Why do we have such low expectations of boys

(82 Posts)
AbbyR1973 Fri 28-Jun-13 10:56:44

Often I read threads on here about reading/writing/maths and inevitably sooner or later someone pops up with a comment like "well he is a boy" or "boys aren't developmentally ready until they are 6" etc etc...
I find this very depressing and clearly is a message that is getting through to the boys themselves.
DS1 who does extremely well at school in year r and is by far and away ahead of his peers actually said to me last week "Mummy boys have weaker brains than girls." I was horrified that he should say something like that as a matter of fact. Heaven only knows where he heard it!!
We need to give our boys positive messages.

Meglet Fri 28-Jun-13 11:07:43

I wonder too. Other parents say that their son isn't reading because he's a boy, but my DS was reading very well at that age I'm a horrid pushy mum though. He is working mainly just with girls in all his ability groups, there's only one other boy in his year who is at the same level. The rest of the boys are in the middle or lower ability groups, DS has mentioned this as he wants to work with his mates so I live in fear of him sabotaging his work so he can be with them. I suppose I've been lucky and DS has generally cracked on with school, I can't appreciate the reasons why the majority of boys are in the lower ability group.

To be honest I get wound up from both sides, the people who think girls can't be boisterous (um, my DD can) and people who pooh-pooh boys doing well in their early years at school. 6.6yo DS does well academically and he can also bosh people with sticks, he's not the type to sit still at all.

There's a difference between what one boy actually does, and what boys on average do.

So, if someone on here is worried that their 6yo boy hasn't really caught on to reading yet, then it is totally fair for other parents/teachers to reassure them that it is really very normal for a boy of that age.

That doesn't mean no boy of 6 can read well or is academic - mine was another who picked up the idea of reading and ran with it, aged 4, and loved book-learning.

But you're right its worrying if boys are being told they are automatically less able, whether they are being told that directly or picking up on it subconsciously. I thnk you should take the chance to repeat it to the teacher and say you are worried that he is hearing such things.

Rollmops Fri 28-Jun-13 11:39:44

What utter rot! I would like to get my hands on the eejit who put the thought of weaker brains of boys into your son's head.
In our school, (selective independent) boys are outperforming girls by far, however, nobody goes round patronising girls and their' wee little brains'. angry
Children are children and home and family are the deciding factors in their future success.

TheSecondComing Fri 28-Jun-13 11:42:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smudging Fri 28-Jun-13 18:43:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 28-Jun-13 18:53:16

In DS3's Y1 class all the top reading group are boys so it doesn't follow there.

Iwillorderthefood Fri 28-Jun-13 19:08:36

I had a conversation with a mum of boys who kept saying how dainty and cute my girls were. Her boys were apparently rough and tumble, not easy to sleep at bedtime all things girls are not apparently.

I kept gently correcting her. I agree that there is this view of boys and it is wrong.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 19:19:06

Well, my primary reception teachers teach boys with an awareness that boys develop differently from girls and hence learn differently.

Apparently, even the physiological development is different and they do not learn to write in the same way (or maybe as quickly....this doesn't mean that they won't write as well once they get into it.

They do not expect boys (or girls if relevant) to learn in traditional ways and use inventive and imaginative ways to teach for the first year or so. For example, using gross motor skills more than fine to do maths.

I don't see why different expectations are bad. Saying "well, he's a boy" may not be a put down, it may be a recognition and an explanation. There's no doubt boys and girls ARE different. You can just see the difference in focus and interest when they enter the classroom in the morning. All nurture and not natural instinct? I'm not sure.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 19:48:32

I agree. I think it is irrelevant whether they are physiologically different / learn in different ways, if parents, teachers and other adults persist in making excuses for them.
'he just wants to play on his computer'
'that's a boy thing'
'he just wants to play'
'he needs to go outside and run around'
'he's not interested in learning - he's just a boy'
'he can't sit still - he's just a boy'
'he's a real boy' (to explain any kind of silly or immature behaviour).

It really annoys me. What about the girls? They like to run around. They like to play outside. They like to move about rather than sit still.

