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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Review to reassess boys' exam gap
Students taking an exam
Boys' GCSE results are improving fastest - but they still trail the girls
The way boys are taught in schools is to be reviewed to try to narrow the academic gap between the sexes, Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced.

A generation of boys could be left behind unless the matter is addressed, he said.

Some 61% of girls gain high GCSE passes in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, compared with 51% of boys.

Mr Brown and Education Secretary Alan Johnson are to conduct the assessment of the way the curriculum is tailored.

Parents will also be urged to be more involved in children's schooling.


The chancellor called on mothers and fathers, schools and the wider community to work together, pointing to the success of "extended schools".

These provide access to a variety of services, such as daytime childcare, after-school homework, music and sports clubs, and support in specialised areas such as speech therapy.

In a wide-ranging speech - the inaugural Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture at the University of Glasgow - Mr Brown also outlined his views on "Britishness" and social justice.

And he talked about the how to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of individuals, society and the state are balanced effectively.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown will urge parents to become more involved in schooling

This year's GCSE results, announced in August, were an improvement on 2005, with almost one in five entries in England, Northern Ireland and Wales being awarded the top A* or A grades.

Boys' results improved faster than those of girls - but it was still girls who did best overall.

Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts said: "The problem is not getting better, and if anything it has got worse over the last nine years.

"We need fresh ideas on how we tackle it, but sadly it seems Gordon Brown offers just more of the same."

In Scotland, where pupils sit Standard Grade exams rather than GCSEs, First Minister Jack McConnell has already promised additional tests to determine whether teenagers are competent in the "three Rs".

Survey statistics show half of all 14-year-olds in Scotland fall below expected standards.

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