Schools are to get an average of pound;1,100 to fund after-school literacy sessions for boys, following an admission by the Standards and Effectiveness supremo Michael Barber that the literacy strategy would do little to close the performance gap between girls and boys.
Boys' poor performance, particularly in written English, has been given special attention in the Department for Education and Employment's revision guidance after last summer's disappointing national test results.
The guidelines aim to encourage boys, keep them on task and offer work based on the non-fiction they prefer.
Professor Barber says that the initiative will help under-achieving pupils reach level 4, the expected standard.
But unions are questioning the after-school sessions' educational value, and warning that they will back any members who are pressurised into taking them.