The Guardian is reporting new figures suggesting that boys starting school are being outperformed by their female classmates, with more than a third failing to reach the expected level in writing and a quarter struggling with numbers.
The gender gap among the youngest schoolchildren has narrowed marginally, but girls continue to lead the way in all early learning goals, with 74.3% achieving the expected level of development compared with 58.6% of boys.
For those achieving a good level of development, the gender gap has reduced from 16.3 percentage points in 2014 to 15.6 percentage points this year, but early years experts warned that it remained “substantial” and have called for action to alter the trend.
Publishing the data on Tuesday, the Department for Education said results showed that more five-year-olds than ever before were achieving the expected standards in maths and literacy, with more than two-thirds making good progress.
It said an extra 38,600 five-year-olds were reaching the expected level of development in maths and literacy, as well as in communication and language, personal, social, physical and emotional development.
However, critics pointed out that one in five children still starts school without vital skills. Gareth Jenkins, director of UK poverty at the charity Save the Children, said: “Today’s figures show that despite progress, one in five children still arrive at school lacking the skills they need to learn and thrive…
See more on this directly from the DfE at: More children than ever starting school ready to learn
Should we be celebrating the record numbers reaching the expected levels or concerned at the continuing gender gap (or both)?
Please give us your reactions to the figures in the comments below or via Twitter.
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