Where is the proof they are physiologically different? What is the 'different' way they learn, that we don't address in primary schools?

IME over the last 15 years or so, the attainment of boys has got lower and lower and lower in KS1, and I have heard more and more excuses made for the boys' performance (by parents, teachers, media, etc)

How can we sort it out?

(I have made a similar observation about girls, the colour pink and bloody fairy books. It's like there's a conspiracy to make girls into compliant little Stepford wives.)

numbum Fri 28-Jun-13 20:05:25

My year 1 DD is on the 'top table' for maths and literacy with 5 boys so it doesnt follow there either.

DS goes out for extra maths lessons (g&t not SEN) and there is a definite mix of gender there too.

What I have noticed at the school I work in though (dont know if its the same at DCs school) is that there are a lot more boys than girls with SEN in every single year. I absolutely disagree that they have weaker minds though. They may be behind educationally but there are some clever minds there!

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:00:25

I agree. I think it is irrelevant whether they are physiologically different / learn in different ways, if parents, teachers and other adults persist in making excuses for them.

I, personally think that the above statement is non-sensical. How can it be irrelevant? It is absolutely 100% relevant and should without doubt be factored into teaching approaches and strategies to maximise the boys potential. It is a theory well discussed if not proven, that early learning is female biased.

At the same time, I know of very few comments and "excuses" made about boys and their learning. My son goes to bog standard state school with a wide social mix. I don't hear loads of excuses about boys learning nor do I feel the school had low expectations of boys. I certainly don't.

Taffeta Fri 28-Jun-13 21:02:43

Other way round in our house. DS is bright and very keen, has great drive to succeed.

DD is a dreamer and can do what she needs to when she sets her mind to it, which is occasionally.

Chottie Fri 28-Jun-13 21:03:11

I have an adult 'boy' and he is definitely an achiever. I think the change in GCSEs will really suit boys.

I expected both my children to work hard and take advantage of all the opportunities available to them.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:05:07

See, you can combine the two...."boys learn differently" and "he needs to go outside" ... There are no negative connotations at all if you turn our learned ideas about education around and you take the lesson outside and make it physical rather than desk based.

simpson Fri 28-Jun-13 21:05:58

Both my DC are very bright.

DS is in top sets/groups/tables for everything which is mainly made up of boys. He is the hard working, studious one.

DD is in reception and everything seems to come more easily to her than her brother but because things come easily I am not so sure she will work as hard iyswim.

pointydog Fri 28-Jun-13 21:08:56

BacktoTwo, there is no convincing evidence that boys learn differently from girls. I agree with the op's comment on careless stereotyping of the sexes which surrounds them from birth.

Lots of women teach and that does not mean that early learning is female biased.

pointydog Fri 28-Jun-13 21:09:44

Boys need inventive and imaginative teaching and girls can do fine with traditional stuff - what a shocker.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 21:20:49

back2two where is the evidence that boys learn differently? (FGS girls need to go outside too!!) Why are you assuming that all learning is desk-based?

Primary school teachers have been addressing 'making learning more accessible to boys' (e.g. castles, weapons, killing, army, etc - boy things) for several years and things aren't getting any better...

Boys' physiological differences/learning styles are irrelevant, if, from a young age, adults have such low expectations of them. If we don't expect high attainment in KS1 because of their assumed 'developmental delay' and their 'unreadiness' for academic work, we, as teachers, are stuffed.

Helpyourself Fri 28-Jun-13 21:21:06

Boys reach their milestones later than girls and are hugely disadvantaged by the accelerated structured teaching at early years and key stages 1&2. It really matters because they get discouraged and disenchanted, switch off and don't catch up. Added to the fear of being nerdy and lack of positive role models (how many male primary school teachers do you know?)
Boys are boisterous and girls are biddable- hugely I damaging stereotype. Many children don't flourish age 4 in an environment where they are constantly measured and assessed- obvious fact that needs to be addressed.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 21:22:45

'girls can do fine with traditional stuff' Poor girls.

