Literacy report ignored boy facts

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
After reading the National Literacy Strategy second year report, it continues to concern me that inspectors are still worried by the fact that almost half of pupils transferring to key stage 2 have only achieved level 2C in writing and that the majority of these are boys. From my experience and observations of young children, the following facts have to be taken into account:

* The 2Cs and below are often summer birthdays and have spent less time in school.

* If I walk around my playground or classrooms during any free activities, the girls are likely to be drawing, writing and colouring and the boys will be building, connecting or using the computer.

This is not a generalisation, it is a fact. We could put in place strategies to alter this balance, but we need to consider that boys and girls do develop differently and at times at different rates.

* Even if boys have developed fine pen control by their nursery ge, they still prefer to use blocks, trains, cars etc. and the girls are drawn to threading, drawing, painting etc.

Boys with fine pen control will willingly undertake writing activities if encouraged and requested, but given free choice the majority will not.

If we continue to make judgments about young children's attainment at the end of key stage 1 then we must take account of the length of schooling, the age of the children at the time of testing and the interest in writing skills that boys tend to develop later. I say "interest" and not "enthusiasm", an attitude that is more prevalent in girls, as I am concerned that forcing boys to develop writing skills when they are not ready is doing more harm than good.

We are successfully putting them off writing and the danger is that once switched off, it is a real struggle to switch them back on.

Pauline Stonehouse Raglan infant school Enfield Middlesex


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