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Boys’ and Young Men’s Education Toolkit

Through our conversations with educators, it has become clear that the lack of policy focus on tackling the growing educational attainment gap between boys and girls, is mirrored by a severe dearth of practical resources for teachers who are concerned about the under-performance of boys. What is out there, is scattered and inconsistent.

We decided that it would at least be useful to create a single place with a range of options for educators to explore and draw upon.

The result is the Boys’ and Young Men’s Education Toolkit. The contents of the toolkit below are drawn from recommendations by leading practitioners, authors and advocates who focus on boys’ and young men’s education in the broadest sense — academic, personal and emotional.

This resource is by no means exhaustive and represents a range of views and approaches to addressing the “boy problem” in schools. These include those that may contradict each other — for example, some practitioners recommend distinctive teaching strategies for boys, while others simply advocate for children to be able to be the best version of themselves, with no restrictions imposed by teachers’ or parents’ perceptions and expectations. We hope the toolkit offers a range of approaches that may be useful in a variety of educational contexts.

The below is a live document open to updates and additions as we gather information and expand our network.

It includes:

  1. Academic teaching resources
  2. PSHE and pastoral teaching resources
  3. Consultants, practitioners, speakers — academic
  4. Consultants, practitioners, speakers — mentoring and personal development
  5. Bibliography of key literature

All entries are listed in alphabetical order.

For information on the Men and Boys Coalition’s recommendations for policy action on boys’ and young men’s education, please see our briefing paper below.


1. Academic teaching resources

The Literacy Trust

Boys’ lack of engagement with reading and their lower literacy rates is one of the key drivers of lower attainment across subject areas and lack of engagement in school in general.

The Literacy Trust has produced extensive research and resources exploring the issues connected to these issues, available on their website.

https://literacytrust.org.uk/search/?query=boys

TES — improving boys’ engagement in secondary schools

A downloadable Power Point deck with a range of practical advice and strategies for raising boys’ classroom engagement across subject areas.

International Boys’ Schools Coalition

“The IBSC connects dedicated educators worldwide to discover the best learning practices for boys. Members join a coalition of professionals who are committed to advancing schools and the learning experience for boys.”

The IBSC Exploring Boys’ Education Podcast series

https://www.theibsc.org/teaching-learning/podcast/archive

Colour Blind Awareness

Colour blindness affects 1 in 12 boys, compared to 1 in 200 hundred girls. Teaching resources are highly dependent on colour, despite this there is no routine screening for colour blindess in schools and few teachers are aware of the impact the condition has on students’ ability to learn.

The charity Colour Blind Awareness offers a wide range of teaching and awareness-raising resources on their website.

www.colourblindawareness.org/teachers/resources

Barry Jones — foreign languages

Barry Jones, who died in April 2015, was an innovative language teacher and a trainer of language teachers at Homerton College, Cambridge University. He had a keen interest in engaging boys in learning foreign languages, one of the subject areas in which boys’ attainment lags behind girls.

His key works have been published as a free online resource.

www.all-languages.org.uk/student/barry-jones-archive/teaching-boys/

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2. PSHE / Pastoral and wellbeing resources

Being Mankind

Being ManKind is an education project whose mission is to “inspire boys to grow to be kind and confident adults without feeling the need to conform to traditional gender stereotypes”.

The project has “developed two sets of lesson plans, KS2 (9-11 years) and KS3+ (11+ years), which can be delivered in schools (PSHE or Morning Registration), Pupil Referral Units, youth organisations and Young Offender Institutions. The KS3+ plans also include suggestions to adapt activities and discussions for older age groups e.g. prisons, support groups.”

More information on the project and how to download the lesson plans on the Being Mankind website.

www.beingmankind.org/education/educational-programme/

METRO Charity

METRO provides health, community and youth services across London and the South East for anyone experiencing issues around sexuality, gender, equality, diversity or identity.

This includes “a safe online space for young guys into guys (GiG) to chat and learn about their sexuality and wellbeing. It is funded by Public Health England as part of their HIV Prevention Innovation Fund”.

“Our chatrooms are safely facilitated by trained youth workers. We say guys into guys because we know that some boys and young men do not want to describe themselves as gay or bisexual.”

https://metrocharity.org.uk/youth/chatrooms-for-young-guys-into-guys

Body Image for Schools — lesson plans featuring ‘Naked Beach’

A series of lesson plans and accompanying videos exploring issues around body image insecurity, based on the associated Naked Beach TV series.

