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To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the causes of the disparity in GCSE attainment between boys and girls.
Girls have out-performed boys since GCSE examinations were introduced in 1988. In 2008 69.9 per cent. of girls and 60.9 per cent. of boys achieved 5+ A*-C grade GCSEs. Girls are ahead of boys at all stages of education. The gap in England has been broadly stable over two decades, and is in line with that in other OECD countries.
The reasons are complex but appear mainly related to differences of biology, maturation, and attitudes to learning and reading at different ages. The Department's 2007 research paper "Gender and education: the evidence on pupils in England", of which there is a copy in the Library of the House, sets out the research evidence.
Two points should be noted: first, boys' GCSE attainment has improved sharply over the past decade, broadly keeping pace with that of girls; second, gender gaps can be minimised by good teaching practice and by the encouragement of reading, ensuring that pupils of both genders make good progress.
Through its "Gender Agenda" programme the Department has been leading a programme of action research activities designed to identify and spread good practice in raising boys' motivation and attainment. An interim report has been published and a final report will be made available at the end of the programme.