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'Girl Power? An analysis of peer effects using exogenous changes in the gender make-up of the peer group.'
Interviewers – James Hartigan & Petrie Hosken
James - We want to talk about education. It’s a subject that we talk about a lot on this programme because it’s something
we know matters to everyone in London whether you’ve got kids or you’re just worried about the future generations and
specifically gender when it comes to education. The idea of segregating classes by gender, with research today confirming
that boys in primary school performed significantly better in English tests if their taught in classes with fewer girls. This
is research which has been conducted by Bristol University in fact were going speak to the man who conducted the
research in just a moment. It concluded it might be beneficial for boys to be educated in single sex classes. This is because
girls tend to be ahead of boys in English, their more likely to answer questions, more likely to raise their hands and
behave confidently and boys are more likely to be distracted, are more likely to hide in the background. I have mixed
feelings on this one. Primary school I was in a mixed school. At the age of 11 I went to secondary school which was an all
boy’s school. And whilst it may have benefited my academic education I’m not sure what it did for my social education.
Petrie - Yeah because your rubbish around girls aren’t you?
James - I tell you what when I went to university at the age of 18 it was like I just discovered the opposite sex for the first
time and trust me I’ve got friends who I was at school with who are now in their early 30s and some of them still cant talk
Petrie - Yeah I know men like that as well. I have mixed feelings about this as well. As you know I have a boy. I think
that its more to do with the way boys and girls are educated, I think that they have learnt in a different way and we’ve got
to respect the fact that there is some study about boys having to walk around while their learning, being active and that’s
how they get stuff stuck in their brains and girls get taught in a different way.
James - Clearly there are pros and cons. Mick Brooks from the National Association of Head teachers said boys who are
a minority in a class can feel swamped by the high attaining girls but when you examine those pros and cons do you think
it is right to segregate classes? If you’ve got a son do you think he would fair better if the class was just full of boys if
there were no girls? If you’re a teacher at a single sex school tell us why you believe its better. And perhaps it’s too much
to go as far as to say that primary school education should be segregated. Maybe I back the idea of secondary schools
being single sex schools but primaries?
Petrie - Well joining us know is Steven Proud who’s the author of this report and he’s a PhD student at Bristol University
as well. Hello Steven.
Steven - Hi
Petrie - Thanks very much indeed for joining us. How did you reach this conclusion specifically?
Steven - What I’ve looked at is year on year changes in the proportion of girls in individual schools and the effect that has
on the outcomes that both boys and girls gain in English, Maths and Science at key stages 1, 2 & 3 & GCSE.
Petrie - Ok, is it the way they are taught as well Steven? You probably heard me saying, I’ve got a boy and I think boys
learn differently to girls to such a degree that I’m putting him in into a single sex school for his secondary education.
Steven Proud Interview on LBC Radio
Monday 28th April 2008 Steven - Certainly that is one argument that I have put forward in the paper that there may be some sort of bias in the way
that children are taught. If their in a more female class, there are more girls in their class then the teachers may focus their
teaching on a female teaching method that means the girls benefit in English.
Petrie - When my boy comes home from school, he’s state school primary at the moment and he always says that the girls
in his class tend to be goodie two shoes is the way he puts it. So when the boys step out of line even just a little bit they
get picked on a lot. Is that another issue that girls at that age, were looking around 8, 9, 10 years tend to be more
concentrated, certainly their writing is a lot better and teachers are judging boys against girls as supposed to looking at
them as separate entities.
Steven - There has been some other research that looks at how boys and girls behave differently in classes and that boys
tend to be picked on a little bit more that has been shown in other research. Some other research also on a similar topic to
what I have examined has suggested that if you have lots of boys in a class they can actually lead to there being more
disruption whether it is through teachers picking on them or through natural boisterousness and I think that may be shown
as evidence in the results I have in Maths and Science, which actually show both boys and girls do better if there are more
girls in the class at primary school.
Petrie - That’s very interesting. Steven Proud thank you very much indeed for joining us.