This is the time of year when Clarks is full of small children being fitted for new school shoes. Spare a thought for all those littlies who will be starting Big School in the next couple of weeks, some of them only just past their fourth birthday. Stats from the DCSF last month showed how many children had reached early learning goals as a baseline before the implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage from September 2008, and revealed a gender gap with girls outperforming boys. One in four boys couldn't write their own name compared with 15% of girls, and one in five couldn't count to ten. Girls were also found to be more creative than boys, whereas boys had a slightly better 'knowledge and understanding of the world' with 54% able to build objects with appropriate tools and techniques compared with 48% of girls.
Does it matter? Teachers have long recognised that boys and girls develop at different rates and some people would argue that boys' motor skills aren't as well developed as girls' at age five, so it's not surprising that they find it difficult to write - they'll catch up. But it does matter if boys get labelled as underperforming, or their lack of success puts them off school, or one-size-fits-all targets means that they're seen as problems right at the start of their school career. Others would argue that all children should start formal school later and small children need more freedom to play. This publication from the DCSF is really interesting, addressing some of the myths of the role of gender in education while the Teachernet website has research and evidence from the DCFS current emphasis on gender in education.