Is an all girls secondary after mixed primary a mistake?

(39 Posts)
CandyCrush Sat 05-Jan-13 17:28:51

Hello all.

My DDs father and I are separated (since she was born) we have a good amicable relationship and agree that due to where we live, a private secondary education is a good idea. He can afford to fund this, but the "extras" will be largely up to me.

The problem is that the city in which we live has a surprisingly limited choice of secondary private education. The obvious choice is an all girls school which is very close to our homes and has a good reputation. It's not hugely expensive or selective and has a friendly atmosphere. The nice thing is that the girls are from a very mixed bag of backgrounds, some mega-rich, but largely "normal" working families (which would be us!).

My reservation is that it's all girls! I went to a mixed comp so I have no idea if this is a good idea or not. DDs dad is not keen on the idea and wants mixed-sex.

In theory I am happy with that but the problem is that in practise there is no reasonable alternative. In the city there are two other private schools, one is a very highly respected, highly selective, very sporty major public school (also very expensive!). It has only been mixed for a while so I think it is still majority boys. The other is a huge imposing very prestigious girls school which is out of the question.

How do I put it to DDs dad that the only option is the local girls school? I can't see DD at the mixed one. It's just so not her (or me, or him either!).

Aside from that, she is currently at a local state primary, is it a bad idea to think that she can go private at year 7 or should we be looking at moving her before? Because of the area we live in, she certain,y won't be the only one from her school going private!

Sorry for the essay, this is something that is worrying me a lot at the moment...

musicalfamily Sat 05-Jan-13 17:37:14

We are in a similar situation in that I favour mixed but don't have huge choice.
Also whilst I thought it was going to be a secondary school option, now my DD is in in Y3 I am starting to think we won't be able to wait that long, because I can see the gap "widening". I know many who do manage it but not without tutoring (either bought or at home) unless her primary school is fantastic (ours isn't, very patchy education).

What year is your DD in?

With regards to mixed vs same sex, what does your DD say? My DD doesn't like the idea much.

yummymumtobe Sat 05-Jan-13 17:45:11

I went to a state primary from 4-11 and a girls day school after that. It wasn't an issue at all. I don't know what people have against girls schools! Just means you get on with work and friendships without thinking about boys! It also makes girls feel more sure of themselves I think. Eg we played hockey and football but when I went to 6th form (which was mixed) those sports were only for boys and girls couldn't play them. Before that I hadn't really had a concept of things being for boys and other things for girls!

Feenie Sat 05-Jan-13 17:48:16

I went to state primaries from 4-11 then a state girls' high school, and it was hell. Take any usual bullying/bitchiness and ramp it up to times about a thousand, ime. Would never send any dd of mine to a girls' school!

musicalfamily Sat 05-Jan-13 17:49:06

Personally I have nothing against all girls' schools, but it does depend on the child. My DD for example loves the company of boys, never has all girls birthday parties like most of her friends do, plays more with boys than girls etc so I think that it would be quite difficult to her to be in an all girls environment.

CandyCrush Sat 05-Jan-13 17:49:54

Her current school is really very good, a lot of parents here will choose it over private as it has such a good reputation. That said, it is very very big and the junior part is not as great as the infants.

DD is 6 so it's a while till we have to make a final decision, but if she is going to start earlier than yr7 it's not that far off...

To be honest, I think she would actually love the all-girls aspect. She is a very gentle, studious, arty type. Not hugely physical or sporty at the moment. She does get on fine with boys, just not the boisterous ones! Her friends at school are all girls and she would know a few girls at the girls school already anyway. Not sure about the mixed school, possibly know one boy who might go there...

QOD Sat 05-Jan-13 17:51:54

My dd is much much less socially boy mature than her friends from primary. WO went to the mixed high school.
Not all the girls at her all girls grammar are, but a lot ARE.

I like grin

I actually went there too and it didnt hold me back boy wish, however, we were less exposed to stuff in the olden golden 80's

CandyCrush Sat 05-Jan-13 17:53:12

It's the bitchyness I'm worried about really I suppose! Plus in terms of boys etc, everyone keeps saying "oh the private school girls are the worst of the lot" blushconfused

TeaDr1nker Sat 05-Jan-13 17:54:22

Personally I think you have to look at the needs of your child.

