A quarter of boys say they dislike going to school by the age of seven

15th October 2010 at 01:00
Research reveals they are more than twice as likely as girls to be unhappy

A quarter of seven-year-old boys say they already dislike school, research has found.

Boys of this age are more than twice as likely to say that they do not like school as girls of the same age, according to a study by academics from the Institute of Education, London.

Twenty-four per cent of boys claimed not to enjoy primary school, compared with 10 per cent of girls. And boys were far more likely than girls to say that they were always unhappy at school.

More than 14,000 children were interviewed as part of an on-going study that tracks the development of UK children born between 2000 and 2002.

The researchers found that most children worked hard: the average seven-year-old spends 86 minutes a week doing homework. The Government recommends that children of this age should be given an hour of homework each week.

However, many boys were uninterested in the skills that homework was intended to develop. Fewer than half said that they enjoyed reading, compared with two-thirds of their female classmates.

Girls were more likely to try their best at school, regularly answering teachers' questions. Girls also behaved better than boys during lessons: four in five seven-year-old girls said that they worked hard, compared with three out of five boys.

Boys, meanwhile, were far more likely to say that they talked during lessons. And they were more often tired at school than girls of the same age. The researchers said: "This is important, as tired children are unlikely to be able to concentrate, and are, therefore, less likely to learn."

Shane Ryan, of the boys' education organisation Working With Men, said: "There's an inherent difference between boys and girls. Boys are fairly active, and we ask them to keep still in a classroom for long periods of time. They also need to be geared up for transition between nursery and primary school more than girls, so their expectation levels are correct when they get there."

However, researchers found that the mothers of the current generation of seven-year-olds have particularly high educational ambitions for their apathetic male offspring.

Ninety-seven per cent of mothers questioned said they wanted their children to go on to university, even though many had no higher education themselves. As a result, attendance at parents' evenings was almost universal.

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