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There is a general assumption (or myth depending on who you speak to) that girls behave well in school and that boys don't, that girls do well in school and boys don't, that girls suit the school system but boys don't get on with it at all. However, research on the children themselves and their opinion has thus far been patchy. A study carried our by the University of Kent has recently investigated the children's opinions on whether the girls are considered better behaved and cleverer than boys or the other way round.
Their findings suggest that girls as young as age 4 did consider that fellow girls were cleverer than boys and that they were better behaved. These attitudes were present in children of reception age as well as through the school and even the boys agreed! Both girls and boys also thought that adults thought the girls were better than the boys - which is also interesting. Research on children is always tricky but this research presented at the British Educational Research Association was planned very carefully so as not to influence outcomes.
Two Kent schools participated with around 230 children interviewed with a series of questions and statements. The children were aged between 4 and 8. Each pupil was presented with a statement that was accompanied by a picture (girl or boy) and the child had to pick which one they thought was right. The statements included things like: "This child is good in class", "This child finishes work". Direct questions were also asked.
The postgraduate researcher, Bonny Hartley from the Psychology Department at Kent, concluded that boys and girls do believe girls to be better focused in class and that they are more successful. She concluded how difficult this makes the teachers' jobs in order to try and overcome this educational gap.
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