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Tuesday, January 6, 1998 Published at 20:53 GMT


Government tackles boys' underachievement
image: [ Boys will be boys: low performance and disaffection with school ]
Boys will be boys: low performance and disaffection with school

The Government is tackling the "laddish, anti-learning" culture, which has seen many boys fall far behind at school.

The School Standards Minister, Stephen Byers, said: "We ... should not simply accept with a shrug of our shoulders that boys will be boys."

Speaking at the 11th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement in Manchester, he announced a new approach to helping reduce boys' shortcomings.

Mr Byers warned: "Failure to raise the educational achievement of boys will mean that thousands of young men will face a bleak future in which a lack of qualifications and basic skills will mean unemployment and little hope of finding work."

He disclosed new statistics on the standards of education reached by boys and girls.

[ image: Future scientists are likely to be female]
Future scientists are likely to be female
In addition to girls far outperforming boys at GCSE, National Curriculum assessments at 7, 11 and 14 years of age show boys underperforming in English in particular.

There are broadly similar results when comparing boys' and girls' performance in maths and science.

From 1999, local education authorities will be placed at the heart of the battle to close the gender gap - now evident from primary school to university entrance.

Legislation currently before Parliament requires that each local education authority draws up an Education Development Plan.

Ministers will expect the Plans to address the issue of boys' performance, and are also introducing measures to monitor the situation.

Ofsted, the independent inspectorate, has commissioned research from Homerton College and the University of Cambridge which will report in early 1998 and will provide a working agenda for schools, LEAs and central government.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is to publish recommendations on how to raise boys' achievement in English across the ages and stages of schooling.

Official figures that boys have fallen far behind girls in GCSE exams which mark the end of compulsory schooling.

Last year, more girls achieved five good GCSE passes - at grades C or above - in every LEA in England, apart from Kensington and Chelsea.

The small London borough, which contains only a handful of secondary schools, is unrepresentative. Around half the resident children go to independent schools.

The biggest gaps between girls' and boys' performance, in Croydon, North Somerset, Wigan and Portsmouth, exceeded 15 percentage points.

New figures also suggest that disaffection with school is gender-specific.

More than 80% of permanent exclusions are of boys and 7,000 more boys than girls left school at 16 with no qualifications last year.

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Internet Links

The Department for Education and Employment

International Congress For School Effectiveness & Improvement


Education Act 1997

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