Bring back the boys

On the news today: we may be about to see a shift in emphasis from coursework to exams, in the UK national qualifications for 16 year olds. First, a few weeks ago, it was announced that coursework will be reduced in some subjects because of concerns about cheating. Second, and new today, there’s pressure for the government to allow an alternative “international” qualification, already popular in some private schools, in the state sector.

Here’s a prediction: a move from coursework assessment to exams will improve boys results relative to girls.

That calls for some context. The most widely reported context is that, for some years, published statistics have shown girls significantly outperforming boys at school.

The background to that, and what made it inevitable, is the Agenda of promoting womens issues, that has been dominant in this country’s culture since the middle of the last century. It’s one of those things that’s taken as an article of faith by our Powers That Be, and can’t be questioned. The move from exams to coursework was in part tied in with that agenda: at the time, boys were outperforming girls, and some commentators rightly predicted that the changes (of which coursework was an important part) would help close that gap.


Posted on October 25, 2006, in education, rants, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You are absolutely right, “bring back the boys!” Not a minute too soon. When schools move back from favouring coursework to exams, all students will benefit, not just the boys. Coursework grades are very much influenced by behaviour (such as turning the work in late), while exams focus on what a student knows and has learned.

    If schools move from emphasizing coursework to exams, the UK will once again be ahead of the U.S. But both countries desperately need more smart boys in the workforce of the 21st century. Nice column.

  2. Well, it took a decade. But it seems that this year, A-levels have finally moved back to exams, and the boys have simultaneously moved ahead of the girls. Who’d’a’thunkit?
    Story in the mainstream press – e.g.

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