Boys and Girls in the Primary Classroom

Boys and Girls in the Primary Classroom

Boys and Girls in the Primary Classroom

Boys and Girls in the Primary Classroom


This book illustrates how gender equity (and inequality) occurs in primary classrooms. It uses the findings of current research to provide teachers with recommendations for promoting equity amongst boys and girls.

Each contributor summarizes recent research in the area of specialization before looking specifically at issues relevant to primary teaching and learning. The areas of the primary school covered include the National Curriculum subjects of literacy, numeracy and science, and broader topics such as working with boys, children with special educational needs, primary/secondary transition, playground cultures and children's construction of gender identities.

The book uses classroom-based research to provide accessible accounts of investigations into gender and primary schooling. At the same time, it offers a critique of the whole drive towards 'evidence based' research. Boys and Girls in the Primary Classroom is aimed particularly at primary teachers and student teachers although the research will be of interest to academics and undergraduate students.


The relationship between educational 'research' and 'practice' has gained everincreasing prominence within the world of education policy, and is the topic of heated debate and argument. This chapter charts recent developments and discusses the implications for teachers/educators and educational researchers of these struggles. The first section of the chapter charts the development of the current dominant education policy movement towards 'evidence-based practice' (EBP). EBP is then considered from the perspective of educational researchers and teachers, where it is argued that the current obsession with 'what works' runs counter to ideals of professionalism, autonomy and equality. Illustrations are provided from a recent 'systematic review' of evidence in relation to gender equal opportunities interventions and the primary school. The chapter concludes with suggestions of ways in which we, as teachers and researchers, might usefully re-frame and re-conceptualize a more fruitful relationship that enables research to inform practice.

The evidence-based practice movement

Recent years have witnessed a shift within policy discussions and educational policy making. A number of high profile criticisms were made of educational research, accusing it of being irrelevant, 'woolly', of limited scope, poor quality and of little, or no, practical relevance to teachers working in the classroom. Simultaneously, government departments and commentators called for more 'rigorous', 'systematic' research to identify 'what works' to make schools more effective and to raise attainment. As detailed by Ball (2001) and others, these key criticisms were encapsulated in a lecture and articles by Hargreaves (1996, 1997, 1999), reports by Tooley (1998; Tooley and Darby 1998) and Hillage et al. (1998) and by statements made by the then Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett (e.g. 2000).

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