Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boys miss out on uni with 'wrong choice'

The head of the WA Curriculum Council has warned that boys are missing out on opportunities to go to university because they are not taking courses which will make them eligible.

Latest Curriculum Council figures show more boys than girls avoid the rigours of Year 12 exams, with 46 per cent of boys enrolled to sit at least four WA Certificate of Education exams this year, compared with 54 per cent of girls.

Scores from a student's best four subjects are used to calculate a university admission rank.

"On the assumption that there should be an equal distribution of boys and girls because there roughly is in the population, then boys are not being provided the same opportunities," Curriculum Council chief executive David Wood said.

Two years ago, Mr Wood said he was concerned more boys were not taking the rigours of the Tertiary Entrance Exams, but he believed the introduction of compulsory exams by this year could narrow the gender gap. However, the gender split has now changed since 2008.

"This remains an important issue for schools to monitor to ensure that boys are not being disadvantaged," Mr Wood said. "I am hopeful that increasing familiarity with the opportunities offered by the new courses means that the situation will change in future."

Education Minister Liz Constable said schools should ensure boys were not disadvantaged.

"It is important that students are encouraged to participate in challenging courses which will result in students, regardless of gender, getting the best education we can give them," she said.

"The range of WACE courses, endorsed programs, and vocational education and training options offers an ever-increasing range of attractive and relevant options, many of which do not involve external examinations and some of these non-exam options have proved particularly attractive to boys."

WA Secondary School Executives Assocation preseident Rob Nairn said schools gave boys and girls the same opportunities.

"It's what they choose to do with these opportunities," he said. "You can't actually force students to go into a particular course - it's all about choice."

Written by Bethany Hiatt - Education Editor. Published in The West Australian on 22nd Oct 2010.