Boys’ Underachievement in English and Literacy.
Over the past two decades research has shown that the under-achievement of boys in English at primary and secondary level is a major challenge to the education system. It is clear from national data that there are legitimate concerns of the achievements of some boys throughout their schooling. The national picture shows us that at Key stage 1 boys are under achieving in literacy and English and this becomes further exacerbated at Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and GCSE level. ‘...more boys than girls fail to achieve level 4 in English national tests at the end of Key Stage 2; rather more boys than girls fail to achieve the five A*-C bench mark grades in GCSE examinations taken at 16+. These patterns of academic achievement are evident in most schools in England.’ ( Younger, M, and Warrington, M. Raising Boys’ Achievement (2005)) Although nationally there is a 20% difference between boys and girls at Key Stage 3 for reaching level 5+ in English it is fair to say that the difference in performance of boys in maths and science at level 5 is reduced and that at level 7 in science and maths boys outperform girls, albeit slightly. Locally, results show the same trend. It must be made clear that not all boys fall in the category of underachievers and some groups of boys do well across the curriculum, however, research shows that the mean attainment of girls in English is higher than the mean attainment for boys and that many boys do less well than girls in reading and particularly writing. There are many theories in to why there is such a gender divide in literacy and English and this paper is going to focus on two main areas: the attitudes of boys to learning and teaching and learning methods. The underachievement of boys in English and literacy is often associated with poor attitude and behaviour with many boys regarding these subjects as feminine. Their status and peer’s opinion of them seem to have a strong...
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