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Pros and cons of single gender education

(29 Posts)
Keepcalmanddrinktea Sun 14-Jun-15 07:16:56

I really need some advice on this, we are on the move for a job relocation, my DH and I both work full time and will have no other choice than an send DD, 5 in December, to an independent girl school. School is lovely and will definitely care for her needs (she is bright but very shy); school has very high results for y6 with most girls landing a place in the local grammar school.....also only for DH is not worried at all, only sees the educational side, which tbh I cannot fault, but DD is an only child and despite we have few friends with boys only one is her age.
She loves still boy things (Thomas the tank engine, octonauts, Spider-Man...) and I am really scared she will suffer of not having contact with boys at all over all her education (well provided she will go to the grammar school)

What do you think? AIBU to think she will miss out on something?

Seriouslyffs Sun 14-Jun-15 07:23:28

Girls do better educationally in single Sex schools and the evidence socially is all around. Can you compensate socially? Join clubs,
do you have extended family with boys?
I went to a mixed crappy comp
and not in an oo boys, I want a boyfriend way but in an attention seeking disruptive in lessons, I can't face the barrage of catcalls if I ask a question way.

Seriouslyffs Sun 14-Jun-15 07:24:56

Sorry I missed out the relevant fact that I found boys very distracting.

Springtimemama Sun 14-Jun-15 07:32:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

merrymouse Sun 14-Jun-15 07:41:10

Positive: Pupils don't divide along gender lines - more room for girls to just be themselves.

Negative: All girls can be a bit intense.

fairyqueen Sun 14-Jun-15 07:47:48

My DD is at single sex. Girls are probably more able to be themselves than at mixed as they are not expected to conform to gender roles. It's all very feminist too. DD thrives on it, and all her friends seem to love it too. There is a fair amount of snogging that goes on on the road between her school and the boys school too!

Keepcalmanddrinktea Sun 14-Jun-15 08:00:50

We have no other option as we are moving now and leaving a place in reception in a normal state school (outstanding so even harder).
I shall look for that piece of research sprintimemama or do you remember where it was published?
There are Cubs and beavers group where we are moving, will defo look into that (ah, just notice, no brownies groups so perhaps I am not the only one!)

I must say, at nursery she plays a lot with some boys (those quite) but looks horrified when boys scream jump are loud, which honestly I find quite cute as I have a little girl and was a bit of a tomb boy myself, so I kind of like the typical boy behaviour (sorry should not put labels or else)...
I hope she will be fine, def will encourage her to join the Cubs, she is very shy, the school has a strong pastoral care and nurturing environment so she will be fine, but life is tough and I honestly (my DH thinks I am crazy) I have a secret fear that because deprived of seeing regularly boys will once she hits teenager age get all confused and either become socially inept to forge a relationship or get to wanting to know them too quickly IYKWIM!!!!

One very worried mama here, daddy is totally surprise though, I think he looses a heartbeat every time I mention boys and his little princess in a future scenario smile

Springtimemama Sun 14-Jun-15 08:22:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Springtimemama Sun 14-Jun-15 08:25:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Keepcalmanddrinktea Sun 14-Jun-15 08:49:03

LOL! I chuckled at your last sentence fairyqueen, thank you so much everybody, feeling a little calmer now.
Thank you springtimemama will have a look at those researches

Mopmay Sun 14-Jun-15 18:49:09

Surely there are state school alternatives though? Maybe look first? I wouldn't do it but then I have a girl who hates dresses and princesses. I'd never get her in the uniform all the girls schools near us have lol. She'd hate being in an all girl environment. She mainly plays with boys and boyish girls. Luckily her school is huge too

Nowfeeltheneedtopost Sun 14-Jun-15 19:28:02

I'm slightly nervous about posting because it appears you have made the decision already? But, given you did ask, I'm afraid I would say that I have developed a strong preference for co-ed having seen my (now y3) daughter at her mixed primary. I think co-ed gives children more flexibility to be who they are rather than conform to stereotypes or peer pressure. We've had some friendship issues amongst the girls in my DD's class this year and when they get her down she takes herself off and plays football with the boys (and girls) playing football. She's also very good at maths and there's been absolutely no suggestion of this being a "boy" thing. I went to a single sex secondary and always assumed (because of research I had read about educational achievements for girls) that I would send her to the all girls state secondary near us but I have changed my mind and, at the moment, would definitely think a co-ed would suit her better.
I appreciate you may not have a choice to go co-ed now but your DD is still young so you may change your mind as to what suits her for secondary.

