A summary of arguments for and against choosing a single sex or mixed school.
Having read “Should I choose a mixed or single sex school?” you’re reading this article because you still think you have a choice. In which case, here are the main arguments made for or against mixed or single sex schools. They are subjective and they are contradictory, just like the debate. See what you think.
Arguments for a single sex school education
- Girls “do better overall” in a girls-only school.
- Boys and girls develop in different ways and at different rates, requiring different teaching.
- In groups girls want to co-operate whereas boys want to dominate. Therefore in a mixed group girls will either hold back, or avoid the mixed group altogether.
- In a girls-only environment, girls are more likely to study and excel in traditional male subjects such as science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM).
- Boys and girls socialise mainly with their own gender in a mixed school.
- Boys and girls in a mixed school distract each other to the detriment of their studies.
Arguments for a mixed school education
- Boys “do better overall” in a mixed school.
- In the real world, men and women have to get along professionally and socially. A mixed school prepares them whereas a single sex school compromises this skill.
- Girls in a mixed school are more likely to try football and cricket. Boys in a mixed school are more likely to try dance, singing and drama.
- A boys-only school is testosterone fuelled and sport driven.
- The emotional intensity of a girls-only school leads to more bullying than in a mixed school.
Preferences for a single sex or mixed school education are based on social considerations not academic
Studies comparing the academic achievements in national exams of single sex and mixed schools are inconclusive and contradictory. Some studies may show one type of school outperforming the other in one year, but not over a number of years. Other studies fail to eliminate the impact of academic selection, among other things, in some of the test schools.
So is it all down to a matter of personal preference? It seems so.
Diamond Schools; the best of both worlds
If you happen to live near one of the 15 “Diamond Schools”, you don’t have to make a decision. Diamond Schools educate boys and girls together in the early years, separately at 11-16, then together again from 16-18, the sixth form. Schools vary in the age at which they teach the sexes separately. Usually it’s 11-16, but it can also be 7-16 or even 5-16. One small detail; all Diamond Schools are independent.
A final thought. During their careers teachers will move between mixed and single sex schools. If one type of school was truly better than the other would they really switch?