School safety net as boys continue to fail

18th August 2000 at 01:00
A BLITZ on boys' school performance has been launched in Renfrewshire after an exam analysis showed girls racing ahead in 21 out of 27 Higher subjects. In primary, there are now no subjects in which boys do better.

The authority wants teachers to change their classroom practice over the next three years to narrow the widening gender gap, although it stresses that attainment gaps are larger between social groups. Not all girls achieve particularly well and not all boys are underachievers. But an analysis of Higher results trends reveals boys are only ahead in French, biology, human biology, technological studies, music and physical education.

Girls are significantly ahead in English (11 per cent), geography (22.2 per cent), art and design (24.6 per cent), physics (17.9 per cent) and craft and design (30.2 per cent). In four other subjects - modern studies, computing, secrearial studies and drama - the gap is almost as significant.

At Standard grade, girls are ahead in 26 out of 30 subjects with notable differences in French (23.1 per cent), art and design (20.7 per cent), physics (20 per cent) and English (16.1 per cent).

In English, girls were ahead in all three elements of reading (16.1 per cent), writing (12.5 per cent) and talking (14.3 per cent). The gaps were narrower in maths.

Boys are more influenced by teacher attitudes, describing effective teachers as firm, friendly or fair to all. The council adds: "It is reasonable to assume that we can effectively challenge the stereotypes which have led boys to be labelled as either unwilling or uninterested learners."

If teachers are to engage boys effectively, "we must be able to rise to the challenges which the issues of male identity and male peer pressure present".

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