I take girls to the woods every week, and, believe me, they like mud just as much as the boys.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:25:35

No, I have said neither of those things. I said that early learning being based upon the strengths in learning of young girls rather than boys has been discussed but not proven. And, I said, boys or girls should be provided with alternative approaches to traditional teaching methods..... ..whichever teaching method suits whichever child.

I have two boys. My son at school is in yr one but reading with yr two classes. He seems fine in other subjects. I'm not stressing...I know he'll be fine because I know I provide a lot of encouragement and opportunities and I think the school is great. At the moment I'm more interested in nurturing a passion for learning and social confidence.

I should be supporting the OP ....but I find myself asking who is the "we" who has low expectations of their boys? Not me.

Myliferocks Fri 28-Jun-13 21:26:43

I have two high achievers. One is a girl and one is a boy.
Two of my DC are average and they're a boy and a girl.
My struggling child is agirl but she is also an August child with very low confidence.
Looking at some of the reading books they have all bought home over the nearly 13 years my DC have been at school and they seemed to be slanted towards the more traditional girls reading subjects.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:35:22

Boys' physiological differences/learning styles are irrelevant

No they're not. Not if they actually are relevant. It was a male primary school teacher that led a session at school for parents/carers on different learning styles etc. that told us that the muscular development of boys made fine motor skills more difficult at an early age (or something close to this, I can't remember exactly, 'twas last year smile)

How can that not be relevant? It would be wrong and detrimental to boys to ignore such theories.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 21:38:39

Back2 We bend over backwards for boys. Our whole curriculum has their interests and 'boisterousness' in mind.

The questions are:
Is their relatively low achievement due to them being developmentally delayed?
Have got into the habit of making excuses to justify the boys' poor performance?

Biscuitsneeded Fri 28-Jun-13 21:47:47

I totally agree we shouldn't be giving children the message that either gender has to conform to any stereotypes. And luckily there will always be children who challenge those stereotypes. However, when I look at my son's Y1 class going into school in the morning, nearly all the girls are lining up correctly, and sitting 'nicely' while waiting to go in, while 75% of the boys are tearing around whacking each other until actually called to line up. Of course there are exceptions on both sides of the gender divide, but if we're talking about general trends, as a Mum of 2 boys I would have to concur that yes, generally speaking they are slower to get reading and writing, find it harder to concentrate in the earlier years. However, once into about Year 2, it's another story altogether.

orangeandemons Fri 28-Jun-13 21:56:13

I'm a teacher too, although a secondary teacher. I try to avoid these threads from past bitter experience, but I'm with Back2two.

I didn't think like this before I started teaching. There have been many studies done on how boys anfpd girls learn differently, and some secondary schools have trialled teaching boys and girls in separate classes with different teaching styles,which showed improvements in results for both sexes.

I do think their brains are hard wired differently and it isn't a social or environmental thing.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:07:20

Where are the studies?

(I know that in KS1 parents make excuses for boys, and don't make excuses for girls.)

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 22:11:46

iPad... No where am I saying that boys are "boisterous" nor that they need (e.g. castles, weapons, killing, army, etc - boy things) to make learning "accessible" ( oh, my god...this approach to teaching boys would make me refuse to take my son to school) These are all your judgements and words. I absolutely have belief at all that they boys are "developmentally delayed" in any way except if we insist on judging them and measuring them on educational "goals" which are not relevant to them.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 22:13:33

Have *NO belief

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:15:17

iPad you're talking rot,nobody bends over backwards from boys.

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:15:35


southeastastra Fri 28-Jun-13 22:16:29

my older son was really academic and got on well with school my other son struggled

primary schools are focussed on one way of learning imo which is mad as there are so many learning styles, i really don't get why kids aren't assessed as to what their learning style is at a young age and their teaching tailored to that need. ime some kids need to learn through play for a longer time than others yet i see the gov has decided to cut that as well.


MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:18:10

I think girls handle structured learning better,that isn't to say they wouldn't benefit from less structured leaning too.

orangeandemons Fri 28-Jun-13 22:20:04

one here

I can find plenty of others

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:24:31

Many many parents and other adults believe that boys are developmentally delayed.
(BTW I was being slightly tongue in cheek with the killing thing, although many video games targeted to boys seem to concentrate on it.)

