Education: Boys

Department for Education written question – answered at on 13 February 2024.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has taken steps to implement recommendation 27 on page 260 of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report entitled Equality and Human Rights Monitor, published in November 2023, on the under-performance of boys relative to girls in primary and secondary education.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

Raising attainment for all pupils, no matter their gender or background is at the heart of this government’s agenda and the government is committed to providing a world-class education system for all.

The latest data shows that, while girls continue to outperform boys across most headline measures, the gender gap between boys and girls is narrowing.

At key stage 2 in 2022/23, the gender gap between boys and girls at the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics has decreased since 2022 and is the lowest it has been since 2016. Key stage 4 results show the gender gap has narrowed across all headline measures when comparing 2022/23 with both 2018/19 and 2021/22.

The Schools White Paper, published in March 2022, was clear about the direction of travel needed to improve attainment. It set out the department’s long-term vision for a school system that helps every child to fulfil their potential by ensuring that they receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time – founded on achieving world-class literacy and numeracy.

This is supported by significant investment in education with the overall core school budget totalling over £59.6 billion in 2024/25 which is the highest ever level in real terms per pupil. This will help schools in their vital work to close attainment gaps, and level up educational opportunities.

Alongside this, the department takes a range of steps to improve attainment and outcomes for all pupils, including improving the quality of teaching and curriculum resources, strengthening the school system, increasing attendance, and providing targeted support where needed.

The department is aware that disadvantaged pupils and those with additional needs are more likely to fall behind and need extra support to reach their full potential. This is why the department has provided additional funding to support disadvantaged pupils through the pupil premium, which will rise to over £2.9 billion in 2024/25, an increase of £80 million from 2023/24.

Programmes such as free school meals that support 2 million children, the Holiday Activities and Food programme, and support for up to 2,700 breakfast clubs also support disadvantaged pupils.

The department continues to collaborate with other government departments to address out-of-school factors that we know have a significant impact on attainment outcomes.

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