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Boys overtake girls in maths by age seven, study of 1.5 million primary school tests finds

Posted on: 2018-11-21 11:30:00

In Reception and Year One, girls are slightly better on average than their male peers at maths
In Reception and Year One, girls are slightly better on average than their male peers at maths

In Reception and Year One, girls are slightly better on average than their male peers at maths. However, between the ages of six and seven, boys forge ahead and remain in the lead until the end of primary school. 

Boys outperform girls in numbers and measures while girls do better in operations and geometry, the data shows.

A new report, published by the data analytics company School Dash and the the assessment provider Hodder Education, analyses the test results from over 2,000 primary schools in England over three years.

Researchers anonymously aggregated data from 200,000 pupils taking the Progress in Understanding Mathematics Assessment (Puma), an online test which teachers can ask their pupils to take each term in order to monitor their progress.

This is the first time that data from the Puma tests, as well as the Progress in Reading Assessment (PiRA) have been analysed on such a large scale.

Girls are on average stronger at reading than boys at the start of primary school, and maintain this lead up to age 11, the data shows. 

Dr Timmo Hannay, the author of the report, said that the point at which boy overtake girls at maths, which occurs somewhere between ages six and seven, is “intriguing”, adding: “Understanding why and how it happens would be incredibly interesting."

Professor Valsa Koshy, an expert in primary school maths education at Brunel University, said the reason why boys forge ahead at maths from a young age is down to confidence.

“What I have found is that girls are more careful, they take less risks, they don’t jump in,” she said.

“At the start of primary school they don’t have to impress anyone, they are not being marked right or wrong. Girls do not want to take the risk of getting things wrong.”


By Camilla Turner, Education Editor
Source: The Telegraph

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