It is not only educational goals that we are assessing boys on. It is their 'level of maturity' as well. Many parents (please believe me here) would find it perfectly acceptable for their child to be behaving inappropriately because they 'are just boys', where, in fact, they are socially immature. I think this social immaturity has something to do with low expectations.

Boys tend to spend much more time on computer games than girls (and certainly on more violent games). I also think this is affecting their ability to interact socially, to play with other children (with rules) and to share.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:26:20

mrbuttercat 99% of Ofsted reports over the last 10 years have slated boys achievement. So primary schools have been bending over backwards to keep the boys happy at school...

"It was a male primary school teacher that led a session at school for parents/carers on different learning styles etc. that told us that the muscular development of boys made fine motor skills more difficult at an early age (or something close to this, I can't remember exactly, 'twas last year)"

Really? All boys have more difficulty with fine motor skills than all girls? For most traits for which there are observable statistical differences between the sexes the difference is very slight (something like "the average girl is more [whatever] than two-thirds of boys" -- which still leaves one-third of boys who out-score half the girls in whatever trait is being measured).

So making generalisations like "boys have poorer fine motor skills" or "boys have a greater need for physical activity" is unhelpful and largely irrelevant. Some children have poorer fine motor skills than others, and there are some strategies that should be employed to help with that. On a population level, statistically more of those children will be boys than will be girls, but not actually all that many more. And in any individual class the numbers could be equally split, or there could be more girls with poor fine motor skills than boys. Similarly, some children have a greater need for physical activity than others, and there are some strategies that should be employed to help with that. On a population level, statistically more of those children will be boys than will be girls, but not actually all that many more. And in any individual class the numbers could be equally split, or there could be more girls than boys with a need for regular physical activity.

If you get hung up on "boys are this, girls are that" theories in education then it's wrong and detrimental to both the boys and the girls who don't fit into those neat categories -- who may be the minority (although in any given class they could be the majority) but even so are likely to be a very sizeable minority. Thinking about the different needs of children as individuals and then mentally grouping those individuals into loose categories of "may benefit from such-and-such an approach"

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:34:11

Ipad your last 2 posts were absolute rubbish,every single word.

I have twin boys,a daughter,twin nephew boys and we have countless boys in our life- all are beautifully behaved and don't behave in appropriately and most certainly aren't allowed to do so.

Sick and tired of this neg/anti boy attitude.

My dc have the same rules re screen time. Pmsl that you think parents say ok Johny you have as much screen time as you like but Jane you can have less.hmm

orangeandemons Fri 28-Jun-13 22:35:48

My ds spent all his teenage years on games. He interacted fantastically well with all the other online game nerds, and made friends with them all. In fact he lives in a shared house at uni with some of them.

So I would say they actually enhanced his ability to share and interact socially

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:39:22

My dp is a software developer,one of my boys are G&T re IT,he is the most caring,sharing,social child you could wish for.All 3 have exactly the same limited screen time. Sharing and screen time are down to parenting for both genders.

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:41:17

shock at the sweeping negative stereotyping re boys.If it was aimed at girls oh the uproar w'd have.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:47:13

Mr buttercat The Ofsted comment was a fact, so not rubbish.

I have sat through so many parent interviews with parents making stock excuses for their boys' academic performance or behaviour that I could write a book about it.

I also know (from talking to children) what they spend their time doing in the evenings. Many boys are stuck to a computer (hopefully, at 7 years old, not interacting with other 'online game nerds') playing aggressive games.

(Well said tolliver)

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:48:17

Mrbuttercat You are very wise limiting screen time.
There aren't many parents like you.

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:50:06

Not the 7 year boys I know.

All the parents of boys I know have high expectations.

Please do list all these things schools bend over backwards to do for boys.

gussiegrips Fri 28-Jun-13 22:50:20

some boys are ghastly.

Some girls are ghastly.

