Centre for Vocational Education Research LSE RSS Email Facebook Twitter


CEE/Education and skills discussion paper
Gender and Student Achievement in English Schools
Stephen Machin and Sandra McNally
February 2006
Paper No' CEEDP0058:
Full Paper (pdf)

Tags: gender; educational achievement

The widening gap between the average educational achievement of boys and girls has been the subject of much discussion. This gap is especially controversial for students taking national exams at the end of their compulsory education. However, the gender gap is also apparent at earlier and at later stages of education. In this paper, we analyse changes over time in the gender achievement gap at the different stages of compulsory education. We first use a combination of data sources to paint a picture of how gender gaps have evolved over time and in what context they are most marked. Then we consider possible explanations for the observed gender gaps. We look at the relevance of school inputs, teaching practice and the examination system for explaining the gender gap. We also discuss the potential influence of wider social and economic changes as reflected, for example, in the much higher education of mothers relative to those of previous generations. Analysis of this issue is important in the context of research on the gender wage gap. However, it is also raises policy-relevant issues in relation to whether changes in the school system can effect a change in the gender gap in educational achievement.

This paper has been published as:
Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 21, 357-372 (2005)