New Insights into Boys Underachievement

Powerful new insights, providing explanations for patterns in boys’ underachievement, are due to be presented at the SSAT National Conference this week in Manchester.

A two year pilot project has built upon the classroom expertise of one of the country’s leading state schools – Southend High School for Boys. The teaching staff asked the common place question: “Why do some of our able boys underperform during Key Stage 4?” It is always easy to blame pupils for their lack of motivation or engagement, but what more could the school do?

Refusing to accept simplistic explanations, Robin Bevan (Headteacher) called on the services of Ian Wigston who is a leading expert in the field of diagnostic profiling.

Across three separate year groups, the Insights Discovery profiling tool revealed striking and consistent patterns in the motivational preferences of those boys most at risk of under-achievement.

“We now have clear evidence that there is a relationship between disengagement and specific identifiable psychological dispositions.

The pilot project clearly helps to explain why some boys underachieve. Our study has also provided strong indication of the approach to remedy this.

For a long time teachers have understood the importance of differentiating in their lessons according to ability and prior understanding. These new insights provide a powerful rationale to differentiate by style: incorporating, for certain students, particular types of learning activities to provide everyone with a platform for success.” Dr Robin Bevan, Headteacher

“Our focus has been on narrowing the gap. Supported by Lottery funding, it has been a pleasure to work closely with small cohorts of boys at the school. This project has been characterised by several ‘Eureka’ moments, as we observed the consistent patterns in the data. There is a significant minority of pupils who respond best in their learning to activities that are often marginalised in GCSE classes. It is no surprise that young people with this profile make up the vast majority of those at risk of underachievement. The SSAT Conference in Manchester will provide our first opportunity to explain these promising new findings to a wider educational audience.” Ian Wigston, Bright Field Consulting

 

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