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Evaluate The Claim That Recent Changes Within Schools Are The Main Factors Responsible For High Female Attainment

2069 words - 9 pages

Since the early 1990s girls have begun to out-perform boys at most levels of the education system. Explanations for this change include a number of factors that occur internally within schools. What used to be the underachievement of girls in the classroom led to the work of feminist sociologists in the 1970s and 1980s to put a greater emphasis on more equal opportunities policies in education. Teaching approaches and resources were monitored for sex bias to ensure more 'girl-friendly schooling', especially in the sciences.Alison Kelly studied some science textbooks and found that the pictures of experiments were always being conducted by males who were often supported by a female assistant. ...view middle of the document...

By 1993, Lesley Best found a contrast in the roles of boys and girls depicted in the readings. The female and male roles were now equal and had lost the inferred dominant ideology of society, giving females a greater sense of worth and equality.Policies such as GATE and GIST (Girls into Science and Technology) have been put into action to accommodate for female lack of interest in such subjects, which have been viewed as male only courses. The National Curriculum emphasis on science means that girls cannot avoid doing some 'hard' science. Single sex classes have also been introduced in order to allow the success of female students without the disruption of attention grabbing boys, the success of which can be measured by the achievement of girls in single sex schools. Also subjects such as PSE and citizenship classes have endorsed the exploration of sexism and have had an impact upon the attainment reached by girls. Exams in education are far more female friendly with the introduction of coursework rather than just exam based results. Coursework requires organisational skills and sustained motivation, the skills that girls seem to be better at than boys are.There is also some evidence to show that teachers are not as critical with boys as with girls. They may have lower expectations of boys, expecting work to be late, rushed and untidy, and expecting boys to be disruptive. Some research suggests that boys are less positively influenced than girls, or even turned off, by primary school environments which are female dominated and may have an emphasis on neatness and tidiness.However, in theory whilst it seems very easy, for schools to adopt all of these policies it is a different matter. Very few schools actually enforced these policies as they take time and money to follow through. Also the opinions and expectations teachers have cannot be changed over such a short period of time. The idea of coursework providing an opening forfemale achievement is undermined by the fact that the percentage of coursework contributing to the final grade is decreasing and yet at the same time girls' attainment levels are still on the increase. Single sex classes have never been properly introduced as they were rejected by many girls who felt that it was a punishment for something that they had done wrong and they wanted to be in a class with both boys and girls.Changes outside of the classroom may also be responsible for the recent high female attainment. These external factors can be either as a result of a change in the labour market or a change in female attitudes. Recently there has been a decline in the manufacturing industry. Mac an Ghaill (1994) suggest that working class boys are experiencing a 'crisis of masculinity'. They are socialised into seeing their future male identity and role in terms of having a job and being a 'breadwinner'. However, the decline of manufacturing industry and the rise in long-term unemployment make it increasingly unlikely that...

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