What is the research evidence on writing? Education Standards Research Team, Department for Education
© Department for Education November 2012
What do we know about the gender gap in writing?
Evidence suggests that boys perform less well than girls in writing. Research
evidence has identified a range of factors behind their underperformance (Daly, 2003; Estyn, 2008; DfES, 2007). These include:
x Factors related to the quality of teaching such as teaching grammar
separately from contextualised writing, inappropriate use of interventions,
misuse of writing frames and a lack of connection between oral and writing
x School-level factors such as not offering children an active and free-play
environment which has been associated with more progress in reading and
x Classroom-level factors such as ineffective use of ICT, setting and streaming.
x Behavioural and social-level factors.
x Factors related to the way lessons are conducted such as too much emphasis on story writing, not giving boys ownership of their writing, a discrepancy between boys’ reading preferences and writing topics, using ‘counting down’ time strategies and a dislike by boys of drafting and figurative language.
The following strategies for raising boys’ performance have been identified (Daly, 2003; Ofsted, 2005b):
x School and classroom level approaches such as using active learning tasks;
appropriate approaches to discipline; target setting, monitoring and
mentoring; using older pupils as male role models; focusing on the learning
nature of schools.
x Effective teaching from teachers who have confidence in their abilities and
have high expectations from boys.
x A focus on key approaches inherent in the teaching of writing such as explicit teaching of language; topic selection in narrative writing; planning writing using mnemonics; effective use of drafting and writing frames.
x Literacy-specific activities such as appropriate use of oral work; poetry; use of emotionally powerful texts.
x Effective use of visual media and ICT facilities