Boys ‘twice as likely fall behind’


The report, based on a University of Bristol study, states that boys are more likely than girls to have fallen behind by the time they start school and that they often never catch up.

It compared boys’ and girls’ scores in the early language and communication goals of the EYFS– an assessment sat by all pupils in England at the end of Reception.

Save the Children reports that a quarter of boys in England (90,000) started Reception class unable to speak full sentences and follow simple instructions. Director, Gareth Jenkins added, “In England, too many children, especially boys, are slipping under the radar without the support they need to reach their potential.”

In the last year, 25% of boys were unable to listen to basic instructions and answers questions such as “how” and “why,” compared to 14% of girls.

Whilst for those with access to free school meals, the difference was most obvious, with 38% of boys not meeting the standards compared to 23% of girls.

The report states that it’s not clear whether the results of biological differences or social progress, but does highlight that girls outperform boys at every level of education.

The report concludes: “We cannot wait for disadvantaged children and boys to get to school before they receive the support they need.

“By this time many will have already fallen behind, with negative consequences for their childhoods, school attainment and life chances.

“We must invest in the best early years provision, led by early years teachers and supported by skilled staff at all levels, particularly in the most deprived areas.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education responded saying “”the number of qualified staff is rising with more trained graduates in the workforce and a record number of providers rated Good or Outstanding.

“This investment is paying off, latest figures show more than 80% of children are reaching the expected communication and language skills by age five, but we will continue working with the sector until every child gets the high-quality education they deserve.”


One thought on “Boys ‘twice as likely fall behind’

  • July 18, 2016 at 11:28 am

    From my experience I have seen boys and girls going into school and never being able to ‘catch up’. This is particularly a problem, I think, because they go in so early. The development has not reached a stage, where they can cope with the ‘rigorous’ system we now impose in Reception (a lot of information mainly based on writing, which can only materialise with normal development). Therefore these children are trying to learn on a different playing field. If all children had a good foundation (2 – 5, even 7 years), there would be more of an even playing field and a better outcome. This does not mean children cannot learn to read etc. As this is seen as a school based activity; again children are being deprived of their normal development; a problem with those children who could read earlier and have to ‘wait’ until school ‘teach’ it.

    Early Years could become more professional, if we were not told to ‘toilet them, and teach them to put their own coats and shoes on and listen to instructions.’ How does that help with their literacy development etc. In my experience most children can toilet themselves and put their coats on quite as normal development. For one thing; we need more reading; repeat reading of stories that can become favourites, so that children continually ask to be read to. Also better use of IT in the learning would help improve vocabulary and therefore understanding. Training in linguistics would help Early Years practitioners to be better informed.

    As a childminder, of course, I have the freedom to send children to school talking and even reading if they are ready. We cannot change the school system, but we can help the children to move into it with more confidence and maybe then the outcomes will be better.


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