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please tell me your views/experiences re single sex education for boys

(14 Posts)
sylar Tue 16-Jun-09 18:23:54

Holding two school places (private not state with full knowledge of both schools before I get flamed)and still can't make up my mind. have to decide this week. DS will start reception in September.

ABetaDad Tue 16-Jun-09 18:53:20

In my view, the perfect education model is the 'Diamond Structure'.

Mixed until the end of Year 6, then Single Sex to 16 (with some mixing for things like choir and drama), then Mixed again for Sixth Form.

My view of single sex boys Pre Prep/Prep is that unless the school is completely on the ball they can be hell for boys who are not the 'sporty' and 'outgoing' type.

Mixed Pre-Prep/Prep is better than single sex as girls have a calming influence. Somewhat unusually, our DS1 and DS2 go to Pre-Prep and Prep which is 90% girls and they love it. They are so much calmer and more positive than when they went to a very boy heavy Pre-Prep/Prep with 30% girls/70% boys.

That said, I know several wonderfull all boys Prep schools which really produce perfectly balanced, civilised boys. It really does depend on the quality of the school though. If the school is not engaged and teachers not on top of the game basically under supervised/under stimulated boys run riot.

sylar Tue 16-Jun-09 19:05:53

I'm a bit concerned since we have two boys and most of our friends have boys too and so they really would be surrounded by boys at all times (apart from me!).

The boys school is selective and very highly regarded and they say boys learn differently to girls and generally girls learn more quickly and that can be demotivating for boys. The school is five minutes from work and means I can collect from school and have afternoons with them.

The mixed school is not selective and seems relaxed and happy but the school (well really the senior school into which it feeds) - does not get great results. The school is 45 minutes from work which means they would be in after school club every night and I would have to cut my hours at work to do school drop off.

I know I'm comparing apples and pears. My underlying concern though is whether single sex is the right thing. Both DH and I went to mixed schools and so we have no direct experience.

ABetaDad Tue 16-Jun-09 19:58:20

Will both of your boys definitely get into the selectve school? What if one gets in and the other does not?

If both can be guaranteed to get in (is there a sibling policy?) then go with the single sex selective boys one as long as you are happy with the discipline and atmosphere. It is a compromise but your life will be a lot easier and it sounds a great school.

By the way, our DS1 and DS2 both love after school care and after school activities so yours might beg to stay on rather than come home to be with you. Ours complain when we pick them up at 5.30 grin

To add girls to the mix try sending them to mixed sex holiday clubs such as Supercamps.

I went to mixed state primary, then single sex senior boys independent school which went slightly mixed in my final 6th form year. DW went mixed state primary and single sex senior girls grammar all the way up.

We deliberately wanted our DSs to stay mixed school all the way up because we think it is important for their future lives to deal with girls on equal terms. However, if a selective single sex was our only real choice we would not have been very unhappy. We would have encouraged plenty of girl mixing in holiday and after school though.

hedgiemum Tue 16-Jun-09 20:34:16

A bit like ABetaDad - our son is Reception in a school which is only mixed pre-prep, so girls outnumber boys. I was very confused about sending him there or to the all boys school. Ultimately, I felt happy with them both as schools, and the mixed school is much more convenient for me (Nearer, and DD goes there). I think convenience for parents needs to come into these decisions, so if I were you I imagine I'd have chosen the boys school.

MollieO Tue 16-Jun-09 22:30:02

Ds is in reception at boys pre-prep and loves it. He is having what is referred to as a 'co-ordinated' education. Girls school in the same ownership so after school care, holiday club and some school activities are combined.

Ime there is a difference between how boys and girls learn and the school is able to teach boys in the style that is best for them - lots of activity. I hadn't intended to send ds to a single sex school but it has worked out to be the best experience for him. There are also some male teachers which there aren't at our local mixed school.

gladders Wed 17-Jun-09 11:31:41

have a ds who is in nursery at a mixed prep school - his sister will follow him.

i like it because they can be together and ultimately, life is not single sex so they do need to learn how to get along! it's a selective school but h a sibling policy - i wanted them to go to the same school.

i agree entirely with the idea that boys learn differently and more slowly than girls. ds has been quite dispirited when he has compared his progress to the girls, and he dislikes being taken away from free play to do 'work'... I also think he would appreciate more sports/PE - this doesn't kick in until Year 1.