And, some, mixture of either.


*I have some nice boys and some nice girls. Who can also be impossible little buggers when the mood takes them.

HormonalHousewife Fri 28-Jun-13 22:51:53

In answer to your question I most certainly do not have low expectations of my sons.


Is it actually a fact that "99% of Ofsted reports over the last 10 years have slated boys achievement"? Do you have a source for that figure?

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:55:48

Here are a few:
Teach a creative curriculum with active parts to the lesson, so not sitting down all the time.

Literacy to involve outside work/practical 'experience'

Introduce reading schemes that 'appeal to boys' (massive bandwagon for educational publishers)

Have outside lessons / forest schools

Encourage children to broaden their learning through research - bring in info from home, share with class.

Introduce some kind of competition.

5madthings Fri 28-Jun-13 22:56:11

Ultimately all children are different. I certainly don't have low expectations for my boys.

Currently ds1 is predicted all a* and a's in his GCSE's and ds2 did level six SATs papers.

Ds3 is doing well and ds4 also doing well, yr three and reception.

I have read that boys are more likely to have issues with fine motor control but haven't noticed it too much with mine but they spent a lot if time playing with Lego and fiddly little toys etc which I guess helps develop that.

My dd is only two but seems very similar to the boys at the same age.

I hate gender stereotyping esp in children, they all develop differently and have diff interests because they are individuals.

Certainly my boys teachers have never made comments re achievement/ability and gender and I don't either.

MrButtercat Fri 28-Jun-13 22:57:18

Ipad our school does none of that.

5madthings Fri 28-Jun-13 22:58:01

iPad other than the books aimed at boys (wouldn't help ds3 who loves fairy stories) all those activities are good for children regardless of gender.

5madthings Fri 28-Jun-13 22:59:03

Our school has outdoor lessons and encourages them to bring in stuff from home and families to be involved in learning. Its good for all the children not just boys.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 23:16:09

Absolutely 5madthings. The girls love to actively learn and get muddy at Forest School.

Mrbuttercat what do they do then? How do they enthuse the children? (And I mean children there - girls also need active learning.)

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 23:41:49

What I'm highlighting is the importance in acknowledging possible differences. To me, what you are labelling as "poorer fine motor skills" is not what I said. i suggested that there is a theory that boys may prefer to use gross motor skills in the main for longer (until they are aged 7 perhaps) as this is where their strengths are. Girls may develop fine motor skills sooner than boys. Therefore, for the boys (or girls) for whom this may be true this is not a judgement, not a negative ......just an adaptation of teaching approach to recognise this. (They may be able to vocalise their knowledge before they can write, or illustrate their understanding by drawing in sand rather than sitting at a desk and writing with a pencil)

I am talking about theoretical explanations for why boys may have, in recent years, been labelled as less "clever" "able" or lower "achievers" than girls. I am saying that they are not, but that we may be judging them against unrealistic and incorrect indicators.

AbbyR1973 Sat 29-Jun-13 00:19:16

This has rather grown in my absence. It's a thought provoking discussion.
The "we" in the thread title refers to the community/nation.
I really feel that the big issue at present is expectations for boys. There appears to be an expectation that at the end of the day boys won't do as well as girls, as reflected in declining results for boys at educational exit level compared to girls.
Whilst there may be subtle average differences between boys and girls early development, these differences are so subtle that in medicine we only have single standard chart for developmental norms compared to for example growth charts which are differentiated by gender. On average for example girls develop language at 12 months, boys at 13 months but by 21/2 years there is no average difference in language skills.
If you look at population studies of intelligence there is no difference between genders in terms of average score but there is a wider distribution of boys (more boys at both extremes)
All of this tells us there should be no difference in performance at outcome, but there is.
I read so many negative comments about boys and their learning that I can't help but wonder if this message is being transmitted to boys at an early age.
I agree with ipadquietly re computer games, cartoons etc. DS's aged 4&5 have limited screen time, are not allowed to watch violent cartoons like Ben 10 at all and are not allowed to play violent based computer games. I think many parents don't filter TV based on age appropriateness and certainly I am aware that DS is probably the only boy in his class that doesn't watch this stuff. I also think that many parents don't operate any kind of screen time rationing.

sashh Sat 29-Jun-13 06:50:38

I really feel that the big issue at present is expectations for boys. There appears to be an expectation that at the end of the day boys won't do as well as girls, as reflected in declining results for boys at educational exit level compared to girls.

