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HEAD ON… Boys will be boys

February 12th, 2016

Andrew Daniel Head On - Boys will be boys‘Smart apart, but clever together’ has become somewhat of a mantra at the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools. It used to be a taboo to suggest boys and girls learnt differently, but here we know that each sex benefits immensely from learning environments which are specifically tailored to suit their needs.

Across the UK in 2015, there was a difference of 8.4% between the number of girls achieving A* – C grades in GCSEs (73.1%) and boys earning the equivalent results (64.7%).

However, at Monmouth School and HMSG there was a different story, with a gap of only 4.3% occurring between the genders. Over at HMSG, 99.6% of girls earned A* – Cs, with 95.3% of the boys here mirroring their success. At A level boys performed better in some areas, with 22.6% achieving A*s while 17.1% of girls at our sibling school were awarded A*s.

Nationally, 25.9% of all pupils were awarded A* – As, while 43.4% of boys earned the same grades at Monmouth. Of course we understand the importance of children learning to socialise comfortably with members of each sex, and so we organise mixed activities, music, drama and foreign trips. But we passionately believe the reason our pupils excel is down to the carefully crafted lessons at Monmouth, specifically designed to inspire and motivate boys.

Here are my top strategies to promote boys’ learning, adapted across the whole of Monmouth School:

  1. Boys are motivated when learning objectives, with a “real-world” context, are clearly defined at the start of the lesson;
  2. A summary at the end of each lesson is important for boys
  3. Boys like a mix of different learning styles, including visual (images), auditory (listening), and kinaesthetic (movement);
  4. They like ‘chunked up’ information: complicated tasks broken down into stages, and a fast pace with targets, short instructions, and immediate rewards;
  5. Group work can be very effective for boys;
  6. Praise: boys are motivated even more highly than girls by praise
  7. To channel boys’ energy use physical activities in lessons, such as soft ball games for question-and-answer;
  8. Boys are motivated by friendly competition in lessons;
  9. Assessment for boys should focus on attainment rather than effort, and focus on quantitative targets;
  10. Self-assessment: there is clear research to show that giving boys the opportunity to assess or mark their own work can raise their attainment.

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