Are the boys in your school, your class or in the groups that come to you for support achieving less well than you think they should? Teach to Inspire Boys offers practical advice on how to inspire your male pupils at school

Written by Chris Ford

Expecting (and subsequently accepting) poor handwriting, trouble at playtime or an un-swerving enthusiasm for football books at the expense of fiction material because “he’s a boy” undermines our assessment and understanding of the child, weakens the quality of targets we set and, in turn, will lead to the provision of inappropriate learning experiences.

Teach to Inspire Boys provides practical guidance on how to excite and engage the boys in your school, helping you fight the growing trend of underachievement.

You will be offered guidance of two kinds:

Sections headed ‘Try this…’

  • Offer practical tasks for individual teachers and whole staff teams to help you analyse the current provision for boys in your school
  • Guide you in developing work to inspire boys
  • Include pupil questionnaires
  • Include a sample of each task to exemplify the work in hand, though there is also the option to print the worksheets from duplicates in the appendix or from the CD which is included in the book.

Sections headed ‘For example…’ offer practical ideas to try with either colleagues or the boys themselves. These ideas should be used as a starting point for your own thinking. The strategies suggested in this book do not constitute an exhaustive list and you are invited to bring your own creativity, energy, sensitivity and sense of fun to the process.

Additionally you are invited to ‘picture this…’ from time to time. These are short real-life scenarios drawn from the author’s experience which illustrate the dilemmas that we sometimes face when trying to inspire our boys.

The book is relevant to primary settings, including Early Years and Foundation Stage, and to the first years of secondary school that precede examination courses of study.

The achievement of boys, or rather the under-achievement of boys, is of concern to parents, teachers, educators, broadcasters and politicians alike. The trouble with boys seems to be that they exhibit behaviours ranging from being generally boisterous to being utterly disruptive in a way that negates their own learning and that of others. The trouble for boys is that they can encounter low academic achievement at school, leading to subsequent poor life-prospects and unemployment, ill health, low self-esteem, self-harm, abuse and involvement in crime.

While the problems are, in some cases, embedded in aspects of living beyond the school, it is important that we are not overwhelmed by them. As educators we need to understand them, work with them and sometimes challenge them. Our principle focus, however, is on what we can actually do, both in school and in conjunction with parents and the wider community.

This book is about working with those pupils who exhibit a range of attributes most commonly associated with boys. The work outlined will not be appropriate for every boy and will sometimes include girls. The book is grounded in the day-to-day hurly-burly of real school situations, including some ways in which a school can interact with its community.

It is not a question of boys’ inability to succeed but, according to the DfES (2007), their difficulty to succeed in school settings that is the problem. Whatever degree of influence we may or may not have on influences from outside the school, we do maintain a supreme level of control in creating a school setting that is sensitive to the needs of boys. We need to do this with finesse. Our work will sometimes be active and fun, sometimes celebratory and will often be subtle. It will form a part of the overall educational experience we offer all pupils and, because it is based on the principles of structuring personalised learning through differentiated provision, it will not compromise the work of those girls (and some boys) who do not share those behaviour and learning traits which are common to the many boys who are the subject of this book.

Teach to Inspire Boys focuses on what we can do in school and offers practical advice on ways of inspiring boys to become … inspiring boys! We expect boys to not only be inspired themselves, but to play their part in leading the school community by inspiring others. In short, we expect boys to be among your shining stars; to stand alongside girls in equal measure and to be ambassadors for their classes.

Part One comprises three short chapters to set the scene.

These will consider:

  • The attributes of many boys, what we expect of them in school and how this sits with approaches to personalised learning
  • A brief look at some research that will make sense of what you encounter in your school day-to-day and which will reinforce the approaches outlined in this book
  • Some recommendations for additional reading including reports and guidelines by HMI, the DCSF, OFSTED and others. Much of the material recommended is readily available for immediate download from websites.

Part Two will outline practical solutions to supporting boys’ achievement. Strategies will be grouped according to the four arenas encountered by boys on any typical school day. Specifically, we will support boys:

  • in the school overall
  • in the classroom
  • through individual attention, and
  • in the community, including the home.

Part Three will offer a structure for developing this work in schools. You will find, both in the back of the book and on CD, checklists to help you raise these issues and stimulate discussion in staff meetings and to engage teachers, learning mentors, learning support assistants, lunchtime supervisors, governors, parents and others in your work to raise boys’ achievement.

The advice will be comprehensive but not exhaustive. That’s because a central part of getting things right for the boys is the exact matching of your school setting with the needs of your boys. You must, from the start, select those approaches most relevant to you and add your own ideas to those outlined in this book. Use this book as a stimulus for discussion.

About the author
The approaches in this exciting book are based on the author’s experience as a teacher, headteacher and on working with primary and secondary schools during a DfES-funded project to raise boys’ achievement. The rationale which underpins this practical work is based on research, reports and publications by her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) the DCSF, OFSTED, university research departments and authors.

ISBN: 978-1-906517-17-5

Teach to Inspire
Teach to Inspire is a series of publications that aims to equip adults with the tools they need to teach young people how to live a life of emotional stability and resilience.

The titles are radical, edgy and brilliant, bringing progressive practical solutions based on strong theoretical underpinning to the professional audience.