Lockdown sees children’s reading gender gap grow

Research published by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and Puffin has found that the difference between girls’ and boy’s reading levels has widened during lockdown.

The research is based on assessments of the reading levels of eight to 18-year-olds before and during lockdown.

The key finding is that the gap has widened by five-fold with girls having moved from two percentage points ahead at the start of the year to 11.5 percentage points during lockdown.

Meanwhile, more than 60 per cent of girls said they enjoyed reading during lockdown, compared with just 48.7 per cent of boys.

The report concluded that: “It remains to be seen whether these changes are sustained or whether a return to school and a degree of known normality will help boys catch up.”

Hazel Pulley, Chief Executive Officer at Excelsior MAT, said: “This is a concerning trend that the researchers have identified and it is important that schools and teachers take note of the findings.

“As things start to return to normal, it is important that particular attention is given to any areas where certain groups of children have fallen behind their peers.”

The research was based on a survey of more than 58,000 children from January to March 2020 and more than 4,000 children between May and June 2020.