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Contributing to the debate: the perspectives of children on gender, achievement and literacy
University of Exeter
Journal of Educational Enquiry
This journal is supported by University of South Australia; The Centre for Research in Education, Equity and Work
There has been much debate about the underachievement of boys in the United Kingdom (UK), fuelled by continuing evidence that shows girls achieving better than boys in most exams, and boys continuing to dominate special needs education and school exclusions. Various theories have emerged, with boys’ poor performance being attributed to a changing economic infrastructure, to the results of poor parenting or to innate biological differences where, for example, they are perceived as being less able than girls to learn language. In this paper, I contribute to the debate by reporting a selection of the findings from a research project in a cluster of schools, where students from Year 1 (ages 5-6) to Year 11 (ages 15-16) and their teachers were interviewed about their perceptions and attitudes to learning and gender, and were observed in the classroom. While I provide much comment about raising standards and improving classroom practice for all students, I specifically focus on underachieving boys and on literacy. Data on the perceptions of children in Years 4 and 5 (ages 8-10) are presented here. Findings relating to the Early Years children and their teachers are reported in Wood (2001) and data on patterns of interaction and response in Years 1- 8 in Myhill (2002).