Want your son to get good results? Put him in a school with girls

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  • The study analysed the reading scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds
  • Schools with more than 60% girls had higher scoring students on reading tests
  • Girls had higher concentration levels and motivation to perform well
  • This may help to explain their positive influence in schools, study found

Press Association

and
Phoebe Weston For Mailonline

Having more girls in the classroom could help boost boys’ results, a study has found.

It suggests that boys’ performance in reading is significantly better in schools where the majority of pupils were female. 

This may be because female pupils have higher concentration levels and motivation to perform well – and this attitude rubs off on boys.  

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A new study suggests that boys' performance in reading is significantly better in schools where the majority of pupils were female (stock image)

A new study suggests that boys' performance in reading is significantly better in schools where the majority of pupils were female (stock image)

A new study suggests that boys’ performance in reading is significantly better in schools where the majority of pupils were female (stock image)

WHAT DID THEY FIND?

The study analysed the reading scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds in mixed-sex schools around the world who took part in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.

Researchers found that schools with more than 60 per cent girls, a large proportion of students with highly educated parents and a large proportion of college-educated teachers had higher scoring students on the reading test.

Characteristics more commonly associated with female pupils were higher concentration levels and motivation to perform well.

This may help to explain their positive influence in schools, the researchers suggest.

The study analysed the reading scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds in mixed-sex schools around the world who took part in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. 

Researchers at Radboud University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that schools with more than 60 per cent girls, a large proportion of students with highly educated parents and a large proportion of college-educated teachers had higher scoring students on the reading test.

‘Boys particularly seemed to be positively affected by a high proportion of female students in a school,’ the study says.

Characteristics more commonly associated with female pupils were higher concentration levels and motivation to perform well.

This may help to explain their positive influence in schools, the researchers suggest.

The study did note that the proportion of highly educated teachers and the socio-economic make-up of schools did not benefit boys more than girls. 

Lead author Dr Margriet van Hek, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, told the Press Association: ‘We propose that girls find it easier to concentrate in class, but also that they are more motivated to read.

‘Studies have shown that girls like reading more, are better readers and read more often in their spare time. 

‘Also, reading is considered a feminine activity, this makes girls more motivated and frequent readers’, she said. 

Researchers found this makes that in schools with more girls, both girls and boys are surrounded by students that lift up their reading performance. 

The study analysed the reading scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds in mixed-sex schools around the world who took part in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests (stock image)

The study analysed the reading scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds in mixed-sex schools around the world who took part in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests (stock image)

The study analysed the reading scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds in mixed-sex schools around the world who took part in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests (stock image)

‘In short, girls make for a more stimulating learning environment’, she said. 

Instead of focusing on ‘success’ at school, we should be teaching them how to be better at being social, navigate relationships and be good citizens in a community, researchers in July found.

‘We’re training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts,’ Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, and author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.

‘And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that.’

This way of thinking challenges our definition of what success in school, and out of school, means, they say.

Instead, we should focus on the ‘six Cs’ of parenting, says Professor Hirsh-Pasek and her co-author Roberta Golinkoff from the University of Delaware.

This is collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence – listed in order of importance.