MMmomKK Sun 14-Jun-15 21:19:19

Dd1 was very shy and quiet before starting school. And she was not into anything "girly" - she would not wear a dress, loved Thomas books, wanted to go to space.

Four years in all-girls school has done wonders for her confidence. No one believes she spent a year in the nursery not talking to strangers (including teachers or any children.

MMmomKK Sun 14-Jun-15 21:29:52

Posted too soon...

She also loves math and doesn't think of subjects or activities as "boys'" or "girls'" ones.

Her sister started in YR the same school this year. She is into superheros and considers herself a tomboy. And she also likes math and thinks science is cool.

Meanwhile, friends' daughter in a mixed school is very clear - only boys are good at math and science is boring...

It is probably all school/teacher specific. Main thing is that you feel that the school she is going to is right for your child.

Dd1 would have been lost in a more lively co-ed class in YR and Y1. By now (Y3) she is robust enough, so could do it, if we had to. Dd2 would have done OK with co-ed from the start, but we love our current school.

Keepcalmanddrinktea Mon 15-Jun-15 08:06:17

Nice to hear that MMmomKK my little one loves science and maths too, they will do some coding too at her school which we are really excited about (we are both scientists but not the IT side) and she loves arts too, it was amazing to see her future art classes though.....they were sawing wood, filing it etc, drilling to insert axis for wheels....amazing, it was book day when we visited and there were in that year (y4) still lots of princesses, I loved seeing the girls free to express so freely, yet being completely absorbed in "boyish" tasks!

Mopmay Mon 15-Jun-15 09:14:08

Our state mixed coed does all of this. All DC do coding. It's part of the curriculum now.

Millymollymama Mon 15-Jun-15 10:32:56

I had one of my DDs at the co-ed junior school near us and my youngest DD at an all girls prep school. They both went to an all girls boarding school. I would say they are both well adjusted to life! The girls prep school had big advantages over the local co-ed junior school but not because it was all girls! It was just a much better school with significantly more opportunities for the girls to shine. The co-ed junior school had a big thing about football and cross country running. Quite a lot of teacher time was spent calming down boisterous boys. However, DD1 loved it and I was always hearing that X boy was in trouble again! She didn't play with the boys or count any as her friends, but some were a huge source of amusement, not least because they were quick witted and funny!

I do think many girls choose to be friends with girls when they are a bit older and the boys go off and do other things. I am now a governor at a co-ed junior school and at playtime I rarely see mixed groups of boys and girls playing together. They seem to drift apart and the games they play tend to attract the boys or the girls. At boarding school I was happy to find my daughters were introduced to the brothers, and boys who were family friends, of their classmates. Girls, if they want to, really do find a way to mix with boys. I think very few girls educated in girls schools feel they missed out on boys. If the school you wish to go to suits your DD in every other respect, I would choose it for these reasons and not reject it because of no boys on the premises.

FrozenAteMyDaughter Mon 15-Jun-15 11:27:41

I was educated at an all girls school from 5 to 18 and I loved it and am still friends with some of the girls (now women obv) from there many years later (too many).

I loved boy things and was a tomboy my entire childhood, starting at 3 when I refused to wear a dress to my party, and wanted to be a boy pretty much until my teenage years. It didn't make me unhappy at school though - i probably was always friends with the sportier girls though, rather than those into make up and boys, but there was no shortage of those.

The best thing about it looking back now was that no subject was a boys' subject they were all just subjects. So I and several of my friends studied all sciences at A level without any comment from anyone. Also, we carried on enjoying sport right until the end of school and didn't really care what we looked like in the classroom afterwards (maybe this isn't an issue at co-ed schools either but something is putting girls off sport in their teens).

To counteract the single sex life I had at school, I joined mixed activities outside of school once I was older. In my day, and with my interests, it was Venture Scouts and a sailing/canoeing club, but obviously there are loads of options out there. Nowadays, you have the advantage of being able to put girls into Beavers/Cubs so you can get mixed sex socialising at an earlier age. This will be useful as your DD is an only child (I have a younger brother so was used to boys being just the same as everyone else rather than anything special).

My DD is now at a mixed sex primary school and that's fine I think while they're little, but I will do everything in my power to get her into a single sex secondary unless, by that age, it is clear that she would benefit from a mixed sex environment (can't imagine that being likely, but you never know).

