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Boys retain traditional advantage

"Rather good at science but could do much better at maths" concludes a 26-country survey on English nine-year-olds. These findings are very close to the same study's findings on our 13-year-olds last November. David Budge reports

English boys and girls achieved roughly the same overall scores in the maths and science tests. But boys still appear to be stronger in specific areas of both subjects.

In maths, boys were significantly better than girls in two of the six areas, Whole numbers and Measurement, estimation and number sense. In Year 4 they were markedly ahead in Patterns, relations and functions.

Boys also scored significantly higher marks than girls in Earth science in both Years 4 and 5.

The gender gap, however, was greater in several other countries. Year 4 boys in Canada and Norway finished considerably ahead of the girls in maths, as did the Year 5 Japanese and Dutch boys. Only the older Singapore girls were able to get the better of their male classmates.

The science tests showed that boys were substantially ahead of girls in four countries - the Netherlands, Hungary, Japan and the United States. As in Britain, boys in other countries were generally ahead of girls in Earth science. Fewer differences were found in Physical science and they tended to be confined to the older age group.

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