For different reasons, the discourse of new managerialism and a feminist discourse on educational underachievement have converged on ‘failing boys’ as an object of concern within the literacy curriculum. The terms of the discourse help set the boundaries to the problem, and what will be explored within that remit. Attention largely falls either on what ‘failing boys’ themselves lack by way of particular skills or attributes, or alternatively what the school curriculum itself lacks in terms of its capacity to address such a group. The hunt is on for whatever is deemed missing.