I went to a girls junior which I hated and vowed never to send DD to a single sex school. DP went to a single sex senior school and got on fine. Someone pointed out that although I had a bad time in a single sex school doesn't mean DD would. I don't see why your DD would have a problem with a single sex school. Also academically they do better on the whole when apart. I guess as long as she does mixed extra caricular activities there shouldn't be a problem.

cavell Sat 05-Jan-13 18:03:19

My elder daughter goes to an all girls school - she has not been bullied there - but we did have to move her from her mixed primary school due to bullying.

In other words, bullying goes on in mixed schools as well as single sex schools.

I don't see any particular problem with switching from a mixed school to a single sex one. If you lived where I do, you wouldn't really have much choice in the matter because almost all local secondaries are single sex.

All the evidence suggests that girls do better in a single sex environment.

zeldapinwheel Sat 05-Jan-13 18:26:14

I went to a mixed comprehensive for 2 years then an expensive private girls school for the rest and I must say the girls at the private school were a lot more boy obsessed and
wilder than the girls in the mixed school. (I stayed friends when I left) I went to some seriously out of control parties at the houses of some very rich girls!

moonbells Sat 05-Jan-13 18:58:02

I went to a mixed primary, then a mixed secondary for two years and then a girls' comp for my final 5 years. All state schools. I was so glad to get to the girls' school, as I could do my science and maths without getting gyp from the boys about it, and even from some of the teachers!

Girls' schools mean that your DD could study what she wanted without gender bias or stereotyping creeping in. Or being teased by boys for not doing 'appropriate' girly subjects. Yes, girls can be a bit bitchy but so can girls at a mixed as well.

CandyCrush Sat 05-Jan-13 19:16:32

I'm pretty much sold on all girls, the trouble is that I have to convince my ex. I'm actually fairly sure that when we actually get to the visiting stage, he'll be won over... Hopefully anyway confused

SocietyClowns Sat 05-Jan-13 19:17:11

I did both. Mixed comp up to 15, then all girls to A level. Much preferred the atmosphere in the girls school. And quite honestly, the lack of boys was a bonus. When I was 12,13,14,15 I was a good head taller than the boys in my class and found them embarrassing. They really were boys an didn't catch up in maturity for a good while.

My dd1 is in yr1 at an all girls school and loves it. I have no issues about her not seeing boys in the classroom.

As for waiting for yr7, your concern may be justified OP. at my daughter's school there was so much interest from parents for yr6 that they created an extra class. Parents realised it would be a good investment for their dc to catch up a bit and have a near guaranteed entry into the senior school by starting a year early.

maiacam Sat 05-Jan-13 19:25:23

If it is in the BN area I know the schools you are referring too. I used to think really highly of the girls school and was only going to consider it for my daughter who is in year 6 at the moment but I have heard certain things that have really changed my mind plus there are quite a few girls in the current year 6 at the junior school who want to leave. My daughter went for a taster day and didn't like it at all she is now going to a small private co ed school in a nearby town which my son attends and loves. I am so happy with my choice for both children. If it is not BN area then disregard this message. Any more info required please contact me.

CandyCrush Sat 05-Jan-13 20:10:06

You are spot on with the area. Is it that obvious? wink

piggywigwig Sat 05-Jan-13 20:13:56

I went from a mixed primary to an all-girls grammar school in the late 70's to mid 80's. I loved it and would have hated to have been in a mixed school. I've always tended to get on better with males on a social level but I was glad to see the back-end of them in classroom terms, come the final part of my last year in primary school. My view never wavered throughout GS - the boys we came across from the boys' grammar, were geeks or arrogant twerps - bleurghhhh wink

DD2 will hopefully be going to the all girls' GS this year and I feel sure she'll continue to thrive without boys in the class wink I know that bitchiness can rear its ugly head but I can't see that it's going to be any worse than what DD1 suffered at mixed secondary. Anyway, hormones have been rampant and causing immense "boyfriend/girlfriend" problems for DD2's class for the last 18 months...I'll be glad to have her away from that distraction in the classroom wink

crazycarol Sat 05-Jan-13 23:45:15

We have done exactly this with dd and 5 years in have no regrets. However we focussed on the right school for dd rather than looking at co-ed/all girls. She also got a place at a co-ed school with similar academic standards, but her choice was the all girls school, it was smaller (half the size) and in her opinion had a good "feel". It was also very highly thought of for music provision which was important to dd. The co-ed school was also very good for music but not quite as good.

