Since girls. Such absolutism has been attributed to

Since the mid-1990s there has been mass media interest in Britain’s ‘failing boys’. Year on year, when GCSE and A-Level results are published, produce causal accounts steeped in gender absolutism which pits boys against girls. Such absolutism has been attributed to the alleged gender gap and to a culture of ‘laddishness’ which militates against academic achievement (Reynold, 2007). However, concerns over boy’s academic performance in relation to that of girls is bound by historical evidence which situates boy’s academic performance as a social concern since the late 1600s (Frank, et al., 2003). Such concerns were elucidated by John Locke (1693), when he hinged the perceived underachievement in language acquisition by males to methods of instruction, an external factor (Frank, et al., 2003). Whilst voicing his concerns about the lamentable performance of male language acquisition, Locke engaged with binary references when he noted that girls have an aptitude for languages, although he hastily retorted this was due to girls ‘prattling with their French governesses’, and not as a result of their intellectual functioning (Frank, et al., 2003). In 1870 state elementary education was introduced to the United Kingdom. It is noted the teaching of younger pupils was regarded as female work. Smith (1999), observed that it is possible to interpret the label of teaching as feminised as three distinct but overlapping levels; statistical, cultural and political (Skelton, 2002).Statistics have reported women outnumber men by 5:1 as primary educators. In addition males continue to be disproportionally represented at headteacher level, with 1:4 males likely to become headteacher in comparison to 1:13 for females. In addition fundamental widespread effects on primary pedagogy and culture caused by the predominance of female teachers has elicited a barrage of discussion (Skelton, 2002). (Delamont, 1999), elucidates on these discussions in her work on Gender and the Discourse of Derision by stating female teachers hold low expectations of boys abilities. In addition the absence of male teacher role models creates problems for boys in terms of motivation, discipline and social interaction. Lastly, the way in which the curriculum is delivered and assessed favours girls teaching styles (Delamont, 1999). Such articulation of the feminisation of teaching is pivotal to the argument put forward in backlash politics (Skelton, 2002).The Department for Education and Skills highlights the extent of this attainment gap. In 2006, 62.3% of girls attending schools in England’s main sector achieved five or more A*-C GCSE’s or equivalent level two qualifications compared to 52.7% of boys. There have also been similar disparities in the East Midlands whereby figures report 60.5% of girls achieved A*-C grades, compared to 50.5% of boys (Kerrigan, 2011). In addition (Burgess, et al., 2004), report gender disparities are present at all four key stages of the curriculum. However, disparities are wider in English, than maths or science.In addition, it is reported by, (Marchbank, 2002), the age eight and year eight is a vital period for boys. If boys are seen to disengage with the curriculum at this vital point they become misplaced. This statement is reinforced by (Wilson, 2007), who states boys in early years of education face major barriers to learning, such as perceived lack of independence prior to starting school. In addition boys are less linguistically developed, as aforementioned. It is stated such barriers to learning pigeon-hole boy’s educational life cycle (Kerrigan, 2011).Conversely, feminist critiques argue that it is important to understand what is going on in relation to complex forms of class, ethnicity, gender, race and sexuality. In addition it is important to avoid the homogenising of boys and men, and recognise the differences between them (Burke, 2006). This is reinforced by (Connolly, 2006), who criticised the moral panic surrounding boys underachievement. (Connolly, 2006), posited further that such panic has tended to rely on crude comparisons of boys and girls as if they represent homogenised and distinct categories. Furthermore, in a recent report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (Cassen & Kingdom, 2007), found that white working class boys accounted for almost half of all young people leaving school with substandard to no qualifications. In addition they found the poverty gap is much greater than the gender gap. They noted attainment differences by poverty, which are based on the free school meal criteria, have little impact on gender disparities (Burgess, et al., 2004). However, it is found middle class girls outperform middle class boys, and working class girls outperform working class boys, which in turn has crucial implications for subsequent higher education disparities across class and gender lines. The National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification reinforce this statement, as statistics show social class effect on higher education appear more significant than gender effects (Kerrigan, 2011). For example, males in higher social classes are more likely to enter higher education than females in lower social classes. Conversely, prior attainment trends report females are more likely to enter higher education irrespective of their socio-economic status (Kerrigan, 2011). It can be concluded, one of the most significant implications of the post-feminist discourse of successful girls, is the implications it has had on the understanding of gender and education. Furthermore, it has created a shift from feminist understandings of sexism as permeating the wider fabric of society, thus resulting in a recuperative masculinity politics focused on raising boys achievement (Ringrose & Epstein, 2015).


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