Best Practice

Narrowing the gender gap: Literacy

Continuing our focus on the gender gaps in educational outcomes, Matt Bromley asks why boys often underperform in reading and writing when compared to girls – and considers what schools can do to close this gender gap

In part one of this series, I examined some of the biological and societal reasons why a gender gap exists in education and explored some generic strategies for closing it. In this article, I will explore the gender gap in literacy proficiency and look at ways of raising boys’ attainment in reading and writing.

An international PISA survey in 2012 found that 15-year-old boys were more likely than girls of the same age to be low-achievers in school; 14 per cent of boys and nine per cent of girls failed to attain the baseline level of proficiency in any of the three core subjects measured by PISA – namely, reading, maths and science. In fact, six out of 10 students who did not attain the baseline level in any of these subjects were boys.

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