Boys culprits of avoiding writing basics and using spellcheckers instead

The study says boys are unenthusiastic about picking up a pen and paper. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Boys are about half as likely to enjoy writing as girls, with many saying that they find it embarrassing, according to new research.

A study has found that boys are unenthusiastic about picking up a pen and paper and are unlikely to do so outside of a classroom.

It says that many young boys do not see the point of writing - especially in the age of spell checkers - with few saying that the activity is "cool".

The study, published by the National Literacy Trust, found that just over a fifth (20.9 per cent) of boys say they do not enjoy writing at all, compared with just 8.6 per cent of girls.

Nearly a third of boys (30.2 per cent) admitted that they never, or rarely, write outside of lessons, while 17.3 per cent of their female peers said the same.

Almost one in five boys (19.5 per cent) said they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them writing, while just over one in four (26.8 per cent) agreed that "writing is cool".

In comparison, just one in eight girls (12.7 per cent) said that they would be embarrassed if they were caught writing and more than a third (35.2 per cent) said it was "cool".

Three in 10 boys (30.6 per cent) also said that there was no point in learning spelling and grammar if you can use a spell checker, compared with a fifth (21.7 per cent) of girls.

But boys' attitudes to writing may affect their performance in the subject.

The Trust's survey, which is based on the views of 35,000 eight to 16-year-olds, found that there was a link between how much a child enjoyed writing and their school results.

Of those who do not like writing, more than half were writing below the level expected of them, it found. Just 7 per cent were writing at a level above what would be expected of their age group.

The study also found that children from white backgrounds were the most disengaged with writing, with just 42.1 per cent saying they enjoy it and 26 per cent writing daily - less than any other ethnic group.

Youngsters from black and Asian backgrounds enjoyed writing the most, the study found, and were also likely to write more frequently and rate themselves as the best writers.

Technology is also invading the way in which children write, the findings suggest, with about one in six (14.8 per cent) of those questioned saying that they write in "txt" speak in class.

Official figures published in September showed that girls are still outperforming boys in writing at the age of 11.

National curriculum tests - or Sats - results showed that 88% of girls achieved at least a level 4 in the subject - the level expected of the age group - compared with 78 per cent of boys.