Boys and Writing

As my research question will (eventually) be clarified to an aspect of boy’s writing in the primary schools, I have been reading around the issues involved with writing, and more specifically the theory around the gender gap between girls and boys in English attainment at KS1 and 2.

National Curriculum Test Levels from 2008, show 68% of children achieved a Level 4 or above in their writing at the end of KS2. In terms of gender, there is a big gap between girls and boys attainment as 75% of girls and only 61% of boys achieved this level in writing. The statistics state this is an increase of 1 percentage point from 2007. The provisional results for 2009 currently show a 0% increase from 2008, with the percentages staying exactly the same.

Having seen the figures, it is clear that work still needs to be done to narrow the gap in attainment and bring boy’s writing levels up to the standard of girls. It is important to note with all of this that there are, of course, a large amount of boy’s who do achieve good levels in their writing in the primary schools, it is just that when generalizing, the boy’s attainment falls below that of the girls.

An interesting questions that was raised for me during this reading was: Why is there still a gap? Professionals have been considering this gender gap for over a decade, publishing research into what needs to be done to raise attainment, and the evidence is that teachers and schools are listening and following advice. Despite this, there is still a generalized ‘low’ in boy’s writing. In pointing this out, I wish to say I am not criticizing any teachers work, and am not saying that not enough is being done, I am just making an interesting point.

Having noted the clear gap in boy’s writing I was interested to find out what theories or ideas were being implemented to attempt to try and raise boy’s attainment. One recurring theme of this reading was that in order to raise attainment, we need first to transform boy’s attitudes to writing and motivate them to want to write, to see the benefits of writing, and to enjoy it. It is this that I hope to make the link to in my research. With the ceaseless ‘revolution in the landscape of communication’ (Kress, 2003) children are engaging in many different modes of literacy outside of the classroom.

There is a certain dissonance between home and school environments and within this, the value of different contexts of writing. Currently there are children ‘sitting in our classrooms who view themselves and the world in quite new ways and who have needs around text and literacy that cannot be met within these models of the curriculum’ (Carrington, 2005). This needs to be addressed.

One thing that scares me…it was 5 years since that was written. Time and technology development is exponential, is the curriculum following suit?