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Model schools will help peers

THE Cambridge research team (see story, left [Blunkett targets scourge of lad culture]) will identify more than 50 primary, secondary and special schools which have successfully narrowed the gender gap over the past four years.

Schools that have consistently raised boys' achievement, without disadvantaging girls, will each be invited to help two fellow schools where boys are failing to improve.

Academics at the university's Homerton College will build on the work of the college's Molly Warrington and Michael Younger, who have recently completed a three-year investigation into boys' under-achievement. Both will be on the new team.

Their study found that single-sex lessons generally had a positive effect on both sexes' achievement but said that proper evaluation of current schemes was needed.

The tudy of 25 schools concluded that teaching strategies must change if boys' performance is to improve. It found that the assumption that boys demand more teacher time was a myth. Dr Warrington said: "If anything it was the other way round. When it comes to initiating questions and seeking clarification on work-related matters it is girls who tend to dominate."

Pupils were aware that teachers interacted more with girls, which damaged boys' morale.

Dr Warrington said: "Boys are less likely to seek help, to ask for support and to work collaboratively with others - these are precisely the learning strategies girls employ so well."

Under-performance was not just a problem for working-class boys, she added. Research in selective and independent schools had also revealed a significant gender gap.

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