So - in your shoes, with 2 ds's i think i'd go for the single sex option if they were both offered places. more convenient for you, but also more suitable to their needs. you can always balance up the gender bias with after school clubs and playdates? and single sex now doesn't have to mean single sex for ever?

GrapefruitMoon Wed 17-Jun-09 11:46:30

Abetadad - what is your view on single sex secondary schools for boys who are not sporty or outgoing - is it less hellish when they are older?

pagwatch Wed 17-Jun-09 11:52:24

My eldest DS1 went to a boys pre-prep then we moved and from 7 to 11 he was at a mixed school. He loathed every minute of it and eventually asked us to let him move when he was 11.

he is nearly 16 now and at a boys school and has again refused the offer to move if he wants to a mixed 6th form.
he has a girlfriend and loads of female friends both from peers siblings and from the two local girls school.

DD is therefore in a girls prep as my one and only concern about single sex schools - that they would struggle with friends ofthe opposite sex - has proved to be a total non issue.

LadyMuck Wed 17-Jun-09 12:59:10

Ds1 has been at a boys school since reception and has thrived. They concentrate on reading and maths initially knowing that writing tends to come a bit later for some boys. Loads of physical activity, and if for example a boy is playing up in class then the teacher is just as likely to get them to run round the playground 3 times as to apply some other sanction. Competition is very much part of life. I would say that it probably tends to have more "boisterous" boys than average, and works very well for these boys. Although the class teachers for the early years are maternal female types, there are plenty of male sports teachers around form the start, and towards the later years many of the teachers are male.

Ds2 started at the same school, but I have since moved him to a smaller mixed school. It didn't really suit his personality and he was one of the smallest in his year, so I could tell that he would struggle from Year 3 when team sports are very competitive. He prefers imaginative play, and often plays with dolls, so a testosterone fueled school was not for him! He has gone from having just one friend who was rather quiet in he boys school to being a very popular member of his class at the mixed school.

FWIW I think that it is also worth looking carefully at the relative size of schools. Ds2 is now at a single-form entry mixed school, but the boy-girl ratio can fluctuate severely between years.

ABetaDad Wed 17-Jun-09 17:56:41

Grapefruitmoon - well I went single sexed boarding school between 12 - 18 and was sporty but not outgoing. I loved it but sport was how I made my place in the school -not by being the life and soul of the party. The only downside to it was I did feeling a little bit awkward around girls for a while but did not last long.

It sounds a cliche but if sport is a really big thing in a singe sex boys school at senior level, as it was in the old fashioned boarding school I went to 35 years ago, then being an unsporty introvert boy is really not the thing to be. It was just about possible to get away with it in my school by being a day boy just coming to school at 8.45 and leaving at 3.30 and maybe taking part in choir and being very academic - but if you were a day boy it really did mean you were not part of the school life and had no friends there. The day boys at my school generally made friends outside the school or just other day boys.

My more modern view after looking after lots and lots of Prep and Senior independent schools for DSs is that some single sex boys schools are still like my old school at senior level and especially if they still have a large boarding element. However, most single sex boys schools now have much bigger day boy elements (often no boarding at all) and if you pick one of those and your DS is very willing to get involved in after school activities other than sport they can get a lot out of it, not feel left out and become quite popular.

Some schools really do not major on sport so much and are quiet driven by academic/performing arts and picking one of those might also suit DS better. Sport is still likely to be a big element of the schools that used to be traditional boarding schools but they have increasingly gone mixed so even that traditional 'macho' rugby playing school is not really as prevalent as it used to be.

Picking a school that truely and equally values other talents other than sport is really crucial though if your DS is not sporty. Getting involved after school is a big part of the enjoyment of school in my view.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Wed 17-Jun-09 18:29:24

Good posts from BD, and echo the thing re sport. We have chosen the diamond pattern for our boys (didn't know there was a term for it!!) and tehy get lots of contact with girls outside school at scouts etc where ist is not just socialising but also interacting and team work.

Metella Wed 17-Jun-09 18:52:06

The dcs started out in a mixed school and are now in a boys school. It suits ds2 who is boisterous and sporty.

I am currently looking for a senior school for ds1 who is a gentle, arty, musical soul and I am tending towards mixed schools as I think it will suit him better. It's horses for courses really. But single sex education really doesn't suit some boys.

happilyconfused Wed 17-Jun-09 19:01:29

We're diamond for boy and girl. We are also taking the 'diamond approach' for choice of sectors.

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