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Boys education ‘the elephant in the classroom’

Media statement
For immediate release
Thursday 16 October 2008

Boys education ‘the elephant in the classroom’ - UF

UnitedFuture deputy leader Judy Turner is disappointed that the election debate has so far left out one of the most pressing issues facing the education sector – the increasing disparity between girls and boys educational achievement.

“The issue of boys educational underachievement is being treated like ‘the elephant in the classroom’, everyone knows it exists but nobody has the guts to do anything about it,” said Mrs Turner – a former primary school teacher.

“Labour has for nine years completely ignored the growing problem over boys education, while National is also worryingly silent on this issue.

“For every six girls that pass NCEA level one, only five boys pass. Boys also make up close to three-quarters of referrals for literacy help, speech and language therapy, and behavioural difficulties.

“Perhaps of most concern is that men make up less than one percent of early childhood teachers and one in five primary school teachers, so it is perhaps not surprising that male students are falling behind in what is essentially now a female- dominated educational environment.

“While other political parties try to out-brag each other about getting tough on youth crime and social delinquency, the most obvious solution – raising the achievement levels of our young men – is being completely overlooked.

“UnitedFuture is committed to addressing the growing achievement gap between male and female students. We will actively encourage more men into teaching, investigate the use of single sex classrooms at coeducational schools, and ensure that all schools implement an integrated character education programme.

“I find it hard to explain the apathy of both major parties towards this issue – our boys are failing and yet they sit on their hands and do nothing – UnitedFuture will not let that happen,” said Mrs Turner.


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