GIRLS spend more time in school learning religion while boys focus more on history, geography and physical education, a new study has found.
The report on nine-year-olds shows dramatic differences in the way children are taught depending on their gender, social background and the age and character of their teacher.
Pupils in single-sex girls' schools and fee-paying private schools are afforded more "active" and engaging classes and learning while those in disadvantaged areas are more likely to be taught through traditional methods, it was found.
The study, by the Economic and Social Research Institute thinktank, shows boys and special needs children were "substantially" less engaged with their education than others in their age group.
Girls are more likely to have a positive attitude towards languages.
Girls in single-sex schools were more interested in mathematics while boys in single-sex schools were happier to learn English, Irish and mathematics compared to those in mixed sex schools.
The report also shows children attending gaelscoileanna had more positive attitudes towards Irish while children in Gaeltacht schools did not.
Dr Selina McCoy, senior research office with the ESRI and report author, said the study highlighted significant variation in the types of teaching and learning experiences primary schoolchildren have.
"While this reflects schools and teachers adapting timetabling and teaching approaches to the perceived needs of different students, the report points to the need to balance this flexibility at the school level with ensuring that all children have exposure to varied subjects and methods," she said.