Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 06 Sep 2007

Where can I find out information about how to help the boys in my class catch up with the girls?

Hillary's Advice

You say you are aware that you find girls easier to teach and are already, this early in the term, slipping into your normal patterns in the classroom. Congratulations on being this self-aware, and especially in a school climate that does not sound particularly supportive to teachers who want to close the gender gap. Now you need practical help and advice.

You could start by looking at the research report on a national push to raise boys’ achievement, published by the then DfES, now the DCSF, two years ago (you will find it on the Department’s – whatever it is now called -- Standards Site). It stresses that helping boys not only to read well, but to enjoy reading, can bring results, and that this can be done by having the confidence to encourage pupils to debate and talk about what they are reading. Talk also helps boys’ writing. They seem to benefit from exercises like paired writing, and being given the chance to explore what they want to write about, as well as having opportunities to write just for the pleasure of it, maybe in journals or reading diaries, without being pulled up short on questions of grammar and spelling. Individual target setting and mentoring also seem to be useful.

Also turn to the work of people who have been doing this for a long time. Gary Wilson is one who saw the issues and acted on them almost before anyone else had logged there was a problem. His website ( lists articles and books on the subject. And check out work done in Bradford, Essex, London and Devon, among other places, for additional pointers.