Book of the week : Women Teaching Boys

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Women Teaching Boys: caring and working in the primary school
By Martin Ashley and John Lee
Trentham Books pound;17.99

Any politician or tabloid columnist, and the DfES, will tell you that, after death and taxes, the third certainty in life is that boys in primary schools underachieve. Pointing for proof at the differences in Sats results, they will tell you the achievement gap is caused by boys' behaviour and attitudes and that the solution is to draft more successful males into primary schools to serve as positive role models.

You can't argue against such common sense. Unless you are Martin Ashley or John Lee. These two teacher trainers bravely and convincingly take on these and many other "commonsense" perceptions and prescriptions in their excellent book and find they don't come up to scratch.

Ashley and Lee remind us that throughout the 20th century and earlier, reports from Her Majesty's Inspectorate and others noted "bad behaviour" among boys. So no change there. When it comes to children's achievements just 20 years ago, the burning issue was not boys' underachievement, but the poor attitude and performance of girls in maths and science. How things have changed - or perhaps not.

Mike Sullivan is an education consultant and former primary head based in the West Midlandsnbsp;nbsp;

Readnbsp;Mike's review in fullnbsp;in this week's TES Friday magazine

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