Women teachers are holding back boys

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They are reinforcing stereotypes that boys are ‘silly’ in class, refuse to ‘sit nicely like the girls’ and are more likely to indulge in ‘schoolboy pranks’.

Women teachers may also unwittingly perpetuate low expectations of boys’ academic achievement and encourage girls to work harder by letting them think they are cleverer.

Schools should avoid dividing pupils into ability groups because the practice often results in girls dominating the higher-achieving tables, concluded the Kent University research.

The study of primary schools in the county suggests that under-performance among boys in most national exams could be linked to lower expectations.

The research mainly implicates women teachers, since nearly 90 per cent of primary school teachers are female. It warned that school staff find boys’ play, such as wielding toy guns, ‘particularly challenging and difficult’.

Boys are punished and urged to conform to a more feminine style of play instead of being taught how to play responsibly with their preferred toys.

Bonny Hartley, the study’s lead author, said: ‘By seven or eight years old, children of both genders believe that boys are less focused, able, and successful than girls – and think that adults endorse this stereotype. There are signs that these expectations have the potential to become self-fulfilling in influencing children’s actual conduct and achievement.’

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