November 25

Educational comment from Senior Leadership Team - Mrs Elliott

Much has been published in recent years, about the differences in the optimal learning styles between girls and boys.

As Head of Sixth Form this is obviously an area that I pay close attention to; wanting to instigate any pedagogies that we can practically put in place, in order to optimise the learning potential of our students. So it was with great interest that I read Mike Younger’s recently published report “Effective Pedagogies for Girls' Learning”. Mike Younger is a former Dean of Education at Cambridge and has conducted numerous studies looking at gender issues in education.

Using evidence from a recent OECD report (2015), Younger states that gender disparities in performance do not stem from innate differences in aptitude, but rather from their attitude to learning and the confidence they have in their own abilities. In fact, confidence appears to be one of the strongest factors affecting this disparity. Of equal importance was the need for girls to develop into resilient learners and accept challenges when they appear in a learning context.

The report was actually a reassuring read for me, as these are exactly the skills and qualities that we aim to develop in all of our students, by consciously selecting the following strategies and opportunities for practise, both in and out of the classroom:

  • Creating lessons that have a clear direction, visible structure and helpful prompts
  • Teachers who will challenge and demand more in order to draw out explanations
  • Fostering independent learning, within a safe but also challenging environment
  • Create stable and enabling environments, allowing the girls to become more assertive and robust in their approach

These strategies will, of course, continue to be honed and developed, so that we become even better at enabling our students to achieve their best academically, as well as developing the confidence and poise they need in order to hold their own and to deal with whatever challenges life puts in front of them.

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