Between 1980 and 2001 the number of boys not liking school has increased by 71% [US research].

In a National Literacy Trust survey, 76% of UK schools said boys in their school did not do as well in reading as girls.

The Boys Reading Commission Report is a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Literacy Group Commission.

The Commission’s Recommendations

  1. Schools should have access to an evidence framework to inform effective practice in supporting boys’ reading.
  2. Every child should be supported by their school in developing as a reader. Crucially, schools must promote reading for enjoyment and involve parents (overtly fathers) in their reading strategies.
  3. Every teacher should have an up-to-date knowledge of reading materials that will appeal to disengaged boys.
  4. Parents need access to information on how successful schools are in supporting boys’ literacy.
  5. Libraries should target children (particularly boys) who are least likely to be supported in their reading at home.
  6. Social marketing and behavioural insight need to be deployed to encourage parents to support the literacy of their children – especially boys.
  7. Every boy should have weekly support from a male reading role model.
  8. Parenting initiatives must specifically support literacy and fathers.
  9. A cross-Government approach to literacy needs to be developed and

However, there is some evidence that teachers award higher marks to pupils from their own gender. With women making up 85-90% of teachers in primary schools, this could be significant for boys’ achievement.

Giving evidence to the Commission, writer and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen argued that the current curriculum encourages closed questioning about texts, which displays a lack of interest in what the child really thinks about a piece of writing. This, he felt, is particularly off-putting for boys who, according to stereotype, are less keen than girls to please the teacher by answering correctly, and so switch off from the process.

This document is the Government guidance to Headteachers on the law as it relates to dealing with parents. It is still current even though the Government has reportedly been revising it since 2008. DfEE Parents and Parental Responsibility 0092-2000


Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines “parent” to include:
•  all natural parents, whether they are married or not; and
•  any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person; and
•  any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person.

By way of clarification on what can often become confused…

The DfE have confirmed that this definition includes parents who do not have parental responsibility.


On the issue of proof that somebody is a parent, the DfE have confirmed that there is no statutory obligation for a non-resident father to prove to a school that he is a natural parent.

Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 1437)

The NAHT Pupil and Parent Matters document may also be of help.

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