Different Educational Achievement of Social Groups

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Boys and Achievement

  • By the mid-1990s there was increasing concern that males were underachieving in the educational system.
  • The performance of females has improved faster than the performance of boys and this has led to females gaining more qualifications than males in some areas.
  • Such changes can be interpreted in a number of ways.
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Boys and Achievement - Boys and Literacy

  • According to the DCSF (2007) the gender gap is mainly the result of boys' poorer literacy and language skills.
  • One reason for this is parents spend less time reading to their sons or mothers do most reading to young children so it is seen as a feminine activity.
  • Boys leisure persuits like football and computer games do little to enhance their language and communication skills. Whereas girls tend to have 'bedroom culture' centred on staying in and talking with friends which enhances language skills.
  • The government have introduced several policies to tackle this problem (the raising boys achievement project, the national literacy strategy, Playing for success and Dads and Sons).
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Boys and Achievement - Jobs

  • Globalisation and the decline of traditional men's jobs.
  • The decline in heavy industry and the increase in the service sector and in flexible hours have increased opportunities for women.
  • Mistos and Browne: the decline in employment opportunities has led to an 'identity crisis for men'. Many boys now believe they have little prospect of getting a proper job. This undermines their motivation and self asteem so they give up trying to get qualifications.
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Boys and Achievement - Feminisation of Ed

  • Sewell (2006): boys fall behind because education has become 'feminised'.
  • Schools do not nuture masculine traits such as competitiveness and leadership, instead they celebrate methodical working and attentiveness in class which are more closely associated with girls.
  • Gorard: sees coursework as a major cause of gender differences in achievement, he argues coursework should be replaced by final exams and there should be a greater emphasis on outdoor adventure in the curriculum.
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Boys and Achievement - Male Teachers

  • Another cause of boys underachievement is the lack of positive male role models at home and school.
  • DfES (2007): only 16% of primary school teachers are male
  • Yougov Survey (2007): 39% of 8-11yr olds have no lessons with a male teacher yet the majority of boys surveyed said the presence of a male teacher made them behave better and 42% said it made them work harder.
  • However, recent research suggests this approach may be to simplistic and may not be only factor affecting boys underachievement.
  • Francis (2006): 2/3 of 7-8yr olds believed gender of teachers does not matter.
  • Myhill and Jones (2006): 13-15yr olds felt male teachers treated boys more harshly.
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Boys and Achievement - 'Laddish' Subcultures

  • Some believe the growth of 'laddish' subcultures has contributed to boys' underachievement.
  • Epstein (1998): looked at way masculinity is constructed in schools and found working class boys were likely to be subjected to verbal abuse if they appeared to be a 'swot'.
  • Francis (2001): boys were more concerned than girls about being labelled a 'swot' by their peers as the label was a threat to their masculinity.
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