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Confident, capable and creative: supporting boys’ achievements

Guidance for practitioners in the Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) states that “All children, irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties or disabilities, gender or ability should have the opportunity to experience a challenging and enjoyable programme of learning and development.” (EYFS Statutory Guidance)

This booklet provides guidance for all practitioners to ensure that this entitlement is met for boys as well as girls during their time in the EYFS. Using the four principles of the EYFS as a framework, it provides examples of effective practice and encourages practitioners to reflect on the quality of their provision, ask questions and find solutions. We have drawn on the experience and expertise of early years practitioners who are currently actively engaged in researchful practice to explore what works best for boys.

Why focus on boys?

The Foundation Stage Profile provides a holistic, broad-based assessment of children’s progress across six areas of learning and development. National data from the Profile, 2004–2006, suggests that boys are achieving less well than girls across all areas of learning and that more girls are working securely within the early learning goals than boys.

These early gender differences in achievement reflect a pattern that can continue into Key Stage 4. An analysis of GCSE results indicates that white British boys comprise nearly half of all low achievers, with boys generally outnumbering girls by 20% (Rowntree Report, 2007).

An Ofsted survey of 144 Foundation Stage settings published in March 2007 provides further interesting insights, suggesting that practitioners could address this imbalance if they took more responsibility for creating the right conditions for boys’ learning. The survey recommends that ‘staff in settings should... help boys to achieve more rapidly by providing opportunities for learning that engage them.’