Editor's comment

17th October 2008 at 01:00

The revelation (p4) that males are doing better than females in some university admissions tests might prompt some to think that the clock could be turning. The gender gap may be a perennial topic of debate (although, as we have observed before, there was no debate when boys were performing more strongly), but it is welcome nonetheless. This is because ideas about how to motivate boys to be better learners are, very often, about motivating all learners. The suggestions from the Strathclyde University research on stimulating boys to take up modern languages make the point - involving learners in more active learning, instilling good listening skills, setting short-term targets and challenges, and giving clear justifications for learning activities.

There has long been recognition that the school curriculum and examinations favour the careful and steady application of effort, rather than quick-thinking, risk-taking, and other qualities likely to be useful to pupils, of both sexes, in adult life. There is also general acceptance that girls tend to be more diligent and engaged in their studies, while boys tend to be more challenging and easily bored.

Both claims may be true. But one thing we might learn from the current global financial crisis is that society should not have to choose between risk-taking and diligence: we need both.

Schools have done much in recent years to tackle the gender gap through more varied and dynamic teaching - to the benefit of all pupils. But, as some have argued, we can get too hung up on the gender gap in pupils' performance; despite outstripping boys in school, girls do not always carry their advantage into later life and the glass ceiling remains in place for many of them. The real gap to worry about is between the 47 per cent of S5 pupils who get three or more Highers in East Renfrewshire and the 15 per cent who do so in Glasgow.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now