COLUMN: The education system needs to do more to support boys

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We held our awards evening and as girl after girl was called up to collect their prizes, you may have wondered if we had any male students at all.

They came to the fore later on, but it is not lost on anyone at our school that, in common with other secondary schools, female students outperform their male counterparts quite significantly.

Theories abound as to why this is. Some say that girls mature faster than boys, and so are more disciplined in class and in their studies. Others suggest that stereotyping little boys and girls means that by year seven, boys have been given more leeway when it comes to indulging in behaviour which, in a classroom setting, is disruptive, while scruffiness is also tolerated more in boys.

Years of conditioning means that secondary school girls are more receptive, calmer and have neater handwriting, which are all qualities cherished by teachers and which aid educational achievement in traditionally academic subjects.

The bad news for boys at the moment is that the Government is insisting on a curriculum full of academic subjects, hence, in my view, the gap in achievement.

Studies show that the boys eventually catch up with girls and there is excellent provision for practical, vocational subjects from the age of 16 onwards, but there is a fear that boys may have become so unrewarded by school by then that their interest in learning will have dipped, and they will refuse to continue.

I know that not all girls are neat and tidy in their work and not all of them are perfect students, just as our high-achieving male students – who we hold up as role models - show that boys can buck the trend, but, and it’s another cliché, these are exceptions that prove the rule.

It is a fact that boys are underperform and it’s wrong that instead of doing more to help them, the education system now operates less in their favour than it has been for many years.