DD is a sensitive hard working girl who at 10/11 just found boys a bit of a nuisance. So the absence of boys was a bonus to her!

However this all girls school is partner to an all boys school and they do lots of extracurricular stuff together and also 6th form is co-ed in order to prepare them for uni, real life etc so not complete segregation.

TotallyBS Sun 06-Jan-13 00:32:35

My DD goes to a girls-only secondary school. It hasn't been a problem for us/her since she mixes with boys at her extra curricular activities.

Elibean Sun 06-Jan-13 11:38:36

I went to an all-girls secondary, and whilst I did enjoy it I do remember us all being hugely boy-obsessed. Possibly times have changed, with lots more extra-curricular opportunities to mix socially with boys helping.

I think it depends on the child, tbh, and on the school.

We're thinking dd1 may go private at Y7, if the local comp hasn't improved sufficiently by then (she's in Y4 now). She adores her primary, and it is just right for her - so we've taken the risk and will deal with secondary as it comes.

I do think single sex/mixed is not as important as it just being the right school.

crazygracieuk Sun 06-Jan-13 14:44:28

A lot of girls in ds1's primary school made a similar change and judging from their FB updates they love it.

Single sex education is supposed to be best for girls from an academic point of view and if most of her current friends are girls then that's a bigger friendship pool?

My da1 is equally friendly with boys and girls so I would choose co-ed but many boys will have sisters/ neighbours/ friends at the local girls school so he'd still meet them socially. He is at a mixed comp but meets people from 2 other local comps all the time so Si think it's normal.

DD (Y4) is at a mixed primary and will probably go to a girls' secondary as we feel it's the best school for her.

Both state, although that doesn't really make much difference to the question you're asking.

Things I like about the girls' school:

The freedom to be good at any subject without sexist pressure, e.g. Physics, Maths

Less distraction during lessons and no complications of having to share lessons with potential, current or past boyfriends

No classmates sending you sexually inappropriate texts, asking you for naked photos or pressurising you for fellatio in the toilets.

I realise that these are not a problem in every mixed secondary school, but all of them have happened to friends' daughters in the one that DD would be going to.

notnagging Sun 06-Jan-13 15:05:58

I don't see how this would be an issue. Most selective schools are single sex aren't they? They are around here.

Elibean Sun 06-Jan-13 15:07:38

Co-ed independent schools around here - selective and less (but still) selective.

Heifer Sun 06-Jan-13 15:08:43

My DD (9) goes to an all girls primary school and will continue in secondary.
It was a big issue for me when we moved to the area and I hadn't any experience but it was the best school for her..

In Secondary here most schools are single sex. We still have Grammar schools here and all are single sex. Even more single sex comp schools than mixed.

I had read that girls perform better at single sex but boys don't. No idea how true that actually is,but I definitely know it's right for my DD.

The key for me as she is also an only and no young cousins etc is to make sure she does some activities with boys.

Whiteshoes Sun 06-Jan-13 15:23:57

It's a long time since I looked at the data, but back in the day, girls performed better in all girls' schools, and boys performed better in mixed schools.

And I also think it's very good for girls to think all subjects are suitable for girls.

CandyCrush Sun 06-Jan-13 15:34:57

DD is also an only child, but she would always have a lot of contact with boys. She has 6 boy cousins of similar age to her and because the area we live in is so densely populated she is always around lots of boys.

I need to work on her dad, although I also think it will come down to which school is best rather than the type of school. It's just frustrating that there is so little choice here. Travelling further afield would be tricky for us for a number of reasons but its also a possibility as that opens up a lot of options.

KenDoddsDadsDog Chile Sun 06-Jan-13 15:37:59

I went from mixed to all girls and it was fine. My best school friends to this day are lads from the boys school !

maiacam Sun 06-Jan-13 15:47:25

Good luck with your decision all the private schools I can think of in the surrounding area have very good bus services x

Copthallresident Sun 06-Jan-13 16:22:38

You may find that however much you worry ahead the decision you reach after you have visited the schools and gone through the admissions process will not be what you anticipated. We had quite negative perceptions of the school my DD went to, but she walked out of the interview knowing that was where she wanted to go and it was a wise choice, she thrived there. It was single sex but that wasn't the basis of the decision. It just felt right.

