Statistics About Boys and Education

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Dr John Barry & Professor Gijsbert Stoet:

"The academic underperformance of boys cuts across all social strata and geographies (Curnock-Cook, 2016). It starts early and continues through all educational levels (Stoet & Yang, 2016). Apart from the loss of potential economic benefits of a better educated workforce (OECD, 2013), educational underachievement can have personal costs to individuals and to society, especially when underachievement turns into delinquency and crime (Shader, 2004).

Boys are roughly twice as likely as girls to have special educational needs (SENs) such as dyslexia (Department for Education, 2016) and four more times likely to suffer from stuttering (Halpern, 2012). The DoE figures for SEN do not include colour blindness, which is about 16 times more common in boys, and may interfere with educational achievement and career choice (Todd, 2018). Further, boys display far more frequently difficult behaviour at school, which can be related to underlying attentional problems, such as ADHD (DuPaul & Stoner, 2014).

Boys’ reading and writing skills are delayed and continue to be less good than those of girls throughout education. For example, in the last GCSE results found 12.7% of girls and 5.6% of boys got the highest grade (A) in English. Some educators suggest that boys should not be made to learn to read as early as girls, because early failure may be damaging to self-confidence (Curtis, 2007).

The educational disadvantages of boys increment over time. The result is that more boys than girls drop out from school, and far fewer boys ultimately participate in the A levels or go to university. In the UK in 2015, for every 10 boys who entered university, 13 girls did so too. On top of this discrepancy in entry figures, young men are more likely to drop out of university before finishing their degree. The earlier children drop out from school, the more serious the problems (Stearns & Glennie, 2006).

A key question is: what do boys do when they drop out of education? Do they go down the route of apprenticeships, or other potentially gainful paths? Until 2016/7, boys took up fewer apprenticeships than girls did. In a rare glimmer of hope in the story of boys’ educational trajectory, this pattern changed slightly for the first time in 2016/7, when boys took up slightly more (52.5%) apprenticeships than girls did [see here]. Nonetheless, youth unemployment among 16-24 year olds is higher among boys than girls."