Mummy says….’Finding a place for your child at a good school is often a challenge, but many parents also find themselves pondering the type of school that’s likely to be best for their children. Would they be happier and more successful in a single-sex or mixed school?
The answer isn’t simple, and a lot will depend on the child, but these are some of the issues you could consider.
Different ways of learning
It’s well known that, on average, girls mature faster than boys. This can put boys at a disadvantage in a mixed-sex classroom. But it may also mean that boys work harder in mixed schools if teachers are aware of the problem and give them the right support.
Girls can benefit in single-sex schools, where they get more intellectual stimulation early on and when subjects are approached in a more cooperative way.
Escaping social pressures
The social pressures of mixed-sex environments can have a damaging effect on girls. Boys tend to dominate in classroom discussions, with assertive girls risking being picked out for bullying. There’s also evidence that girls do worse in maths and science if they are in the company of boys because they have less confidence about their comparative ability.
A good single-sex school such as Hornsey School for Girls can encourage girls to explore a wide range of academic interests, take on leadership roles and feel good about their abilities. This can make them less willing to put up with sexist behaviour when they leave.
Preparation for the real world
On the flip side of this, critics of single-sex schools argue that they can’t possibly prepare people for the real world because they produce young people who have little experience of it. They argue that boys and girls need to learn how to interact with one another, and say that flirtations at this age, which single-sex schools often say are a distraction from academic work, are important to developing the skills needed to have healthy relationships in adult life. There is also concern that women who have been to single-sex schools can underestimate the challenge of dealing with sexism and become more inclined to give in to it.
Sexism can start early in life, and there is evidence that girls in mixed-sex schools are often bullied or even sexually harassed by boys. Boys, however, tend to be less aggressive in mixed groups, and may treat women with more respect in later life if they encounter confident girls when they’re young.
Just as all-boy groups can become aggressive, all-girls groups can be bitchy, and this too seems to be diluted in a mixed-sex environment.
Ultimately, the most important things about any school are its overall ethos and the quality of the teaching, but parents should keep an eye on their children’s progress and be open to moving them to a new type of school if they might do better there.
Whichever type of school you choose, there is always the unfortunate opportunity for an accident there, it may be worth checking out the schools policy on accidents and emergencies.
There is a lot to think about and consider – what do you think?