Inaflap Wed 09-Jan-13 18:33:43

I have taught in mixed and in all girls. The difference is marked. The amount of time and attention that boys take should not be underestimated and i am the mother of two boys. The low level disruption and just general dominance of lads means that quiet girls in particular get overlooked and also always get seated next to the disruptive lad in an effort to maintain behaviour. The girls school you describe sounds very similar to my experience and I would say that the girls have the freedom to be well normal and themselves without conforming to some sort of stereotype. With the prevalence in the media of sexualised women girls do seem to take on that. We had a huge problem in my mixed school (successful, very high achieving in a niace area) with girls wearing teeny weeny skirts even the really brainy ones. In the single sex school it just isn't an issue. In the mixed environment, boys sport dominated and it was a very rare girl that played a knockabout football game at breaktime with the lads. You never saw girls outside. In the ss school, girls do still tend to talk more at break but there is also more running around and sport is highly regarded.

Inshort, if I had a daughter I would send to single sex school if I felt that the rest of the package was good. It wouldn't be the sole reason for my choice though.

LaQueen Thu 10-Jan-13 11:23:21

No, I'm all for all girls schools at secondary level.

Both our DDs are at a mixed primary, but will go up to an all girl's grammar - and I'm very happy about this.

I have worked in schools and I think that girls stay young girls for longer in a single sex school. I think they can concentrate better at lessons, and do far better in the sciences and maths.

There's fewer distractions, or emotional angst over rubbing shoulders with boyfriends/ex boyfriends/hopeful boyfriends...and school remains largely the place where they get educated and doesn't provide a stage for them to act our their teenage desires/angst.

Our DDs will still mix socially with boys all the time, in their cricket team, tennis lessons, with their cousins, their friend's brothers...but I'm really pleased they won't be mixing with them at school.

LaQueen Thu 10-Jan-13 11:25:23

To add, I have 3 friends and two relatives who teach in mixed/single sex schools and their experiences are the same as Inaflap's. And I just don't want that for our DDs.

losingtrust Sat 12-Jan-13 11:40:47

I did both. Mixed primary, all girls then mixed comp. All girls did not suit me. I was always much happier in mixed and enjoyed the competitiveness of the boys particularly academically. My dd though is very different. Much happier in all girls. The attitude of girls to boys does worry me though as the behaviour of the girls at our local private girls school was not good and they did have a reputation with the teachers and with boys. I actually found girls state schools or selective girls schools had less of an issue therefore would not send dd to mon-selective girls' private school.

losingtrust Sat 12-Jan-13 11:49:52

School uniform was worse at the all girls private school. My personal view is that a girl who is quiet may be better at all girls. An academic but competitive girl who is not afraid of speaking up is better in a mixed.

Devora Sat 12-Jan-13 11:49:58

I like to have an opinion on everything, but really struggle to come up with a view on mixed sex vs. single sex. Depends on the child, depends on the school. I think there's a lot of stereotyping that all girls is bitchier, but just from reading MN threads I don't see that children in mixed schools get off any lighter.

I went to a mixed primary, followed by a girls (state) secondary, and I don't think the bitching was any worse than anywhere. The bullying was I think at a lower level than at most schools. The other positive thing is that I did find it quite a relief to have a daily refuge from the constant dealing-with-boys-and-finding-it-all-very-stressful thing that comes with adolescence.

Academically, girls tend to do better in single sex environments.

IslaValargeone Mon 14-Jan-13 16:52:07

My dd has been 'the quiet girl put next to the disruptive lad' at both of the primaries she has attended.
In September she starts at an all girls school, she can't wait.

cq Mon 14-Jan-13 16:58:04

I went to an all-girls school and vowed I would never put my kids in single sex education.

Here I am with DD in Yr 7 and DS in Yr 9, both in single sex independent schools and both doing very well.

In the end, it was more about the school, the ethos and the feel of the place rather than just the single sex v mixed issue for me.

Never say never eh? smile

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