Boys under-five are lagging behind their female counterparts in early-years learning, government statistics have revealed.
New figures released by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) show how many young children achieved specific learning goals last year.
While almost three-quarters of girls can complete a simple writing task such as a letter to Santa, the figure is lower for boys at 54 per cent.
Nearly eight in ten girls can hold a pencil and write their own name legibly compared with 62 per cent of boys.
Dawn Primarolo, children's minister, said: "We are making progress on narrowing the gender gap in young children's achievement but we know that we need to do more."
The results were based on a study of 230,000 five-year-olds that had just completed their first year at school and collected before the implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Since September last year, all pre-school learning providers have to follow a structured development plan, according to the Directgov website.