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Girls are smarter than boys

An expert says that we should “just accept that females are cleverer” as girls are set to increase their lead over male peers in GCSE results.

In the middle of August half a million teenagers received their results based on teachers’ predicted grades after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. It was expected that the proportion of top grades will be higher than in 2020 and significantly higher than in 2019, the last year of proper examinations.

A report published by Buckingham University’s Centre for Education and Employment forecast that girls would cement their lead overall, and even more firmly in individual subjects.  The author, Professor Alan Smithers, said there had not been much difference between boys’ and girls’ grades in the old O-level grading system, but that ever since the creation of the GCSE almost 40 years ago females have consistently outperformed males.

The report said: “This was explained as being due to the new modular structure of GCSEs, which favoured the consistent and conscientious application of girls, in contrast to boys who showed up best in final exams. When GCSEs were reformed, however, to become more like O-levels, the girls’ lead was dented only slightly. Now, with teacher assessment, girls have gone further ahead and it has been suggested this is because teachers favour them.”

A series of reforms by former education secretary Michael Gove began in 2017, and these led to a slight narrowing of the gap between boys and girls. Under the reforms, coursework was scrapped and more emphasis was placed on the final exams – a move which appeared to favour boys. However, Prof Smithers said: “Girls have long been ahead in schoolwork, but the tendency has been to explain away their superior performance. When they did better in the 11-plus, it was said that they matured earlier, when they leapt ahead in GCSEs, it was said that it was because they worked harder, and now with teacher assessment the impression is that they are favoured by the teachers. Why can’t we just accept that they are cleverer?”

The gap between private and state schools was also expected to widen this year, reflecting a trend seen in A-level results. Neil Roskilly, of the Independent Schools Association, said it was a “desperate shame” that state school results would be worse, but this was a “long-term issue”.

He said if the Government wants to see improved results at state schools, it needs to invest in them. He stated that this has been particularly apparent during the past year, when private schools successfully pivoted to a remote learning set-up during lockdowns, while some state schools struggled to cope.

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