Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the View That Gender Differences in Education Are Largely the Result of Changes in the Education System. Essay

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that gender differences in education are largely the result of changes in the education system. A notable feature of the education system in the UK is differences in achievement between boys and girls. Official statistics provide evidence of gender differences at all stages of education. On entering school, girls were able to concentrate for longer than boys; by the end of KS3, girls perform better than boys, especially in English; at GCSE, the gender gap is very prominent with girls achieving 65% 5+ A*-C compared to 55% of boys. Sociologists have put forward many explanations for these differences, many of which are a result of changes in the education system. This essay will examine to what extent such changes have resulted in gender differences in achievement. Some sociologists argue that changes in the way pupils are assessed have favoured girls and disadvantaged boys. For example, one main change in the education system that has resulted in the gender gap is the introduction of GCSEs and coursework in 1988. Stephen Gorard found that the gender gap in achievement was fairly constant from 1975 until 1988-9, when it increased sharply. This was the year in which GCSE was introduced, bringing with it coursework as a major part of nearly all subjects. Eirene Mitsos and Ken Browne are sociologists that support this view. They argue that girls are more successful in coursework because they are more conscientious and better organized than boys. For instance, girls would take more care with the way it is presented and be more likely to spend more time on their work – this as a result helped girls to benefit from the introduction of coursework in GCSE, AS and A Level. Also, as the item suggests, the New Right thinker Madsen Pirie argues that GCSE, AS and A levels emphasise preparation and modules that can be

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