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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Beckham book on curriculum
Head of English Bernita Kelly reading from Beckham's book
Bernita Kelly wanted 'to close the gap' on performance
David Beckham's new book has been put on the curriculum at a south Wales Valleys secondary school in an attempt to gets boys to read more.

As part of a single sex experiment, staff at Abersychan Comprehensive are segregating boys and girls in all its English classes through to the year before GCSEs.

Teachers felt that boys in mixed classes felt under pressure and fared far worse in English exams than girls.

Female pupils will read traditional classics such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, while the boys concentrate on the footballing star's latest autobiography, My Side.

Boys-only classes are so much better because the girls would get on my nerves. When they are causing trouble in class it's the boys who get the blame
Pupil Thomas Filer, 12
Head of English, Bernita Kelly, said: "Girls do a lot a better than boys at English and we wanted to do something to close the gap.

"We introduced books that boys will like and understand and identify with their idols such as David Beckham. He's their hero.

"We want it to cause a knock-on effect and encourage boys to read more and get a feel for the English language.

"Even though the term has just started we can see a big difference in attitude with the boys keen to learn."

Other books being introduced include those by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Muhammad Ali and British World Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

The boys, aged from 12 to 15, will also study fantasy books like Lord Of The Rings and Terry Pratchett's novels and are also split up into teams.

They will also have quizzes in class to make the lessons more competitive.

Head of English Bernita Kelly with pupils
Bernita Kelly 'wanted to close the gap' on performance

Ms Kelly added: "The girls are carrying on learning the classics such as Jane Eyre and reading novels by women authors.

"We have already had feedback from pupils and parents who think it is a great idea."

Acting head teacher Jeff Thomas said: "I think it is best that we do our best for all youngsters, boys and girls.

"If pupils learn more readily in a particular situation then we should provide that situation."

And the initiative has received full support from male pupils.

Pupil Daniel Seers, 12, said: "We can now read and talk about more boy-type things - and I think the new David Beckham book is fantastic"

And friend Jordan Parfitt, also 12, said: "Anything that means we don't have to sit next to girls is great."

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23 Sep 03  |  Education


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