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What are your thoughts on single sex schools?

(60 Posts)
BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 20:48:36

I have recently been thinking about my schooling.

I went to normal mixed state primary. Liked it (ish) but very shy and got picked on a bit. I did ok but had low self esteem (despite being quite bright) and didnt push myself.

My parents then put me into an all girls academic private school for secondary. I look back and am overall really happy with this education that I received. It was a bit of a bubble, but I did really well in my exams, went to a good university and have had good jobs. I do not I think I would have had this if I went to a normal state school, as here I was surrounded by very bright girls who worked hard. It was also the norm to do all sciences, no concept of boy vs girl subjects, didn't wear make up or even have an awareness that how I looked should matter. I'm really pleased with that looking back.

But then the negatives are that when I got to university, I had absolutely no idea how to behave around boys. I was so nervous and anxious, having never really spoken
to a boy before. I am lucky enough that I muddled through and finally met someone and now we have ds together, but I honestly think I still have a lot of issues with sex, being prudish and other things. I look at my friends and despite being successful career wise, a lot of them struggle to maintain or even have a relationship. I know that a lot of people struggle with relationships anyway, but I do sometimes wonder if this was made worse by being in a single sex school.

What experiences does everyone else have with this? I'm now 30 so this was back in the 2000s so I wonder if things have changed. It's hard as you only know your own experiences. My dh went to a mixed school but then he seemed just as hopeless with girls as I was with boys!

I also wonder for ds as even though we are a way off this issue (he's a baby) the good grammar school near us is all boys.

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BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 20:51:46

A part of me thinks 'kids will be kids' as I spent a lot of my teenage years wondering what it would be like to have a boyfriend, but I probably would have spent the same amount of time chasing specific boys in a mixed school.

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BackforGood Sat 11-Jul-20 20:54:15

I'd say if your dc do attend a single sex school, then it is important to also mix with others outside of school, so their only friends, and only cohort they mix with, aren't from school.
In truth, I actually think having friends who are from somewhere else altogether is a real positive for and teen growing up.

Chicchicchicchiclana Sat 11-Jul-20 20:57:34

Single sex schooling has been great for my dd (but she went to a mixed 6th form) and not so good for my ds. But I think that has more to do with their personalities and not the schools they went to.

whenwillthemadnessend Sat 11-Jul-20 21:01:30

As we can't do two schools at the same time it's very hard to say.

I do believe all girls has an edge over mixed but I sent my dd to mixed as it was nearly as well achieving as the all girls but I preferred the atmosphere.

The girls didn't even have a great many male teachers they were nearly all women and I felt it wasn't natural. i wanted my dd to be able to have male friends as I did in my later teens.

She is very happy there.

My friends dd goes to the girls she is happy at school but I have noticed she seems much more boy focused I'm sure she will do very well in her exams and I hope she does, but I do wonder how she will fair with life after school. The problem is she doesn't have brothers and goes to no mixed clubs. I think it's important to send girls or boys from single sex schools into mixed settings of some sort. 7 years with no boys is just weird. Not my choice though just my opinion.

BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:02:43

I remember some girls wanted to leave for sixth form and the teachers warning them off saying they would face sexual harassment if had male classmates and all sorts.

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BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:03:12

Looking back, it just doesnt feel very progressive to me.

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Mawbags Sat 11-Jul-20 21:04:52

My children don’t even have any few male cousins so for me a mixed sex school was vital

They are in a mixed private school as we live in an archaic single sex system and I hate it

whenwillthemadnessend Sat 11-Jul-20 21:06:18

Yes. I actually feel single sex a very sexist concept. Why teach our kids at such an impressionable age that the opposite sex is wrong or will hold them back in some way. The whole concept just feels wrong.

However I am most definitely in the minority on Mumsnet. grin

BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:07:16

@whenwillthemadnessend my parents were convinced I just wasnt interested in boys at all and I haven't the heart to tell them how I really felt. I wish they'd pushed my into doing a club, anything! But it's not their fault and not fair on me to say that. It ds went to a single sex school though I would be desperate for him to mix with girls in some way!

Also what is single sex boys like? Dh isnt keen but the mixed state schools around here are a bit crap.

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Farcry66 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:08:14

I've only had experience of mixed schools but all of the educational research I've done suggests tgat single sex really benefits girls but boys do better in mixed schools. I think if I had girls (I don't, I have 2 boys) then I would prefer a single sex school up until sixth form and mixed from then.

BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:09:34

@whenwillthemadnessend I think as so many good schools are still single sex. Annoyingly!

Dh did ask me why though. He asked why they boys grammar school is still single sex. He said he kind of gets it for girls as sexism in mixed schools. But why for boys?

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whenwillthemadnessend Sat 11-Jul-20 21:11:04

My DH went all boys.

He messed up his exams in sixth form as the boys found pubs. Luckily in those days it didn't natter so much as he got into uni.

He said if you weren't good at sports it wasn't great.

He said he witnessed horrendous bullying

He was adamant our ds would go to the mixed school.

However he is 50 so things have moved on a bit I'd hope.

BiscuitLover3679 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:20:23

I have anecdotal evidence from friends who had brothers and the brothers who went to single sex school did very well academically and were quite polite and lovely (although painfully shy). According to facebook one of them has joined that horrible incel movement though. confused

The boys who went to mixed schools seemed a bit mad, arrogant and took loads of drugs. May have been more to do with those schools than the fact they were mixed though.

