The Department for Education doesn’t consider boys’ under-achievement in schools as a matter of the slightest concern

William Collins was the author of two important pieces about the education gender gap, which leads to about 60% of university places going to women, The trouble with boys in education and Teachers’ unfairness to boys?. In the first piece he showed that the gender gap first emerged in 1987/8, the same year O Levels were replaced by GCSEs. Continuous assessments are integral to GCSEs, and this led directly and inevitably to the gender gap, because they allowed teachers’ anti-male marking bias to manifest itself in a way that hadn’t been possible with O Levels.

The education gender gap has been with us ever since, and we wouldn’t expect Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary as well as Minister for Women & Equalities, to give a damn about the matter. All the same, we publicly challenged her last month, and asked for some questions to be answered under the FoI Act – here. The letter included links to the two pieces by William Collins.

We’ve just received a response from the Department for Education. Our first two questions were about initiatives encouraging boys and girls to study subjects historically regarded as largely the preserve of the opposite sex. The response points to two initiatives, which together will cost taxpayers £7.1 million in the current financial year. They are aimed at increasing participation of both boys and girls in mathematics and physics A levels, ‘… but they do place some additional emphasis on addressing the low proportion of girls progressing to these A levels’. We picked Psychology and English Literature as female-dominated fields, and needless to say, no initiatives are in place to encourage more boys to study these subjects.

Our third question was:

Does the DfE recognize boys’ underachievement as a problem to be addressed, and if so, what initiatives are in place, and how much is budgeted for them in 2015/16?

The first part of the question wasn’t addressed, but we can infer the attitude of the DfE from the following:

The Department does not fund any initiatives that just focus on addressing boys’ underachievement. The Government’s education reforms are designed to ensure that all children, whatever their gender, have the opportunity to attain well at school.

Our fourth question was:

Does the DfE recognize that boys’ academic attainments have suffered as a result of an increasingly feminized teaching workforce? …are there any initiatives underway to encourage more men into teaching?

Once again, the first part of the question wasn’t answered, but we can infer the attitude of the DfE from the following:

There are no initiatives aimed at encouraging more men into teaching.

We consider the DfE response to be insubstantive – evading two key questions – so we’ll keep our public challenge of Ms Morgan on the long list of public challenges of feminists (and their male collaborators) which haven’t received substantive responses. The full list of those challenges is here.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • arc wales

    As someone who has vast experience in education this does not surprise me at all.



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    • Thanks Arc. It doesn’t surprise us either, but it’s important we establish the official positions in the areas we campaign about.

  • Indeed it is important to challenge the lack of action. Either they are wrong or something had changed as there certainly was an initiative to encourage men to apply to be trained as primary teachers . The resonse is lazy if nothing else.

  • I remember there being previous attempts to recruit more male teachers? Perhaps this was by bodies lower down the hierarchy than DfE? (or perhaps they’ve just given up now?).

    When it comes to sexist marking by female teachers, it’s worth emphasising that the problem won’t simply be as simple as solely a direct impact on the actual GCSE grade awarded by on particular teacher. Students are assessed each year and often place into different classes based on ability. So, sexist grading at age 12-13 is going to result in average intelligence boys being wrongly placed in classes with the least able and most disruptive students. This will not only further impact on their grades, but once they’re locked into such classes they are typically entered in for particularly “easy” GCSE papers and not even taught the full syllabus, with the drawback that the maximum possible achievable grade is a “C” (even without sexist grading). I’m not fully up-to-date with my knowledge of these matters but i expect this is still going on now. Anyhow, it’s important to understand sexism against boys as a process throughout their entire education.

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  • Mike, perhaps there needs to be a little more teasing out of the methodology etc. of the 2 initiatives – Further Maths & Physics? Is there a skeleton in the cupboard where there is positive discrimination in favour of girls at the expense of boys?

    • Thanks Michael. DfE have admitted the only positive discrimination is in favour of girls. If there were even one example of PD in favour of boys, we can be sure they’d have trumpeted it from the rooftops! Have a good weekend.

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  • epistemol

    As you say the offical response to your questions make their attitudes QUITE clear, and are evasive and insulting.
    My own personal view is that the Men’s Movement must concentrate above all else on boy’s education and qualificational achievements, since this is the FUTURE and will determine what the lives of men as yet unborn will be like in the decades to come.
    Any senior men still around may well be asked “what did you do in fight for men grandpa?”.

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