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Issues - gender Bias -
Girls ahead of boys in all spheres

Girls ahead of boys aged five in new assessment
By John Clare, Education Editor
(Filed: 25/06/2004)

By the age of five, girls are already ahead of boys in all 13 of the "foundation stage" activities on which they are assessed in their first year at school, statistics published yesterday showed.
The gap between the sexes was widest in "creative development", a measure of the "skills and understanding that are necessary for children to express their ideas, feelings and preferences".
Here, 58 per cent of the girls reached the top two levels of the nine-point scale, but only 42 per cent of the boys.
Many of the boys fell at the fence that required them to show they used their imagination in art and design, music, dance, role play and stories.
Published for the first time, the figures confirmed a pattern of achievement that persists throughout primary and secondary school and on to higher education.
They are based on the 117 judgments that teachers are required to make about the progress of every child between the ages of three and five. Parents will be told the results, but they will not be published school by schools.
The figures showed that the gap between boys and girls was narrowest when they were asked to demonstrate their "knowledge and understanding of the world".
Fifty per cent of the boys and 52 per cent of the girls could "construct with a wide range of objects" - making collages and stick puppets, for example - and "begin to explore what it means to belong to a variety of groups and communities".
An example of the latter was "understanding that harvest is linked to the work of farmers and is a time of sharing and saying thank you".
Physical development was the area in which both sexes scored highest, with 68 per cent of girls and 56 per cent of the boys able to show that they recognised the importance of keeping healthy and could demonstrate "co-ordination and control in large and small movements, and in using a range of equipment".
All 500,000 of the children who were assessed scored lowest on the literacy and numeracy scales. Nearly one in five could not "link sounds to letters, naming and sounding letters of the alphabet".
One in seven could not write their own name from memory, or the words "mum", "dad" and "cat". One in eight could not "relate addition to combining two groups".
Overall, only a third of the children could "begin to form simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation" or read more than three-letter words using phonic knowledge.
More than half could count up to 10 but could not "solve practical problems" such as separating 10 objects into two groups.
The results showed that, on average, five-year-olds were motivated and excited to learn; formed good relationships with adults and peers; were sensitive to the needs, views and feelings of others; took turns in conversation; knew that, in English, print is read from left to right and top to bottom; could hold a pencil and use it to form recognisable letters; used "greater", "smaller", "heavier" or "lighter" to compare quantities; and asked questions about why things happen and how things work.
The Department for Education said the figures should be treated with caution because the teachers who made the assessments had received "limited and variable" training.
The National Association of Head Teachers condemned the process as bureaucratic, time-consuming and "in dire need of radical overhaul".
The National Union of Teachers said it was considering a boycott.

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