Trial on educational achievement of boys

The educational achievement of boys in Northern Ireland has been made the focus of a new trial led by Ulster University.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 10:17 pm
Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The Taking Boys Seriously programme aims to address the concerns of students and give them a voice.

Professor Brian Murphy, director of academic business development and responsible for widening participation at the university, said boys and young men are “seriously falling behind at every level of the education system”.

“At Ulster University the participation rate for young men is now at 40% of our student population. Are we really taking boys’ education seriously with stats such as this?” he said.

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“The problem starts early: the boy left behind becomes the young man excluded from a progressive and selective system.

“This is a social problem of compounded disadvantage.

“That’s why our research looks – for the first time in the sector – at formal and informal education through the prism of boys as relational learners.

“These are principles based on the voice of boys and their teachers of what works.

“We look forward, as an outcome of the Taking Boys Seriously conference, to setting up a series of case studies that trial more widely the principles of relational learning.”

The trial was officially launched at the Ulster University Taking Boys Seriously conference to 600 delegates representing the formal and informal education sectors across Northern Ireland and who will trial the principles in their learning environments.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen was among those who attended the conference on Wednesday.

She described the subject matter as “extremely relevant in the context of the work of the expert panel on educational underachievement and its recently published report A Fair Start”.

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