FrozenAteMyDaughter Mon 15-Jun-15 11:38:21

Sorry - I just realised my post doesn't really have a point. The point was that all girls' schooling doesn't have to be a bad thing, nor will it necessarily create the stereotype of boy-crazed teenagers let loose at 16 or 18 to go on the rampage.

Educationally, I think it can create an excellent environment for girls and, socially, it just means being a bit careful to get your DD involved in mixed-sex activities if possible.

On that score, I think the advantage of cubs, scouts etc for an only child, or any child, is that, because they go camping together, the children get to mix, not just for an hour or two every Saturday, but for a weekend, week or fortnight (as they get older) for 24 hour periods. So the girls see that boys can be scared of the dark and storms (say) just as they might be, and the boys see that girls can enjoy doing scary and challenging activities just as they do (or more than them), and so the stereotypes they build up, starting at nursery often, of what boys and girls are like and what they enjoy, can be broken down.

MN164 Mon 15-Jun-15 12:43:51

There isn't great comprehensive research out there, but there are some useful pieces.

This is helpful. They talk about results, gender stereotye subject choices and later life earnings and marriage rates.

The more negative stuff I have noted revolves around the contemporaty research on bullying and sexual harassment by the DoE and NSPCC - there is less bullying in single sex girls schools than any other format and, unsurprisingly, the alarming rates of sexual harassment of 11-16 year olds in school does not occur in girls schools. Whilst these are very "alarmist" statistics, there are, seemingly, increasing concerns.

My gut feeling is that there is a lot expected of young girls to "stand up" for themselves against a implicitly and increasingly misogynist adolescent boy cohort - and whilst some will be confident that their girls can do this some will not and will look at girls schools as a "refuge" or safe place for girls to develop confidence before having to deal with this stuff. If it isn't normalised in early adolescence it won't be allowed or tolerated later on.

I don't think there is a wrong decision here, just one that you need to make in light of your child's personality and with eyes wide open to modern teenage culture.

mrsvilliers Mon 15-Jun-15 14:44:50

OP I was sent co-ed as my parents both went to single sex. I was completely boy mad and basically ended up underachieving as a result which I do regret. I will most likely consider single sex for dd when the time comes. Interestingly, the boys that I ended up 'hanging out with' ;) were from other schools met in the park or met through after school clubs. Very interested to hear the sexual harrassment and bullying research I have to say.

MN164 Mon 15-Jun-15 16:24:41

One example based on widespread statistics in the UK. Plenty of others if you dig. Journalists don't seem to pick up on this data - they prefer to highlight the strong opposing opinions and anecdotes. Data like this just tends to give a "right answer" which is boring and not newsworthy.

Extract from page 73/74

"However, girls in girls’ schools were significantly less likely to be bullied in this way than girls at mixed schools at all three ages (see Figure 14.5 below). This appears to indicate that girls attending single-sex schools are less vulnerable than other girls to what is the most common type of bullying overall, particularly among girls. Relationship between name calling and pupil gender of school. We also found a statistically significant relationship between the pupil gender of a school and the violence-related types of bullying: threats of violence and actual violence. Again, these analyses showed little difference for boys between attending a mixed-sex or single-sex school, but the results for girls were quite markedly different. For both threats of violence and actual violence (as with overall bullying), girls attending all-girls’ schools were less likely to be bullied in these ways at the ages of 14 and 16 than girls attending mixed schools. These results therefore indicate that all-girls’ schools appear to be safer environments for girls than mixed-sex schools,particularly in terms of protecting them from violence. "

Millymollymama Mon 15-Jun-15 18:02:41

Girls are far more subtle than threatening violence or actually being violent!

ppolly Mon 15-Jun-15 19:13:40

I went to a single sex school and was bullied verbally the whole way through. I ended up very shy, with no self-confidence and totally unable to talk to boys. That said, I suspect I might have been bullied at a co-ed school too.

MN164 Tue 16-Jun-15 08:37:22

"Girls are far more subtle than threatening violence or actually being violent!"

I'm sure this is true. However, there is no evidence I can find that mixing them with boys makes girls behave "better" amongst themselves or with boys. The idea that having boys around somehow weakens a girl's ability to be "mean" (i.e. bully) is false (in my opinion). The evidence supports my opinion.

I often hear people say "Girls are much worse in an all girl environment. I went to a girls school, I should know.". The problem is you only know your own experience - a data set of 1, plus a few close friends.

The data and evidence point to a strong correlation between boys at school and various issues for girls, both academic and pastoral.

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