Gender on the agenda at last

10th July 1998 at 01:00
Having taught young children for many years, I am delighted, both as a teacher and as a psychologist, that the research which demonstrates the differing developmental rates of girls and boys is at last being taken seriously in terms of its implications for education. ("Call for boys to start a year later", TES, June 26).

What should now be taken seriously is the appropriate curriculum for all young children - not just boys. That girls may be able to cope is by no means an indication of appropriateness.

As it is, staying down an extra year in a reception class will hardly be helpful if it is no more than a diluted version of the increasingly formal curriculum children are shortly to experience in the rest of their infant schooling.

In our education statistics we have a tail of under-achieving, disaffected boys which also figures largely in the exclusion rates. We also know the countries with whom we are in competition start formal schooling one or two years later than Britain and do not appear to have the same problems.

Many knowledgeable and experienced practitioners already know what an appropriate curriculum could and should look like for children in this age group.

In a political era that prides itself on making bold moves, perhaps a move towards it would be both bold and enlightened.

Anabelle Dixon TES research fellow Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge 18 Opinion Letters TESJJuly 10 1998 The EditorJ The TESJ Admiral HouseJ 66-68 East SmithfieldJ London E1 9XYJ Fax 0171-782 3200J Email letters@tes1.demon.

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