Girls generally perform better than boys at GCSE and at GCE A level (or equivalent) in the UK. In 2004/05, 62 per cent of girls in their last year of compulsory education achieved five or more GCSE grades A* to C, compared with 52 per cent of boys.
The difference in achievement between the sexes starts at an early age. In England, from Key Stage 1 (five to seven years old) through to Key Stage 4 (14 to 16 years old) girls scored consistently higher than boys, although the difference was less marked in mathematics and science than in English. For Key Stage 2 (seven to 11 years old) mathematics, boys performed as well as girls in teacher assessments in 2005 and slightly better in the test component.
Over recent years there has been an increase in the proportion of both young men and young women in the UK gaining two or more GCE A levels (or equivalent). This increase has been more marked among young women. Between 1990/91 and 2004/05 the proportion of young women