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Single sx vs mixed at primary and secondary for boys

(44 Posts)
Almostnever Thu 16-Apr-15 20:50:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MN164 Fri 17-Apr-15 11:09:22

We went co-ed primary. I don't think that there is much for or against single-sex vs co-ed at the primary stage.

We have one of "each" and the only thing that really sticks is boys interest in "football" which tends to bond them together with girls finding other "non-football" groups to be with. Our son is happy in the company of girls, but mostly just wants to kick a ball around in the park. Our daughter has about an equal number of friends as girls and boys.

Secondary school, which we are about to experience for the elder, is rather different, in my unexperienced opinion, because of adolescence.

I've posted in some depth (including references to research in the UK) on the single sex vs co-ed at secondary choice.

The broad conclusion I came to is that first and foremost your child may respond differently to mine so there is no generalised "right" answer for all. That said there is quite a bit of evidence for girls of 11-16 being better off in a single sex environment - I'm talking about real evidence and research as opposed to "girls are so x, y, or z" type anecdotes or personal experiences. For boys the picture is not so cut and dry so either path is likely to be fine.

Seriouslyffs Fri 17-Apr-15 11:11:26

Co Ed for primary, single sex for secondary, with the caveat that if the child doesn't have opposite sex siblings they might struggle socially.
It's not the biggest factor is choosing a school.

thankgoditsover Fri 17-Apr-15 12:08:50

I just think single sex for primary is weird. Why would you separate a bunch of four-year-olds into boys and girls? You might as well have different schools for people with curly hair.

Secondary I can see there is some argument. Son is going to a single sex school. I'd have marginally preferred co-ed if all things had been equal, but by far the best option was the single sex so I went with that. I'm neutral by this point, but I cannot imagine under what planet I'd send my children off to separate primaries (plus they go to state primary so not an option anyway).

happygardening Fri 17-Apr-15 16:11:38

We did coed for prep (till yr 9) and now single sex. I like single sex for adolescents, teachers understand boys, how they learn, the camaraderie between the boys is very strong and I know the head of music thinks the boys use the full range of their voices if there are no girls and I wonder if boys are also more inclined it do subjects often dominated by girls in coed e.g. art or history of art if there are no girls. For example history of art is dominated by girls at Uni but at DS's school the Pre U history of art class are I'm told full in both years and more popular than some MFL's. I could be wrong but it's just a thought.

MN164 Fri 17-Apr-15 17:28:43


You're not wrong. There is plenty of research showing that students choose subjects more freely without gender stereotyping in single sex schools in this country. Boys choose humanities, MFL, art and music more often and girls choose sciences, DT, etc more often.

Apparently the biggest differential in subject choices between single sex and co-ed is for girls choosing Maths and Physics.

For example:
"Girls were almost two and a half times more likely to go on to do A-level physics if they came from a girls’ school rather than a co-ed school (for all types of maintained schools in England)"

It's a sad state of affairs that patriarchy is so deep in this country that even teenagers feel pressure to conform to the subtlest of stereotypes. This doesn't happen to the same extent in many other countries (but I'm sure we can all think of cultures which might be worse too).

Millymollymama Fri 17-Apr-15 18:17:53

We did a girls boarding/day prep for our younger DD. This worked well because the sport was outstanding and every subject was encouraged. Both of mine were at single sex secondary boarding. The staff really do understand teenage girls!

If they are well adjusted, they will get to meet boys socially . Often the brothers of friends and brothers' friends and socials at school (although these can be very odd!). Neither of mine have the slightest trouble having male friends. I think social media has really changed all of that unless you want to be a hermit!

Almostnever Fri 17-Apr-15 22:44:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

summerends Sat 18-Apr-15 06:54:26

Almost I think it does also depend on the personality of a boy. In co-ed schools I've observed, it does seem as though the girls dominate a bit with the organising and talking which means that a shy or more laid back boy may be less likely to put himself forward and develop those skills.
I presume most staff at boys' schools are there because they enjoy teaching boys and indulging in the banter and IME that means the boys tend to enjoy their lessons more. I think in some co-ed schools boys are viewed more as a disruptive influence (which obviously they can be smile not only by the girls but also some staff.

I think you have to consider the co-ed school from the perspective of your DSs to make sure that they will be as happy there as a confident, well-behaved girl and be comfortable to develop in an arty direction.

ZeroFunDame Sat 18-Apr-15 07:24:20

Depends ...

