Ground-breaking research has found that female teachers give boys worse marks according to a report in The Independent Newspaper.
Apparently boys lower their sights if they think their work is going to be marked by a woman because they believe their results will be worse.
And the research, published by the Centre for Economic Performance, shows that female teachers, on average, award lower marks to boys than unidentified external examiners.
The research adds weight to the argument that we need more men in schools – but this is NOT the reason why we need more men in schools.
It may – or may not – be true, that boys will get better results when they have more male teachers – but getting more men into schools in order to improve boys’ results is bound to cause resentment and resistance amongst the mainly female teaching profession.
According to the Gender and Education Association, feminist thinkers are critical of strategies to address the ‘problem with boys’ and question the need for more male teachers and for boy-friendly teaching methods. They claim the gender of the teacher has no effect on how well boys achieve in school.
And they may or may not be right. The fact is boys in general do worse in school and they deserve to be the subject of positive action to improve their school results which will have a massive impact on their life chances.
And it really doesn’t matter what that action is – what matters is that schools come clean about the facts, admit they are doing worse for boys than girls, make a commitment to do better and then get measured on their results.
Does this mean that we don’t necessarily need more men in schools? Not at all, but this is a separate issue. We don’t need more men in schools to improve boys’ results (though if it has this positive knock-on effect then brilliant).
The reason we need more men in schools – whether that’s teachers, male support workers, male volunteers or dads and other male family members is much more straightforward.
The public sector is expected under equality legislation to ensure that its workforce reflects the communities it serves. As the community that schools serve is 50% boys, it is a major inequality issue that only 15% of primary school teachers are male
And more broadly boys are growing up in families and communities they are far less likely to grow up around same sex adult role models – which is even more reason for us to take positive action to get more men in schools.
And if boys do better in terms of exam results in the process, then that would be a huge bonus.