01/09/2010 15:56 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Female Teachers Are Letting Down Boys In The Classroom, Says Survey

Sexism is alive and kicking in the classroom, says a new report.

A study carried out at Kent University suggests that primary school teachers, 90 per cent of whom are female, are unwittingly holding boys back by reinforcing gender stereotypes in the classroom.

Boys are expected to conform to a more 'feminine' style of play instead of being taught how to play the games they prefer responsibly, it says.

According to the report, which questioned 238 children, boys are far more likely to be perceived as 'silly' in class, and are more likely to be reprimanded for refusing to 'sit nicely like girls'. They are also seen as more prone to indulge in 'schoolboy pranks'.

The report suggests that the attitudes of female teachers may be perpetuating low expectations of boys' academic achievements, unwittingly encouraging girls to work harder by letting them think they are cleverer.

The unwritten messages run deep. Girls as young as four think they are cleverer, try harder and are better behaved than boys. And by the age of seven and eight, boys also believe that their female classmates are more likely to have these qualities.

Bonny Hartley, the study's lead author said: 'By seven or eight years old, children of both genders believe that boys are less focused, able, and successful than girls, and think that adults endorse this stereotype.'

Schools should avoid dividing pupils into ability groups because the practice often results in girls dominating the higher-achieving tables, the study concluded.

Do you feel your sons are misunderstood by their teachers? Do you feel energetic is too often mistaken for badly behaved?