Close gender gap to improve our world ranking

7th January 2011 at 00:00

Amid the almost inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth about the UK's relative performance in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Pisa education league tables, may I offer a modest proposal?

If we educators concentrate on closing the 21-point gap between the mean maths score of our 15-year-old girls and the average boys' score, would we not be celebrating the UK's above-average overall performance in that subject, instead of lamenting a below-average one?

Looking at the scores, it seems that many of those countries scoring highest have much lower gender gaps.

Girls' schools like ours have a real role to play in this: in schools where there are no stereotypically "male" or "female" subjects, girls are much more motivated to do their best in every subject.

Helen Fraser, chief executive, The Girls' Day School Trust.

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