The reasons for this success are complex, reflecting social as much as educational change. The gains made by a generation of feminists have led parents to expect more of their daughters: to do well at school, go to university and to take up demanding careers.
But changes at school have played their part. The demise of the 11-plus, which favoured boys at the expense of girls, and the rise of coursework for GCSEs and A-levels, have created an environment in which girls have flourished.
The current panic about boys should not be allowed to reverse this trend. Rather, we should be looking to build on successful girl-friendly strategies by devising similar methods for under-performing boys. This cannot be achieved overnight. But it can be done.