No Barriers 2022 invited primary schools from across the UK to come together, be inspired by amazing women footballers of the past and present, and champion respect for women and girls, on their football pitches, in their schools, their communities and online. No Barriers 2022 is officially an Inspired by England 2022 project. Over 1000 young people between the ages of 8 – 11 from areas across the UK took part including Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Rotherham, Manchester, Dorset, London, Southampton and Cardiff.

Rebecca Dunning, professional footballer and Tournaments Delivery Assistant at The FA, co-hosted the event from Wembley Stadium and spoke about her experiences of fighting for girls football teams during her time at school.

“It was tough as I used to get told ‘you’re a girl you can’t play football’ and I once had someone say ‘eww they have a girl on their team’. It used to get to me because I was young but it made me try harder and I would prove them wrong and at the end they would say ‘you’re actually pretty good’. Proving them wrong is what kept me going.”

Rebecca Dunning

Harassment in schools is a pressing issue. 10% of harassment cases reported to the police involve girls under the age of 10. During the workshop each group created Class Charters that championed respect for women and girls. These Charters gave young people a solid foundation on which to build positive action in their schools and communities. 

Melissa Davies Oliveck, headteacher of Starks Field Primary School, Enfield, spoke about how her school had recently addressed an issue with harassment, and assured the teachers present that there are lots of positive steps they can take if they have a harassment incident at their school.

“From talking to the girls, we found issues around inappropriate language, inappropriate touch and body shaming, and we immediately took action to address this… We all need to be aware that it can happen in this school, it can happen anywhere.”

Headteacher, Starks Field Primary School, Enfield

By including the boys in the event and in the creation of the Charter, they became an active part of the solution, taking positive action and steps towards a fairer environment in their school, playground and community. A boy from Holmleigh Primary School, Hackney, shared this part of their Charter:

“We make a commitment to respect women and girls. We will achieve this by not objectifying them, by treating them as equals, and by including them in games and activities. We will speak out and seek help from our responsible adults.” 

Holmleigh Primary, Hackney

The schools now have until 27 July to embed their Charters into their schools, communities and online. Plans for sharing these Charters include writing to MP’s, sharing their Charter with parents, and hosting a mixed gender football tournament. One school who takes their Charter further will win a bursary to take their class to a women’s football match.

To find out more click here.