Teach boys and girls in the same way, says exam board research director

The TES is reporting comments from Tim Oates that tackling boys’ underachievement by teaching them differently from girls is “absolutely wrong”.

Mr Oates, research director for the Cambridge Assessment exams group, said that offering boys and girls different styles of learning was misguided. Learning strategies generally given to girls had been proven to work just as well with boys, he added.

Speaking at a conference on gender differences, Mr Oates said that only by studying which learning strategies worked and making them available to both sexes could we reduce the disparity between boys’ and girls’ achievement…

“A number of people have said that, because we have such a large problem with under-attaining boys, we have to have boy-friendly pedagogy in schools,” Mr Oates said.

“The kind of strategies that girls use – ‘I’m not innately good at this, so therefore I have to work hard’ – have been empirically shown to benefit boys as well, so it’s actually through the examination of what optimises attainment and making it available to all groups by which we will reduce these differences…”

More at: Teach boys and girls in the same way, says exam board research director


So are boys doing less well in schools because currently they are being taught differently to girls? 

That seems a pretty big call or am I misunderstanding what Tim Oates is getting at?

What do you think? Are there ways that boys can respond differently to learning and times when a different approach could help them, or should all children be treated the same, regardless of sex?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


Should boys and girls be offered different learning strategies?


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Categories: Learning and Teaching.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Ultimately allow teachers to get to know their classes and choose an appropriate method using experience and judgement

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The constant lack of trust in teachers from many sections of society is a tad depressing; allow teachers to do their job

  3. andylutwyche

    WirralGov SchoolsImprove Thank you! You are a governor though so know that generally teachers can be trusted to do the right thing!

  4. Straingerside SchoolsImprove Oates was part of the National Curriculum Review Panel.  Two of the three experts drafted in to help later objected to the report and resigned.  It was suspected the final NC was drafted by Tim Oates and Gove’s nominees.  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/06/proof-that-gove-by-passed-his-own-expert-panel-to-push-through-idiotic-curriculum-changes/
    His bio says he was a government ‘adviser’ among other things.  Couldn’t find any mention of actual teaching experience.  https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/people/view/tim-oates/

  5. How to get a job as Director of Education at a Cambridge college – do research, get stuck in to stats, advise the government, but don’t do much actual classroom teaching.   Bet he gets paid more than £65k a year.  https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/people/view/tim-oates/

  6. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove-Strategies employed will vary according to the group in front of you. That’s when experience kicks in.

  7. TW

    andylutwyche WirralGov SchoolsImprove  Not entirely though, according to Ofsted – you can’t just rely on what the HT tells you, you have to have independent evidence that what the HT says is correct.

  8. MinnaTorikka

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Respect for the teachers must be gained back. Value of these educators needed to be raised up.#school#respect

  9. peterabarnard

    SchoolsImprove Isn’t wonderful just how much contradictory research there is… and we want schools to do more…crazy times…

  10. wasateacher

    It isn’t a gender issue in this polarised way.  Many different children respond to many different ‘learning strategies’ and often the strategy which may suit one child today doesn’t suit them tomorrow.  When I used an individualised Maths scheme I could set work according to the child.  It may have been that they needed closed prescriptive tasks at some point but at others they were happy with more open ended investigative work.  It may have depended on other things in their lives.

    However, as posted before, I would love to see research on the differences in the ways girls and boys are treated at birth.  Have you noticed how people always seem to need to know whether a baby is a girl or a boy in order to respond to it?

  11. EvidenceTeach

    peterabarnard SchoolsImprove If combine classroom-evidence (Hattie, EEF etc) with brain/learning-evidence, a non-fuzzy picture exists.

  12. peterabarnard

    EvidenceTeach SchoolsImprove No it just gets fuzzier and focuses minds on the teacher rather than the system that produces sameness

  13. wasateacher

    Janet2 wasateacher I’m still smarting from not being allowed to do woodwork and metalwork but, instead, being forced to do cookery and sewing (a boy was allowed to do cookery because he said he was going to be a chef!)

  14. peterabarnard

    EvidenceTeach Supporting teachers is fine and fun. It is simply not everything. The way schools are managed has to change first to benefit

  15. peterabarnard

    EvidenceTeach I worry that we think teachers are somehow the problem and this takes the focus off systemic change. Always interested in ET

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