But they still find it easier to get a job and earn more. I think they know this (at graduate level not 5 year olds)

katydid02 Sat 29-Jun-13 07:07:39

It's not just in schools either, when DS was not moving much before birth the midwife said "Oh, he's just being a lazy boy" and when he was very shy people would say, disparagingly, that he was a "Mummy's boy" - there seem to be a lot of people in our culture who are very down on boys.
I tell him that he is my best boy and make sure he knows that he is just as clever as his sister; he knows she is doing well at school and has the mistaken idea that he isn't for some reason.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sat 29-Jun-13 07:29:06

"there may be subtle average differences between boys and girls development"

This might be true, on average, but the distributions are different between the sexes. For example, there will be significantly more boys with language delay than girls (it varies from study to study, but it is probably in the region of 4:1). I have observed at my own dc's school that not only are the bottom groups heavily biased towards boys, but also the top groups.

There is also a difference between having low expectations of boys and appreciating that they are often later to get started academically. Both sexes can be late developers, and it is important that the education system allows for this. The fact that this trait is more prevalent in boys is perhaps only relevant in that if late developers are not catered for it will statistically impact more boys.

Helpyourself Sat 29-Jun-13 08:44:51

I think you can have zero tolerance to lazy stereotyping and recognise that there are serious problems with the early years curriculum that disadvantages many children. A syllabus that includes more time outside and a massive push to get moreen into primary schools would benefit all our children.

Helpyourself Sat 29-Jun-13 08:45:57

Moreen should be men!

katydid02 Sat 29-Jun-13 09:41:32

Helpyourself - I agree, useful to have male role models when so many do not have a positive male role model if they do not have a father at home and, in the case of boys, do not take part in sport outside of school where many of the coaches are male.

ipadquietly Sat 29-Jun-13 10:03:30

And there is also the increasing problem of many children having a series of 'fathers'. This doesn't encourage consistency or a male role model. At least three children in my class are on their second or third daddy, and they're only seven. It doesn't inspire trust.

On another tack, ime mummies do a lot of organising and molly coddling of boys, whereas girls are expected to be more independent.

MrButtercat Sat 29-Jun-13 10:11:11

Wrong again Ipad.

I don't mollycoddle my dd any more than my boys.Again sweeping generalisation.

And I know very few kids who have had a series of dads.Marriage rates are down but not being married doesn't mean dads don't father. 23 years unmarried here,my dp is extremely involved.

The fact is boys have nigh on zero male teachers,my boys are 9 and have never had one.School is female dominated and organised as such,boys aren't stretched and boys cope less well than girls with the current education style. There is generalisation,stigmatising,belittling and prejudice.

It stinks to be frank.

78bunion Sat 29-Jun-13 10:20:13

Far too many parents make sexist generalisations. Men own 99% of the world's wealth and make 66% of its income and about 80% of positions of power in the UK so whatever we are doing with boys it is hardly going wrong.

MrButtercat Sat 29-Jun-13 10:24:20

78 a very, very small proportion own the world's wealth and to be frank I'm utterly sick to death with the argument of life waaaaay further down the line justifying a crap system in schools.

katydid02 Sat 29-Jun-13 10:28:57

78bunion, when the men in those positions were educated, school was very different place to be then. Now schools are completely different - group work, moving around the classroom, interactive learning, talk for learning are some examples whereas it used to be all sitting in rows and listening to the teacher and getting on with it.
The education system then, when compared with the social environment at the time clearly favoured boys but both the education system and the social environment have changed massively since then and clearly boys will not be in the same positions re the amount of wealth, income and power that they have in the world because of those changes.

maizieD Sat 29-Jun-13 10:38:42

Historically, once the concept of universal education was established, girls' secondary education was modelled on boys' secondary education, which was, in its turn, modelled on boys' Public School education. Of course, only a tiny percentage of boys and girls (about 15%) went on to an academic secondary (grammar school) education but those who did followed this 'male' education model. I don't have the statistics for GCE pass rates sorted by gender but I do know that when it came to the 11+, the pass rate was lower for boys than for girls in the 1950's & 60's. So the girls who went to Grammar school were actuallymore academically able than a significant number of the bboys.

