Why Are Girls Continuing To Outperform Boys At School?

Why Are Girls Continuing To Outperform Boys At School?

For a number of centuries, boys were top of the class and performed better at school. However, according to recent studies, this is no longer the case

Thinking Inside the Box: Making The Most Out Of Your Box Room
Winter 2023: Cosy Holiday Ideas for the Season Ahead
7 Pieces Of Tech That Enhance Fleet Operations

For a number of centuries, boys were top of the class and performed better at school. However, according to recent studies, this is no longer the case.

In 2015, education website SchoolDash undertook an analysis of results and said that all-girls schools slightly outperformed those for boys. It revealed that 75 percent of pupils in all-girl secondary schools received five good GCSE grades compared to 55 percent of girls in mixed schools.

The research compared the results of the 378 mainstream single sex schools in England; 217 of these are all-girl schools, 161 are all-boy schools and around a third are grammar schools.

Furthermore, in 2016 some 94,000 more girls than boys applied to British universities via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). There has been extensive research into why girls are overtaking boys in the classroom. The results have produced a myriad of explanations from the temperature of the classroom to the suggestion that girls are born to be morning birds and cope better with the early start at school.

So, why are girls performing better than their male classmates and are single sex schools the answer?

Single-Sex Schools

A trend gaining momentum is the popularity of single-sex schools. When it comes to proof as to the success of these education establishments, the results speak for themselves, with the A-Level and League Tables dominated by same-sex schools.

There are a number of girls-schools in the UK that are outperforming mixed schools, including Hornsey School for Girls. Here the girls are producing excellent results and made more progress than other students nationally.

It is believed by some experts that, when girls attend single-sex schools, it means they no longer provide an ‘audience’ for the boys and instead participate more.

This is one of the most compelling reasons why girls do better in a same-sex environment. It will provide an opportunity to play to their strengths and explore career options that aren’t limited or discouraged.

Those who advocate single-sex schools also argue that single-sex education avoids gender stereotypes when it comes to subject choices. For example, girls feel more at ease undertaking traditionally male-dominated subjects such as maths and science. Boys are also more likely to take part in subjects that are perhaps seen as more ‘feminine’ such as poetry and music.

Reading Proficiency

Girls tend to have a significantly higher reading proficiency than boys. A number of studies have shown that boys enjoy reading less than girls. The impact of this stretches further into the education journey as those who don’t do well at reading may struggle with other subjects.

Time Spent On Homework

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that girls do a lot more homework than boys, which directly effects results. Boys were more likely to spend a greater amount of time in a virtual world playing computer games or using the internet rather than focusing on homework.

Additional research suggests that doing homework is linked to better performance in maths, science and reading.


Peer Pressure

Boys tend to be rowdier in class whereas girls tend to be better behaved and less negative about attending school. It can be cool not to care about your education and favouring status within their peer groups instead. The disruption in the class can lead to frequent breaks in learning to discipline those who misbehave.


Many schools require self-discipline to achieve good grades. Girls tend to write more notes, pay attention to teachers and remember the content of the lesson better than boys. When it comes to frustrating and complicated coursework, girls are more likely to persist.

Organisation is also key, with boys being driven by performance and girls working more toward goals and planning ahead to achieve these goals.

Positive Outlook

Girls are more positive perceptions about education with a study published by the Sutton Trust showing that by year nine, 65 per cent of girls thought it was ‘very important’ to go to university compared with 58 per cent of boys. Therefore, girls may read and study more to achieve their goals.

Researchers found that students who believed that university was their goal, they were more likely to carry on with academic study after completing their GCSEs.

It is apparent that different learning styles and practices have a profound effect on the education gap between boys and girls.

SchoolDash Founder Timo Hannay said in The Guardian: “It also raises the interesting question of why girls, perhaps among other groups, seem to benefit more than boys from single-sex schooling – and what, if anything, the majority of mixed schools might be able to learn from this.”