Northern Ireland

Taking Boys Seriously conference aims to address underachievement

Taking Boys Seriously aims to engage with young men, schools and youth groups
Taking Boys Seriously aims to engage with young men, schools and youth groups

THE innovative work of schools and youth groups to raise boys' aspirations will be the focus of a conference today.

Taking Boys Seriously is organised by Ulster University, The Controlled Schools' Support Council and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.

UU is leading research to proactively engage with young men, schools and youth groups to increase attainment and levels of higher education participation.

The event will showcase the proactive and imaginative approaches being developed in St Joseph's Boys School towards raising aspirations and achievements in Derry city.

Work being undertaken by Markethill High School and Abbey Community College through its partnership with Monkstown Boxing Club will also be analysed.

Professor Brian Murphy, Director of Widening Access at UU, said the correlation between educational attainment and social mobility was well known.

"Our research seeks to break decades of leaving many boys and young men behind," he said.

"This may mean change in policy; but it is most likely to involve changes in pedagogy and practice - a real opportunity to better understand how choice of instructional method and social aspects of learning may improve outcomes for those who are most able but least likely."

CSSC Chief Executive Barry Mulholland said research had shown that while 61 per cent of controlled school pupils achieved five or more GCSEs at A* to C, it added to a growing body of evidence that male pupils entitled to free schools meals were underachieving.

"It's clearly evident there are innovative approaches in the controlled sector that focus on raising attainment; this conference provides an opportunity to showcase best practice," he said.

CCMS Chief Executive Gerry Campbell there remained a significant gender gap between the attainment of boys and girls.

"CCMS remains committed to supporting our schools in raising standards for all pupils, particularly boys and pupils entitled to free school meals and in ensuring they develop the wider skills and capabilities necessary for life and work," he said.