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‘We’re in danger of failing generation of boys’ - council urged to fulfill pledge to close school gender gap

PUBLISHED: 16:54 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:54 15 June 2020

Norfolk County Council is to investigate the disparity in attainment for boys and girls at Key Stage 2. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Norfolk County Council is to investigate the disparity in attainment for boys and girls at Key Stage 2. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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Education chiefs have pledged an investigation into the gap between how well boys perform compared to girls in Norfolk’s schools will be relaunched in the autumn despite having “stalled” due to coronavirus.

Independent councillor and former education chief Mick Castle who has raised trhe issue of disparity between boys and girls attainment in Norfolk. Picture: Sandra SquireIndependent councillor and former education chief Mick Castle who has raised trhe issue of disparity between boys and girls attainment in Norfolk. Picture: Sandra Squire

Earlier this year Norfolk County Council unanimously agreed a motion for the council to investigate the disparity in attainment for boys and girls at Key Stage 2, shortly before primary pupils join secondary school.

Independent councillor and former education and schools member at the county council, Mick Castle, has since raised the issue through a series of questions to the council’s cabinet committee and has written to Ofsted.

Mr Castle said Ofsted analysis of last summer’s GCSE results also showed an overall eight per cent gap between boys and girls and urged the council to ‘ringfence’ sufficient funds to fund pilot schemes to address the issue.

Ofsted analysis of 2019 GCSE results also showed an overall eight per cent gap between boys and girls in Norfolk. Picture: Getty ImagesOfsted analysis of 2019 GCSE results also showed an overall eight per cent gap between boys and girls in Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images

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He added: “They have said they are going to put their effort into the primary phase and it will permeate through and we won’t get these massive discrepancies between girls and boys performance at GCSE, but I’m sceptical.

“The performance of boys on the 2019 GCSE results showed some of the schools had staggering gaps in results with girls. That cannot be right and it is failing a whole generation of boys.”

In response the council said it was keen to engage with schools and trusts to identify “common issues” and was in the process of establishing a Norfolk Commissioning Hub to bring together headteachers.

Mick Castle urged the council to learn from schools like Great Yarmouth Charter Academy on how they closed the gap between boys and girls. Picture; David HannantMick Castle urged the council to learn from schools like Great Yarmouth Charter Academy on how they closed the gap between boys and girls. Picture; David Hannant

“Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis did stall these plans, but we are keen to get this work back on track in the autumn term with school leaders,” it added.

In another question Mr Castle urged the council to engage with academy chains like the Inspiration Trust that he said “appear to have secured better performance by boys in disadvantaged areas in Norwich and Great Yarmouth”.

The council said: “We agree that there remains a gap between the performance of boys and girls in Norfolk, however we are pleased to note this gap is smaller than that nationally.

“Last year there was a 5.8pc gap between girls and boys for a strong pass in English and maths. Nationally this was 6.6pc.”

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It added: “Secondary schools determine their own approaches to teaching learning and curriculum and some share practice with each other.

“The local authority wants to invest in the early development of language and communication skills and early reading to better support many Norfolk boys in their journey through school.”

In his response, Ofsted lead inspector Adrian Lyons thanked Mr Castle for “raising this important matter”

He added: “I would assure you that the issues you mention are considered in all Ofsted inspections of Norfolk schools.”


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