Open Eye: Letter: Catching up - at a price?

I have a particular interest in the article "looking for ways to help lads catch up" by Yvonne Cook (Open Eye, October), both because of personal experience and concern for the way in which this might be done - perhaps a return to discrimination against girls and not just complacency about girls as the article suggests.

But for the way the pass mark was calculated for the 11-plus, the gender differential in the learning process might well have become apparent earlier. This process discriminated against girls overall and to a lesser degree boys in county areas, by operating a quota system for grammar school places to the benefit of city boys.

I believe the policy aim was to reinforce the stereotypical image of rural lower classes, and girls only as wives and mothers. By this means children, many of them girls, who failed the 11 plus examination were labelled as academically inferior. This label has both economic and psychological affects on people.

During 1996 the Thatcher government touted the idea of a return to the 11-plus. This, together with the reduction of grants for social science courses made me ask whether there was another political agenda; that of releasing jobs for men. Could this be because social science courses attract more women than men, and as more women learn about their unequal position in society the less likely they are to conform to the political aim to return them to the home and release jobs for men?

Had the Conservative party been returned to power then once again another generation of women could have had their life chances limited. Discrimination against girls in the education system has come in many guises. For example it was not until examination papers contained numbers instead of names that there could be any guarantee of an equal opportunity to pass examinations.

If, too, men are still occupying most of the top jobs should we be asking why? Could there be other discriminating factors at work here, rather than making the assumption that women have less ability? In looking for ways to help the lads catch up I hope the education policies from the past are not repeated.

By all means find a way to help boys catch up, but not by discriminating against girls. When one group is favoured another is always penalised and surely this to the detriment of both individuals and the nation as a whole.

My time at the OU was so very rewarding and I have frequently thanked Harold Wilson and Jennie Lee. Without their insight how much poorer I would be, and I do not mean in economic terms, because gaining my BSc Hons. restored my faith in myself and has proved I did have the ability despite the label of academic inferiority.

Perhaps there are ways to "help the lads" as my grandsons already show. In their case both my daughters introduced their sons to books from babyhood.

They read to them daily and consequently the younger boy, aged 5, according to his teacher, has verbal skills beyond those of hie peer group. On entry to his new school the older boy, aged 10, showed a reading age of 14 years 9 months and a spelling age of 12 years 4 months.

I am not saying reading from an early age is the whole answer to the prevention of boys lagging behind girls and more answers will need to be found.

Some boys may require a different approach; one which will engage their particular interest in order to maintain their concentration level. But whatever route is taken to ` help the lads catch up' it is important to find a solution that is fair to both sexes.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Supply Teachers Needed in Bungay

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers neede...

Year 6 Teacher

£111 - £163 per day + £111 - £163 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The posi...

Experienced Creche Assistant - Lambeth - September 2014

£64 - £69 per day + Competitive London rates of pay : Randstad Education Group...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices