The Lost Boys – How Boys are Falling Behind in their Early Years

It is a message we are now accustomed to hearing, the attainment of boys is lower than that of their female peers. Save the Children’s The Lost Boys Report highlights that  the gender gap, for five year olds, has hardly shifted in the last decade.

Evidence shows that when children start school and are behind age related expectations, they often remain this way. The negative consequences of this are far reaching, they continue through primary and secondary school and into adult life.

In the study, The gender gap in language and literacy development, researchers from Bristol University found that “children who did not achieve the expected standard of early language and communication at  five were over four times more likely to have below Level 4 Reading at 11 than five-year- olds who did meet the standard.”

The benefits of effective communication are undeniable. When we can verbally communicate with clarity and coherence, we can change and shape our world. We can express wishes, desires, thoughts and fascinations. We can be teachers, leaders and directors. We accept, as practitioners, that early language is not the only determining factor in a child’s learning and progression . However the University of Bristol’s analysis concluded that it was the most important one!

So what does this mean for us?

To encourage any child to communicate we must consider their interests and fascinations, this is of paramount importance when we are supporting boys in communication.  

The foundations of the chatta Talk for Boys approach are rooted in interest and fascinations. Planned by experienced early years teachers, the activities encourage and enable participation in a meaningful way. These experiences are then captured through photographs which are later used in the Chatta app for oral reflection and rehearsal.  

As an early years teacher, I find that the boys I teach are intrinsically motivated by technology. Specifically, devices such as iPads and tablets. Technology is undoubtedly a hook.  When used appropriately to encourage and support communication it is an invaluable tool. The Chatta Talk for Boys approach exploits this intrinsic motivation. Boys enjoy the visual and participatory elements of the approach, it is a fun way to reflect. More importantly the approach and the careful design of the chatta  app turn technology into a communicative tool, rather than a silencer.     

If we want to narrow the gap we have to differentiate for boys and girls, we have to accept that there are genetic differences which impact on the way boys interact with their environment.  We have to research and we have to plan carefully. This proven approach is effective on many levels. Recent feedback from a parent of a boy experiencing some if the Talk for Boys activities highlighted the impact of the powerful new chatta approach.

“All I can say is WOW !You have created something amazing. It’s so simple yet the results are instant! I can’t get my head around why nobody else has come up with this method of teaching.”
Laura Stenton-Bentley, Parent,Sheffield

The chatta approach is changing and enriching the lives of boys. For more information about joining chatta contact

By Anna Knowles.