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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 13:33 GMT
'Concern' over boys' performance
Pupils at Pillgwenny school, Newport, during a visit by chief inspector of schools Susan Lewis
Boys are still behind girls at all stages of education, says the report
Boys' underperformance in education in Wales is "a cause for concern", according to the annual report of the chief inspector of schools in Wales.

Inspection body Estyn found that boys did not do as well as girls at any stage of their education, and they needed to be taught in different ways.

However, the report said that overall standards had risen in all schools.

Chief inspector Susan Lewis also criticised the standard of much workplace-based training.

In her report, Ms Lewis, the chief inspector for education and training in Wales, focused on developments over the last five years.

Pupils have now achieved good or very good standards in three-quarters of classes - up from around 50% in 1999 - and there are very few classes with unsatisfactory standards.

Susan Lewis
Susan Lewis said, despite achievements, more needed to be done

But she said that there was a need for different ways in which boys were taught.

She said there was a "gap" in the performance of boys compared with girls and that the gap "had not narrowed very much".

"One of the keys to improvements across the board for boys is to use a wide range of strategies that taps into what makes the individual learn," said Ms Lewis.

"The use of more ICT [information and communication technology] can generate more interest for boys, breaking things down into a smaller series of tasks and often a competitive element can help boys' learning."

Ms Lewis added: "And generally what improves for boys can improve for girls. It is about a change in focus in schools to teaching in a way to encourage the pupil to learn."

She said that improvements had been made in several areas including achievements in learning for the under-fives.

Some pupils grow up with negative opinions about the value of education.
Susan Lewis

There had also been improvements in standards involving pupils with special educational needs.

But she said there was a need for improvements to the standards of education provided by work-based training.

"The quality of much work-based training, and of course in a few further-education colleges, is not good enough and threatens plans to improve choice for 14-19-year-olds," she said.

"These weaknesses are often not due to enough determination to drive up standards and quality."

She highlighted the need for school and colleges to play more of a part in communities to change the attitudes towards learning.

"Some pupils grow up with negative opinions about the value of education.

"Learners still tend to drop out of learning as they grow older.

"As a result, too few learners in Wales have the qualifications they need to improve their job prospects or to meet the needs of a modern Welsh economy.

"Boys particularly are more likely to under achieve, be excluded from school or break the law," she added.

The report was launched at a primary school in Newport, south Wales, which was praised for its rising standards.

Ms Lewis, said: "I am pleased to launch my report at Pillgwenlly Primary School, which is an example of a school that has experienced difficult times but has made a rapid improvement."

Education minister Jane Davidson welcomed the report and said policies were "very much on track with year-on-year improvements in standards and the quality of provision".

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