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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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New assistance for boys’ education

Special report

The Australian Government is to trial a new boys’ education initiative ‘Success for Boys’. This series of professional learning resources for teachers will be trialled in 40 schools across the country in term three this year. A cross-section of schools will be involved, including coeducational and single sex boys’ schools; schools in rural, remote and metropolitan areas; and primary, middle and secondary schools.

Townsville’s James Cook University, in conjunction with Curriculum Corporation, is developing and trialling learning resources for boys’ education in four key areas:

  • providing positive male role models and mentors to boys
  • literacy teaching and assessment
  • using information and communications technology (ICT) to engage boys in learning
  • meeting the needs of Indigenous boys.

The school-based trials are an important phase in the development of the program to be implemented in 2006 and 2007, in a total of 1,600 Australian schools. Applications for 800 grants to participate in the programme in 2006 will open shortly.


The Australian Government is committed to helping all Australian school students achieve their full potential. Research indicates that many boys are underachieving across a broad spectrum of measures of educational attainment. These measures include early literacy achievement, results in most subjects at Years 10 and 12, school retention levels and admission to higher education. Boys are also achieving less than optimal outcomes against a range of broader social indicators. Males are overrepresented among students experiencing disciplinary problems and school exclusion. Teenage boys are more likely than teenage girls to be unemployed, experience alcohol and substance abuse, or commit suicide.

It is imperative that nothing is done which undermines the important and necessary progress which has been made in the last twenty years in the education of girls; however, the evidence is overwhelming that boys are falling behind in our education system. It is unacceptable that 14-year-old boys are not performing as well in literacy tests as they were 25 years ago.

Recent research has highlighted the interaction between gender and variables such as cultural background, socioeconomic status (SES) and geographic location. Some boys may be at particular risk of disengaging from school-based learning activities. Data from the National Schools Statistics collection indicate that Indigenous boys disengage from school at an earlier age than non-Indigenous boys. Other boys who are from geographically isolated, low SES, or minority cultural backgrounds are also at higher risk of disengagement, as are boys with a disability and boys who are for other reasons at risk of not achieving their full potential.

Recent research and reports, including the Boys: Getting it Right report on the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Education and Training inquiry into the education of boys, have emphasised that targeted professional development for teachers is a critical mechanism in improving boys' engagement and learning outcomes.

The Australian Government has allocated around $27 million over the next five years to improve boys’ educational and social outcomes. This funding provides for the Boys’ Education Lighthouse project, specialised research into areas relevant to boys’ education, as well as the new Success for Boys programme. See further details on the Boys' education page of the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training.

How schools may participate in the next stage of Success for Boys

Under the second stage of Success for Boys, schools will be able to apply for grants of $10,000 to support their implementation of the programme’s resources. It is expected that up to 800 schools will be funded in the 2006 school year, and a further 800 will be funded in 2007.

Applications for the first round of Success for Boys funding are expected to open in late July/early August 2005. For further information and updates on how to apply for funding, visit Success for Boys website or email educatingboys@dest.gov.au or successforboys@curriculum.edu.au. A Success for Boys information brochure and poster may be downloaded in pdf format from the site.

The Success for Boys program will be evaluated in 2008.


This report has been sourced from Dr Brendan Nelson’s Ministerial media statement 27 June 2005 (1135/05), which includes a list of schools participating in the current trial, and from the Success for Boys website.



Subject Headings

Aboriginal students
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Educational planning
Boys' education