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Barber's online debut

SCHOOL standards guru Michael Barber is to hold his first online debate - on boys' underachievement, writes Clare Dean.

Nationally, boys fall behind girls in early literacy skills and the gap in attainment widens with age. Professor Barber is now seeking comments and questions on why this should be.

This year, for the first time, girls got more As at A-level than boys. At GCSE, 61.1 per cent of girls were awarded a C grade or better, compared with 51.9 per cent of boys.

But, a spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Eployment said: "Of course that is not the whole story, many boys are doing well at school, while some girls are failing to reach their full potential."

The DFEE launched a gender and achievement website last month, coinciding with the GCSE results.

The site is designed to offer teachers support in raising the performance and aspirations of underachieving boys and girls. Questions and comments should be via the website - www.standards.dfee.gov.ukgenderandachievement. Professor Barber will respond on October 9, 12 and 20.

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