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Reading: three in four boys lagging behind

04/07/2012 Kelly
English teachers may need to spend more time encouraging boys to read after it was revealed that three-quarters of male pupils in UK schools are falling behind with reading.

Following a review by the All-Party Parliamentary Literacy Group Commission, it was revealed that 76 per cent of boys are underachieving when it comes to reading, and there is currently no direct strategy aimed at tackling the problem.

According to the Boys' Reading Commission report put together by the National Literacy Trust, around 60,000 11-year-old boys did not manage to achieve their target reading level last year.

MPs from all political parties sat on the Commission and found evidence that the so-called 'reading gender gap' is widening, with a number of factors contributing to the problem.

Listening to evidence from a range of teachers, children's authors and literacy experts, the Commission heard that the gap starts at home with parents taking a different approach to reading for boys and girls, while boys were also found to be more susceptible to peer pressure.

Chair of the Commission Gavin Barwell MP said that the problem is not biological so not inevitable but requires major efforts to reverse and it is important that English teachers know which material will engage boys.

He added that by "making sure fathers understand their role as reading role models, getting volunteer male reading role models into our classrooms and using the media to change gender perceptions of reading we can close the gap".

Research conducted for the report found that boys were more likely than girls to think people who read are boring, with 18 per cent agreeing with the statement compared to 12.7 per cent of girls.

Boys were also less likely to be given a book as a gift and were more likely to favour watching television over reading than girls.

The report identified evidence of a reading gap at age five, but revealed that this gap expands as children age and, by the time they sit GCSE English exams, 14 per cent more girls get an A* to C.

Former children's laureate Michael Morpurgo believes that there is no quick fix, but efforts must be made to address the issue.

"The problem is cultural and deep-seated, therefore unlikely to be resolved quickly," he said. "The effort to turn things round has to be multi-faceted and has to be sustained over decades."

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801400231-ADNFCR
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