Personality, interest and aspirations of the boy(s) involved. So in your case single sex might suit one and not the other. If your sons' primary interests are sewing or singing they may find more scope and a less inhibiting atmosphere at a single sex school. OTOH if they're habitually more friendly with girls than boys ...

The nature of the schools. A day school next door to and sharing some facilities / lessons / events with a mixed or girls school is a rather different proposition to a single sex boarding school with one social per term. Both might be superb but you might feel you have to make more effort to provide mingling opportunities at the latter.

When you say which has the edge are you thinking specifically of exam results or more amorphous elements of school life?

MN164 Sat 18-Apr-15 07:40:19

"Which has the edge ...."

If that means academic, then the answer is plain - single sex. There are good examples of excellent results from co-eds, but like for like and empirically, single sex wins on "exam results" and outcomes. This remains true in the independent sector but also in the state sector. In the state sector there are plenty of faith/grammar single sex schools. Here you have to "control" for the other selective factors. However, there are some secular single sex state schools too and, compared to their local and regional peers, they also outperform on academic outcomes. Again, there may be some correlation between parents of high achievers and parents that favour single sex schools. Data analysis needs some judgement too. smile (wonders if TP is about to show up)

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 18-Apr-15 07:53:08

Primary: doesn't make any difference; either is fine.

11-16: I believe that single-sex setting is better for girls (no sexual harrassment, easier to excel in Maths & Sciences). For boys there may be less of a difference.

16+: Probably doesn't make much difference.

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 18-Apr-15 07:58:23

We chose co-ed primary and single-sex secondary for 3 sons and 1 daughter.

No regrets so far.

DS2 sings in two choirs. His friends from primary who went to the co-ed school have mentioned that at their school, only girls sing in the choir.

Almostnever Sun 19-Apr-15 08:11:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Almostnever Sun 19-Apr-15 08:17:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MN164 Sun 19-Apr-15 08:21:48

I'm guilty of wanting to protect 11-16 from too much pressure to "perform" as an adult. There is enough pressure of that kind already in our culture and media.

There are enough opportunities for a 16-21 year old to develop all the skills needed to relate to the opposite sex whilst studying or working having developed their own self confidence and conviction in their ability and "right" to a skill.

I know, for better or worse, very many people that came through single sex education, partly as a function of being in London where it's so popular and available. In this small data set it's obvious that no one was disadvantaged in dealing with the other gender as normally as anyone else.

fairgroundsnack Sun 19-Apr-15 08:24:19

As I once heard the headmistress of a highly regarded girls' school say "I am perfectly happy for my sons to be educated with other people's daughters, but there is no way my daughters will be educated with other people's sons".

nooka Sun 19-Apr-15 08:26:12

dh and I both went to single sex secondaries (although I transferred to a boys school at sixth form). We both agree that we would never send our children to a single sex school, and it was one of the reasons we moved prior to secondary.

Where we live now there are no single sex schools and we are happy with the school our children go to. They'd not be happy about single sex because they like being at the same school and look out for each other a lot (although dd could do without ds's friends getting crushes on her).

OP have you visited both schools and got a feel for how they would meet your children's needs? I think that should be your deciding factor really.

ZeroFunDame Sun 19-Apr-15 08:35:24

If I were deciding for you:

DS1 - Boys' school.

DS2 Mixed.

Sorry OPgrin

Springisontheway Sun 19-Apr-15 09:20:21

"I am perfectly happy for my sons to be educated with other people's daughters, but there is no way my daughters will be educated with other people's sons".


Seriouslyffs Sun 19-Apr-15 10:19:03

What do they want OP?
Can you ask them without leading them to believe 'what you say you want you get'?
The distance and feasibility of them making their own way to and fro would probably be the clincher for me.

happygardening Sun 19-Apr-15 11:50:40

I suspect if you ask them what they want they will say coed!

summerends Sun 19-Apr-15 12:46:19

Next question, does the boys' school seem to be more dominated by a straight academic / sporty ethos or does it if have strong art / drama / music?
If the former I would go for co-ed for both. If the latter go for the boys' school for both.

iseenodust Sun 19-Apr-15 13:13:32

Our catchment secondary is single sex and we made the choice for DS to go to a co-ed. DS is an only with all cousins bar one male. It seemed a more normal environment. He doesn't have close female friends (he is part of a football every lunchtime group) but he does come home and share snippets of conversation he's had with them.

CannotBakewell Sun 19-Apr-15 19:29:48

Co-ed prep for one DS (there was a particular reason for him to go there); single sex boarding afterwards. Single sex right the way through for the others thus far. Would always choose single sex, even at primary level.

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