Boys are falling further and further behind girls in UK public schools

Boys are enrolling in university at a much lower rate than girls
Boys are enrolling in university at a much lower rate than girls

This story is from the UK Telegraph.


Each time UCAS releases statistics on equality of access to university in the UK, the gap between the entry rates for girls and boys gets a bit worse.

Just before Christmas, our 2015 End of Cycle Report revealed that young women in the UK are now 35pc more likely to go to university than young men, and 52pc more likely when both sexes are from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Today we publish data on the sex balance in specific degree courses, which shows that there are more women than men accepted to most subject areas.

This highly entrenched trend is not just a reflection of the preferences of young men and women when it comes to making decisions about their lives after school or college.  It is a direct consequence of years of lower educational achievement by boys, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, throughout primary and secondary education.

At the end of primary education (age 11), only 22pc of boys achieve Level 5 or better in reading, writing and maths compared to 27pc of girls.

By the age of 16, girls are over 20pc more likely to achieve five GCSEsincluding English and Maths at Grade C or better.

By age 18, only 47pc of students studying for pre-university level qualifications are boys. 30,000 more girls than boys are studying for A levels or other academic qualifications which best support progression to higher tariff universities. Some 5,000 more boys than girls are doing vocational qualifications, but girls are outperforming boys in both academic and vocational qualifications at this level.  The only exception seems to be that slightly more of the boys who are doing A levels get the very highest A* grades, and they still do rather better at maths than girls.

Degrees supporting traditionally male-dominated professions such as medicine, law and dentistry now all recruit more female students than male.  And move over James Herriot – 80pc of students accepted to veterinary medicine last year were female.

The UCAS figures today also show that there are more women than men across a range of subjects including, pathology and anatomy, biology, genetics, nursing, social work, and English. Two years ago women overtook men in Philosophy, and the same happened with history subjects in 2011. Given that there are more men than women in the population, to achieve equality, there would need to be around 5pc more men than women across the board.

Why is this happening? Well the author of the piece nails the cause of the problem:

So what is going wrong?  Does lower achievement for boys have anything to do with the 80pc female dominated state schools’ workforce, which includes 85pc female teachers in primary schools and 62pc in secondary?  Would boys respond and learn better with more male teachers and role models? 

[…]What about the curriculum and qualifications?  In all the heated debates about the primary curriculum, I don’t recall hearing anything about the different impacts on teaching and learning for girls and boys.  

If we were serious about fixing this, we would hire more male teachers and administrators in the schools. Boys do better studying material that is boy-friendly, and when the material is taught by male teachers. Boys tend to underperform in mixed-gender classrooms, too. But there is no effort in the schools to fix that, because men can never be victims – only women. No one in the education system wants to fix problems for boys. No one wants to speak up for boys for fear of being perceived as insufficiently feminist.

Are the UK schools doing anything to address these problems?

Of course not:

[…][A]lthough most schools will track the achievement of their boys and girls, there seems to be little focus on the gender gap in education policy.  A recent FOI request by the men’s human rights group, MRA-UK, asked the Department for Education if it recognized boys’ underachievement, what initiatives are in place, and how much is budgeted for them in 2015/16.  The response in July 2015 was “The Department does not fund any initiatives that just focus on addressing boys’ underachievement”.

My advice to young men is to hit the math and STEM hard, and understand that the odds are stacked against you. You have to take your education seriously, because if you don’t no one else will. You have to take your career seriously, because if you don’t no one else will. The system isn’t there to help boys. You’ll have to make your own way on your own strength, and the system is there to fight you all the way.

2 thoughts on “Boys are falling further and further behind girls in UK public schools”

  1. Bear in mind that women are greatly overrepresented in humanities and social sciences and greatly underrepresented in STEM subjects. Further education is increasingly an expensive finishing school for the middle classes. It is about social signalling and gaining access to professional job markets through credentialism, not about actually getting an education.

    Getting a degree gives you much less economic advantage than it once did and there is an ongoing arms race, as a degree means a lot less than it once does, while costing much, much more in time and money. The academic jobs market is abysmal too. The bubble will burst soon and, when it does, it will hit the humanities and social sciences—and the women within them—by far the hardest. A degree in STEM still typically has robust intrinsic value, though, and doesn’t depend so much upon the ridiculous inflation of the value of university credentials. The woman who spent thousands of pounds and several years of her life doing vanity projects in gender studies will not be so well off, though.

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