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November 15, 2004
Single sex versus mixed sex schools

Co-education may be natural but that doesn't make it good, says Cynthia Hall, head of an independent girls' school in Oxfordshire.

From the BBC:

Mrs Hall is headmistress of the School of St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon and current president of the GSA, which represents 200 independent, single-sex schools in the UK.

She told its conference: "It makes me mad when I hear heads of co-ed schools dismiss single-sex education with the comment that the co-ed classroom is natural, as if being natural is all the justification one ever needed for anything.

"I believe that most girls benefit enormously from being in a single-sex environment during their school years."

A survey published by the association found that 90% more of its schools' girls chose physics or chemistry at A-level than in all schools nationally.

Mrs Hall said girls' education could suffer when they were taught alongside boys.

"In the teenage years, when girls are finding out who they are, the ability to camouflage in order to fit into a given environment is a highly perilous quality for girls," she said.

"It particularly makes them vulnerable to verdicts of others about their own incompetence."

"These years for girls coincide with the equally important years for boys in which they are testing out their strength, voicing claims they cannot yet deliver, seeing how much they can dominate the world around them."

From later in the same report:

A 2002 study by the National Foundation for Educational Research suggested girls in single-sex comprehensives achieved better results than girls in mixed schools, especially in GCSE science.

It also suggested separate schooling particularly benefited those at the lower end of the ability range.

which makes sense. If you're at a co-ed school, you can cheer yourself up for being bad at school work by impressing the boys. No boys to impress, and exams, work, etc., are the only game to play.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:58 PM
Category: Peer pressure
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