Does this mean that girls responded better to the traditional 'sit still in rows', rote learning model of primary education or were they just beating the boys at their own game?

It would be interesting to see if the GCE results reflected this gender imbalance.

Having personally experienced it, I can also say that it was expectations for girls that were low at the time. Out of about 100 girls in my year group (all girls grammar school) only about half went on to do 'A' levels and perhaps 15 went to University.

MrButtercat Sat 29-Jun-13 10:55:13

And lets not forget the very tiny minority that own the nations wealth were privately educated in single sex schools- says it all really and pretty much gives a perfect example of how boys stuck in the female dominated state sector get the shitty end of the stick.

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 10:58:56

There are 5 male teachers in my dds' state primary. Not bad.

I can't say I see expectations being any lower for boys than girls there, but don't know about other state primaries!

CecilyP Sat 29-Jun-13 11:08:55

maizieD, there was a big report on this but I can't find the link for it as I have it at work. It gave (amongst a lot more information) the % of pupils getting 5 GCEs/5 GCSEs A-C between when O levels were introduced in the early 1950s and the year of report. It showed that slightly more boys passed 5 O levels until about 1970, after which slightly more girls passed 5 O levels. The gap between girls and boys achievement really opened with the introduction of GCSEs in 1987. The real eye opener in the report was how few girls passed physics and chemistry in the 1950s and 60s.

maizieD Sat 29-Jun-13 12:59:45


What I was trying to say was that girls were doing better in a male devised model of schooling which was designed to educate males.

I have no doubt that privately educated children did (and still do) better but the model of education was much the same, private or state, if better tuaght and with better resources. Monopoly of 'top' jobs and wealth has as much to do with 'who you know' as with education.


I'm not surprised that fewer girls passed physics and chemistry in the 1950s and 60s. We weren't encouraged to go down that route! I don't know how old you are, so you may not remember it, but even we Grammar School girls were mostly only expected to have a 'career' which would bridge the gap between school and marriage...shock This may not have been true of all girls' Grammar Schools but it certainly was at mine. We even (top 10% of female ability!) had a 'stream' which was channeled towards 'domestic science' and away from the sciences.

In a way, the present day worry about boys' perceived underachievement/low expectation of boys feels slighty ironic in view of the low expectations that girls have had to live with for centuries.

maizieD Sat 29-Jun-13 13:00:30


maizieD Sat 29-Jun-13 15:50:38


Probably not the report you cited but some comment on gender differences in 'O' level results 1950s - 1980s


BabiesAreLikeBuses Sat 29-Jun-13 16:40:10

Our last inspection report highlighted boys achieving better in maths and girls achieving higher levels in writing. Our data shows a wider spread of boys in literacy, heavier at both ends. At school we don't have different expectations but some (and only some) parents do - i have had comments made to me at parents eve like 'boys are lazy' etc. Children are aware of this and in some cases have even been present when comments like tgat are made!
We have bought in 'boy books' according to the marketing such as project x - which most children enjoy regardless of gender.
With my own children b/g twins i've resisted having a pink/ blue approach - he has watched more princess films than most boys his age and is entirely unaware of that. And she's the more fidgety of the two - I'd class both as having high energy levels and have always spent lots of time outside with them.
The problem is that differences between genders are inspected and feature in school improvement plans when in reality multiple factors influence achievement.

eviekingston Sat 29-Jun-13 17:51:21

Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine makes very interesting reading on this subject. As both a primary school teacher and the mother of a boy I feel that the differences in behaviour between the sexes are hugely attributable to socialisation, and this book debunks a lot of the theories of physiological differences. I certainly get very fed up with the stereotypes of boys that I see everyday, which I certainly discourage in the classroom but which are often reinforced by parents. My son is not rough, or overly boisterous, he doesn't fight, is very articulate and is achieving at the top of his class despite being a summer born boy (apparently doomed to failure). In fact in my class (Reception) I have a lot of boys like him, and a fair few girls who are very physical and certainly don't sit quietly! They are all individuals, and I try to teach and respond to them as such.