“Research shows Britain has some of the lowest body image scores in the world, with a third of Brits saying they are unhappy with the way they look. 91% of British women say they’re not body confident, 45% of men say they hate what they see in the mirror, and one in four children worry about their appearance.

“lack of body image satisfaction interferes with young people’s ability to engage fully with their education and is also a diagnostic criteria in common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and, of course, eating disorders.”

www.barefacedtv.com/naked-beach-educational-resource/

Chatta app for students with autism

Boys are thought to be around three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. The Chatta app assists teachers and parents working with autistic children.

“Chatta is a teaching method used in schools by teachers and teaching assistants. It’s also used by parents. Chatta involves teaching using audio-visual technology and has been designed to support progress in language, communication and literacy. Chatta links experiences and subject content with images and modelled language.”

https://chattalearning.com/

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3. Consultants, practitioners, speakers — academic

Mengage

Mengage is a collective of professional practitioners with extensive experience of work with males of all ages covering a range of health and social issues.

“The services we provide include direct work with males, accredited male health education and mentoring courses, workshops and training, resources, consultancy and research-based solutions from both national and international practice, backed by years of experience of practical health and education work with men and boys.”

www.mengage.co.uk

Future Men

Future Men (formerly known as Working with Men) is a multi-award-winning specialist charity that supports positive male involvement, engagement and activity whilst also addressing the stereotypes around masculinity and engaging in the wider conversation of what it means to be a man.

The charity does this by providing support at key transition points in young men’s lives, including working within schools, with new and expectant fathers and through community outreach and intervention.

www.futuremen.org

Matt Pinkett 

Matt Pinkett is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker on gender in schools, with a particular interest on the issues behind boys’ educational under-achievement.

He is the co-author, with Mark Roberts, of ‘Boys Don’t Try? Re-thinking masculinity in schools’

He tweets under the handle @Positivteacha

Ulster University Taking Boys Seriously project

The taking Boys Seriously research project was established in response to the long-standing issue of young men, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, under-achieving in school.

The project comprises of:

  • A comprehensive literature review of school and community-based policies which seek to address the low attainment among young males from socio-economically disadvantaged communities
  • The showcasing of existing best practice
  • A series of research projects
  • The piloting of new interventions

http://www.menandboyscoalition.org.uk/members_organisations/ulster-university-taking-boys-seriously/

Contacts:

Professor Brian Murphy (Access, Digital and Distributed Learning) b.murphy1@ulster.ac.uk

Susan Morgan (School of Applied Social and Policy Studies) sm.morgan@ulster.ac.uk

Dr Erik Cownie (School of Applied Social and Policy Studies) e.cownie@ulster.ac.uk

Gary Wilson

Gary Wilson is one of the country’s leading experts on raising boys’ achievement.

“He is a freelance education consultant, speaker, trainer, author and former teacher of twenty-seven years. Gary has advised and delivered training in over a thousand schools and over thirty LAs across the UK.”

https://www.garywilsonraisingboysachievement.com/

He is the author of several books offering practical advice for parents and teachers on best-practice approaches for working with boys. More information on his books below.

https://www.garywilsonraisingboysachievement.com/publications

David Wright

David Wright is an international speaker, broadcaster and commentator on Early Years education and the co-author of Men in Early Years Settings: Building a mixed gender workforce.

David is one of the UK’s leading advocates for men in early years, he has advised the Department for Education on the issue and he is the national representative for England to the World Forum on Early Childhood Education.

Crucially, David is an early years teacher himself — he is a co-owner, along with his wife and son, of Paint Pots Nurseries, a family childcare group based in Southampton comprising 10 settings caring for nearly 1,000 children each week.

http://www.menandboyscoalition.org.uk/members/david-wright/

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4. Consultants, practitioners, speakers — mentoring and personal development

A Band of Brothers

“Abandofbrothers (ABOB) work with young men involved in the criminal justice system, providing them with the support they need to make the transition to an adulthood free of crime, and full of connection, purpose and meaning.