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Sallycinammonbangsthedruminthe Sat 11-Jul-20 21:27:30

My son attended a single sex school and he loved it. He excelled academically...they did sometimes work with the girls school to do plays and trips etc,He made life long friends and is 30 now and still intouch with his school friends from both boys school and girls school...worked really well for us but wouldnt suit everyone.

Rockbird Sat 11-Jul-20 21:31:43

I went to single sex secondary, DD1 chose to go to single sex secondary. She absolutely didn't want to go to mixed, and a year on she's happy with her decision. She couldn't wait to see the back of the boys she went to school with.

MutteringDarkly Sat 11-Jul-20 21:37:43

Recently moved DD from mixed to all girls - her confidence has absolutely rocketed. Of course there are going to be excellent schools of both kinds, but a poor experience in a mixed school (constant "low level" violence and aggression, dismissed as boys will be boys) led us to explore all girls. It's been absolutely fantastic so far.

fallfallfall Sat 11-Jul-20 21:41:46

for me (three well into their 30's) a small mixed class was the ideal. small enough that they get personal attention and become well known to the staff yet big enough for different friendship groups over the years (so say 18-22). then single sex, and last large schools with large classes.
if single sex is chosen the parent(s) need to make sure there is adequate mingling with the opposite sex (but a sibling could do this).
or simply a mixed sex club (martial arts or swim etc.).
at this point; two grand children in single sex, one is small mixed. the boys display behavior generally associated with boys (energetic) and the girls again behavior generally associated with girls (quiet and studious skilled communicators verbal and non verbal). so for me i continue to be of the view the different sexes learn differently therefor benefit from single sex environments at certain periods of their education.

ShinyFootball Sat 11-Jul-20 21:42:45

I went to a mixed primary, single sex secondary, mixed sixth form.

I think going to a single sex secondary was really good for me as I enjoyed and was good at science and maths and I had zero idea of all the sterotypes, it was an all girl's school with all the subjects and so obviously all subjects were totally open to girls.

It wasn't until I got to sixth form for a level that I realised how few girls do some subjects.

I've always got on well with boys, men etc. Our school was a bit unusual maybe that there was a boys school next door and we shared transport so we knew lots of them and socialised out of school. Maybe that's a good combination?

AlexandPea Sat 11-Jul-20 21:49:45

I went to a single sex girls’ school from 4-18.

Plus (and it is a major plus that has benefitted me massively): we were taught that we could do ANYTHING. Sciences, Maths, Economics - these were all given equal encouragement and never pigeon-holed into masculine/feminine disciplines. Sexism just didn’t feature and I was used to being judged on merit; I feel that gave me a sense of security and the confidence to stand up to it if/when I encountered it professionally.

There was little concern about appearance (for PE we had to run around in big blue knickers and vest blush).

We weren’t distracted by boys, and being bright was valued and encouraged.

I got to Oxbridge.

Negative: Long term, socially it has created issues. Boys were a completely alien species and I was pretty prudish. Going to university, was like sending a nun to party with Caligula!

DollyMixtureLulus Sat 11-Jul-20 21:51:51

I went to a co-ed school and have the same issues with men as you. I would have dearly loved to have gone to an all-girls' school.

coronabeer23 Sat 11-Jul-20 21:52:37

I’m strongly against single sex education although as perfectly happy in a single sex girls soil. To me it’s completely contrary to modern life.

My children have all been at private prep and then state secondary. All co-Ed.

Their experience has been nothing but positive. They have very simple uncomplicated friendships with both sexes, and very mixed friendship groups. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence of girls being seen as anything other than equals. At 6th form the girls are just as likely, if not more likely to do STEM subjects. My DS is very much on the arts path. His girl friend and his other female friends are quite science orientated with lots of biology and chemistry and more than a few applying for biochemistry / criminology etc while the boys are more about history and politics degrees!!! In terms of my daughter, I find that having friendships with boys definitely dilutes some of the less than lovely teen girl bitchiness. She doesn’t feel any kind of academic inferiority either and has a very comfortable and easy relationship with both sexes

. I’d be very very uncomfortable with choosing a single sex school. In fact, one reason we went state At secondary was because it gave us a much bigger choice of co-Ed schools.

Chickenkatsu Sat 11-Jul-20 21:53:59

@whenwillthemadnessend I agree with you, it seems so backwards to still be doing single sex schooling in 2020. Everyone who sends their children to private school says how "well rounded" they are but I always wonder if it is really true.

AgeLikeWine Sat 11-Jul-20 21:54:46

I went to a mixed-sex comp and did STEM A levels, so most of my mates in sixth form were lads. This experience had a big effect on me, I went to university thinking of men as normal people to whom I could talk as equals, rather than as some strange alien species and I have always had friends who happen to be men. The idea of being in an all-girls school sounds awful.

ShinyFootball Sat 11-Jul-20 22:01:10

For many on the thread who experienced it, it was great!

I've never seen men or boys as aliens. I had a brother, he had friends, and we socialised with the boys on the transport and out of school. My female friends had brothers etc.

Maybe that's the happy medium.

Why would a girl or a boy see the other as aliens? Most children have people around of the opposite sex surely?

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