78bunion Sat 29-Jun-13 17:55:24

It will be interesting to see if men end up with fewer positions of power. When I graduated 50% of graduates were female and at work and over 20 years on we see only 20% of women in positions of power. We are still therefore doing nothing like enough for women and boys are coping just fine. We need to ensure girls are directed into good careers not pick low paid options and they are not brought up to think their wedding day is all they are on the planet to achieve whilst thinking about the colour of their nail varnish and shoes.

It is not that hard to bring up children in a more gender neutral way and annoying that so many parents seem wedded to proving their prejudices about boys and girls are true.

When teaching the top ability was a mix of boys and girls. However it was noticeable that my bottom ability group was mainly summer born boys. I do think they are forced in too early and tend to give up and become despondent when they feel behind. Then they never really catch up and dislike writing in particular.

My ds is a summer born boy due to start school this year and I do worry. He's very very competitive so I think he will become very put off if he finds he's behind most of the others. He certainly isn't reading very well (CVC words only) and can only write his name. This is because he has no interest in doing so. My friend's daughter will be in the same year group and is only 6 months older. She has beautiful handwriting. Is she any brighter than my ds? Hard to say, the difference is she wants to do it and willingly practices every day. My ds doesn't even want to draw.

I do think the early years value skills that girls tend to have ( generalising here, of course there are exceptions) and that some boys get fed up!

maizieD Sat 29-Jun-13 18:30:29

It is not that hard to bring up children in a more gender neutral way and annoying that so many parents seem wedded to proving their prejudices about boys and girls are true.

Wandering away from the original post somewhat but, as a mother who brought up her children in the 80s and early 90s, when we tried to be as gender neutral as possible, I find the developments of the last decade, with the pinkification of girls and shops labelling shelves with 'boys' toys' and 'girls' toys', very rather depresssing.

I don't think that I am viewing the past through rose tinted spectacles.

ipadquietly Sat 29-Jun-13 19:04:55

Hear, hear maizie I think I mentioned pinkification and fairy books earlier!

And - on another tack as well - I never cease to be amazed by how many mothers sit opposite me in parents' evening and profess to leaving the maths to their 'other halves'. Ummm... this is Y2 maths we're talking about, not A level.

This really has to stop - women are being brought up as bimbos.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Sat 29-Jun-13 20:26:42

stillhoping this time a year ago my dts were preparing for reception, he had no interest in writing but with bribery could manage his name while she would write cards, regularly draw etc etc.
He was no less bright and was enthusiastic and articulate about how everything in the world worked. Similarly was only just reading cvc words.
A year later and he has beautiful cursive writing (if a little large) and has whizzed through 5 levels of reading - late spring born and top end of class. Ability wise there's nothing in them - he's super competitive and has had excellent teachers who very early on spotted his interests.
I remember ds being frustrated a year ago because dd could draw stick men and he couldn't and dd said: don't worry, everybody is special and we're all good at different things.
I couldn't have put it better.

78bunion Sun 30-Jun-13 08:55:09

maizie, I agree. In the 70s (before I had children) and 80s there was a huge movement amongst women not to have gender specific toys and colours. Today it is harder to achieve. We bought feminist books showing women as doctors and the like. I had and loved my own pen knife as did my daughters who spent their teens outdoors on horses, in woods etc. I hope new baby girls born today have mothers who ensure they can climb trees. Even the Nat West advert I just saw on my on line bank's page a minute ago shows a boy with Indian head dress on holding a snail. Why not a girl? Girls play with snails. Girls play cowboys and indians.

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