We do this through our Quest Programme which brings young men and adult role models together in an intensive contemporary rites-of-passage experience and an accredited mentoring programme.”

www.abandofbrothers.org.uk

Lads Need Dads

“Lads Need Dads CIC is an award winning Not-For-Profit Community Interest Company, set up to prevent potential problems and address existing ones where boys are missing a father-figure in their lives.”

The charity does this by providing:

  • A male-led group Mentoring Programme
  • Bush-craft survival training and outdoor activities 
  • On-going support and life-skills training
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Leadership and Peer mentoring

https://ladsneeddads.org/

The Man Den

The Man Den use board games to provide a unique inter-generational mentoring project for boys and men in East london

“Our aim is to encourage inter-generational mentoring which provides positive male role models for the younger men, provides networking and volunteering opportunities for men 18-50 and reduces social isolation for men aged 50+.

“We also aim to provide a safe and nurturing environment to the young boys many of whom attend as they have no father figures in their lives. We established this project in light of some of the concerns over why youth violence is rising, issues such as no youth centres, and no positive role models came up and our aim is to eradicate these two issues, with this part of the project, whilst developing other solutions.”

https://themandenuk.com/

Natasha Devon MBE

Natasha Devon MBE is a writer and activist. She tours schools and colleges throughout the UK, delivering talks as well as conducting research on mental health, body image, gender and social equality.

http://www.menandboyscoalition.org.uk/members/natasha-devon-mbe/

Student Minds men’s mental health project

Student Minds are working on a three-year project on men’s mental health at university with Leeds University Union, the University of Manchester and the University of Huddersfield.

”We will be working with students to co-produce and pilot mental health interventions at each of the three institutions. The interventions will be run for, with and by male students. We’ll pilot the initiatives over the three years, providing the students with research, training, support and resources to deliver the interventions and capture as much learning as possible. At the end of the three years we’ll be sharing all of our learning and findings across the Higher Education and Health & Social Care sectors.”

https://www.studentminds.org.uk/mensmentalhealth.html#

RockingUrTeens

RockingUrTeens is a social enterprise dedicated to building young people’s self confidence, raising their aspirations and equipping them with the skills they need to become future leaders.

Their mission is to:

• Develop entrepreneurial spirit, agility & flexibility, character, self esteem and good mental health
• Connect young people to industries, such as: Arts & Media, Science, Technology and Business
• Equip young people to enjoy their teenage years, leading them to future career success

RockingUrTeens does this through running teen conferences with inspirational speakers aimed at 13-­14 years olds in Year 8 & 9 of School.

The organisation runs an annual Boys’ Conference to mark International Men’s Day and an annual Girls’ Conference to mark International Women’s Day.

http://rockingurteens.com/

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5. Bibliography

Books primarily for teachers by teachers/consultants/psychologists with direct practical advice (in alphabetical order by author)

Hairdresser or Footballer: Bridging the gender gap in schools. Anderton and McGill. 2018 UK

Supporting Boys’ Writing in the Early Years. Cigman. 2018 UK

Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers Into Successful Learners. Cleveland. 2009 USA

Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies that Work. Reichert & Hawley. 2010 USA

Teaching the Male Brain: How Boys Think, Feel, and Learn in School. James. 2015 USA

Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools. Matt Pinkett & Mark Roberts. 2019 UK  

Boys will be Brilliant. Talent & Wilson. 2016 UK

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Raising Boys’ Achievement (100 Ideas for Teachers). Wilson. 2015 UK

Pocket PAL: Raising Boys’ Achievement. Wilson. 2014 UK

Breaking Through Barriers to Boys’ Achievement: Developing a Caring Masculinity. Wilson. 2013. UK

Help Your Boys Succeed: The Essential Guide for Parents (Help Your Child to Succeed). Wilson. UK

Books primarily for teachers (& parents) with direct practical advice (in alphabetical order by author)

Raising Boys in the 21st Century: Completely Updated and Revised. Biddulph. 2018 UK/Tasmania

Cracking the Boy Code: How to Understand and Talk with Boys. Cox. 2018 Canada

Helping Boys Learn – Parent Edition: 6 Secrets for your son’s success in school. Dixon. 2013 USA

The One Rule For Boys: How Empathy And Emotional Understanding Will Improve Just About Everything For Your Son. Wachtel. 2014 USA

A further extensive bibliography is also listed on the International Boys’ Schools Coalition website:

https://www.theibsc.org/teaching-learning/books-on-educating-boys

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