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Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
Male teachers for 'role models'
Male teacher
Male teachers could help narrow the gender gap
Recruiting more male teachers in primary school could help to tackle the long-term underachievement of boys, says the Schools Minister Estelle Morris.

As this year's GCSE results show that many boys are still underachieving, the education minister says there will be renewed efforts to understand and tackle the problem.

As well as calling for research from inspectors on the impact of single-sex schools and classes, the minister has suggested that more male teachers could help develop a culture of learning among boys at an early age.

Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris wants research into the impact of single-sex classes
"We want to see more male applicants becoming primary school teachers as boys benefit from positive role models," said the minister.

The need for an early start to tackling underachievement among boys was echoed by head teachers' leader, David Hart.

"If we are going to solve the problems of the lad culture which is clearly having an impact at GCSE, because the girls are marching ahead, then we can only do it if we capture the boys at primary school," said Mr Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

Laddish culture

But the Shadow Education Secretary, Theresa May, attacked the government for the continuing underachievement of boys.

"This year's results have again shown that the academic gap between the genders is widening. David Blunkett is failing to address the fact that many teachers feel the examinations favour girls," said Ms May.

But John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association warned that there were "no instant solutions" to resolving the gender gap in this year's GCSE results, which he said could not be explained away by the "laddish culture".

The price of girls' exam success was also being paid in terms of stress and anxiety, said Kay Driver, general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers.

"Young people suffer from stress, anxiety and even illness as a result of exam pressures. Girls seemed to be more affected than boys and this greater anxiety about exams is, perhaps, reflected in the fact that they are currently performing better than boys and obtaining more top grades at GCSE," she said.


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