Girls more likely to be NEET despite scoring higher exam results


Even though girls consistently outperform boys from key stage 2 right through to A levels, they are also more likely to become a young NEET (not in education, employment or training).

The surprising finding has been highlighted by a national charity which says that the learning gap between boys and girls is still an issue that needs close attention.

Learning Plus UK has highlighted a 10 per cent gap in attainment between girls and boys at the end of key stage 4. This compares to a five per cent gap at the end of key stage 2.

The latest Department for Education figures show that 82 per cent of girls are at Level 4 or above including English and maths at the end of key stage 2 compared to 77 per cent of boys.

However, 64 per cent of girls get five or more GCSEs at A* to C including English and maths compared to 54 per cent for boys.

At A level, the gap narrows again slightly to seven per cent, with 55 per cent of female students getting three or more A levels at A* to E compared to 48 per cent of males. 

However, NEET figures show that 19 per cent of 16 to 24-year-old women are NEET compared to 15 per cent of men. When narrowed down to the 18 to 24 age range, 22 per cent of women are NEET compared to 17 per cent of men.

Learning Plus UK chief executive, Dr Kate Reynolds, said: “We believe the role of data is to raise questions. Our analysis suggests that there are some discrepancies between girls and boys performance which the education community will want to think about.

“With over 20 per cent of young women not in education, employment and training, and 17 per cent of young men, there are some key challenges for making sure both groups are fulfilling their potential as the raising of the participation age (to 17) comes into effect from September.”

The charity says it would like to see “destination data” at post-16 to try and understand why young women are more likely to become NEET. 

Its blog on the issue added: “For schools and colleges, it would be useful to see how you compare with some of these Big Numbers. Does your institution exceed this level of performance for both boys and girls? Across all key stages?”

Learning Plus UK is a not-for-profit education charity which supports schools and local authorities.


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