Exam results reveal widening gap between boys and girls

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The Independent Online

The widening academic gap between boys and girls is revealed today with the publication of A and AS-level results.

This year's A-level results, which will be received by about 250,000 candidates, show a rise in the pass rate for the 19th year in succession. It increases by 0.7 points to 89.2 per cent.

Girls have increased their lead in A grades over boys from 0.6 per cent to 0.8 per cent. Overall, their pass rate is 90.7 per cent – 1.9 points ahead of boys. But the biggest gap in performance is shown in the first AS-level results. Girls are 3.2 points ahead of boys at grade A and 4.2 points ahead overall.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The widening gap ... in the new AS-levels is a cause for real concern. This lends urgency to the need to drive up standards in the first three years of secondary school, otherwise boys will always lag behind and suffer when it comes to employment and university entrance."

Paul Sokoloff, convener of the Joint Council for General Qualifications, which represents the examination boards, said the performance of girls in AS- levels could be down to the exam relying more on coursework. "It is said that girls do better with coursework," he said.

The figures also show an unexpected drop in the number of A-level entries. They were down 23,000 to 748,866. The exam boards said this could be due to some results arriving too late to be included in the figures.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Liverpool University, said a shortfall of 23,000 would be unprecedented. "This would have serious implications for entry to higher education," he said.