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Recruiting male teachers 'will not close gender gap'


Recruiting male teachers 'will not close gender gap'
Alexandra Frean

Government plans to recruit more male teachers to act as positive role models for boys may be counter-productive, research suggests.

Alan Johnson, the former Education Secretary, called this year for more men to work as primary teachers. But research published yesterday by the new Department for Children, Schools and Families found little evidence that this "simplistic" approach works, and suggested that male teachers could be too harsh on boys.

The report, Gender and Education: The Evidence on Pupils in England, indicated that there was no case for adopting "boyfriendly" teaching methods in an attempt to close the gender gap. It said also that there was still uncertainty as to whether single-sex education improved the performance of girls or boys, concluding that the ethos of the school was far more important.

The study follows growing concern about the widening attainment gap between boys and girls. Results last summer showed that by the age of 14 boys were, on average, 14 per cent behind girls in their national test results for English.

Those from poor homes fared even worse. Girls also attain better results in maths and science, although the gap is narrower than for English.

The report noted that only 16 per cent of teachers in primary schools, and 46 per cent of teachers in secondary schools, were men. But it concluded there was "very little evidence to date as to whether a teacher's gender does or does not play a significant role in their pupils' attainment". It added that two thirds of pupils felt that the gender of their teacher was not important.

The report cited research indicating that older pupils thought that men were harsher than women on boys. "Male teachers were seen as treating boys more harshly, while female teachers treated boys and girls more equally.

"This finding does suggest caution in simply asserting that having male role models in the classroom is a good thing for boys," it said.

The report added that girls and boys had different "learning styles", and that girls showed greater motivation. "Overall, trends indicate that girls and boys seem to relate differently to schooling and learning and girls find it easier to succeed in school settings," the report said.

"Combating images of laddish masculinity and establishing a strong school ethos were seen as central to raising the attainment of boys."



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