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Girls school vs. mixed? Which would you choose?

(140 Posts)
MothershipG Fri 05-Oct-12 07:12:21

I went to a girls school and feel I did better than I would have done in a mixed school, although as there is only one of me I obviously have no way of proving this!

My DD is in Yr6 and has the choice of single-sexed or mixed.

If we count other factors as equal which would you choose?

AllPastYears Fri 05-Oct-12 12:44:05

"I have a DD and a DS, and our city has both excellent single-sex state schools and an excellent mixed state school. I like the idea of them both going to the same school, not travelling to different parts of the city to go to single-sex schools. "

My brother and I went to different, single-sex schools. Some of the journey was along the same route, but we never ever deliberately chose the same bus or sat next to each other on the bus, and only rarely acknowledged each other! A bit of freedom from your sibling can be nice. grin

lljkk Fri 05-Oct-12 12:44:46

I am thinking I will end up with DC at 3 different secondaries simultaneously, too; I envision hassle in keeping track of transport arrangements & policy differences, timetable variations, big variations in who to talk to about any queries & variable GCSE schedules (but those evolve constantly anyway!). Harder to remember names of their teachers, too.

SoupDragon Fri 05-Oct-12 12:44:59

For those posters whose kids go to single-sex schools, does anyone have a boy and a girl? What's it like having them at different schools?

I have two boys at a single sex secondary school. DD is still in Primary and I envisage having her in a different secondary to the middle boy will be no worse than it is now - better as she will be independent. DS1 will have left for Uni when she starts [wail] so I'll have 3 in 3 different places smile

ChicMama25 Fri 05-Oct-12 12:47:18

Single sex DEFINITELY. I went to one and it was great until they let boys come in the sixth form (all the girls got competitive and it wasnt fun anymore and we got less learning done)

phlebas Fri 05-Oct-12 12:50:36

My brother & I went to different (obviously!) single sex schools & my sister another girls' school. I have four children & I don't think any of them will end up at the same school.

aliportico Fri 05-Oct-12 13:21:00

As I said above, I have three at three different schools. People do comment on it, but it seems to be a complete non-issue to me. They all get themselves there. I suppose I can't hand down uniform.

But then I only went to the same school as my younger brother for a couple of terms when he started school, and when I joined his school for sixth form, so it's not something that seems automatic to me.

maebyfunke Fri 05-Oct-12 13:28:53

My DD1 has just started at a single sex school. It was by far our favourite school. I do like the fact that subjects are not thought of as boys subjects and girls subjects especially as DD's interests are in Science and Maths.
At the moment she is happy to be without boys, may change in a few years!

MothershipG Fri 05-Oct-12 13:43:29

Another interesting article on girls and Physics in the Guardian.

To derail my own thread - when faced with the same choice for my DS I felt very strongly that he would do better in a mixed enviroment, it seemed like a much more clearcut decision for him.

mnistooaddictive Fri 05-Oct-12 14:06:24

Wow, I am truly amazed how many people think single sex. I wonder iof the proportions would have been the same if she was asking about her son.

Pagwatch Fri 05-Oct-12 14:08:20

my answer would have been the same.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 14:13:21

We might have thought differently if we'd had a son - DH went to an all-boys school and didn't rate the experience. Although the best schools academically round here are single sex, be it state or private, so maybe we'd have used them - they are paired with girls' schools unlike his.

SoupDragon Fri 05-Oct-12 14:15:21

^ I wonder iof the proportions would have been the same if she was asking about her son.^

I have boys at single sex school so yes smile

lottiegarbanzo Fri 05-Oct-12 14:33:05

Thing is Takver it wasn't by chance that I had a good experience at a large, mixed, academically focused comp. It was clear from before I went that a child like me should do well at a school like that. There is no 'average school' exemplifying all national statistics. There are good schools and crap schools of all sorts and schools that suit or do not suit a particular child. The point must be to assess and ask questions of the particular school.

I know women who went to girls' schools that were more focused on social exclusivity and, essentially, turning out nice, marriagable young ladies, than on academic standards. They were ill-equipped to thrive at university and lack confidence as a result. That, surely, is treating girls as a second sex.

My school had its quirks. Former grammar school teachers operated informal elites and while academic children thrived, competent middle-ability ones may not have done. Woodwork or design weren't subjects that anyone expecting to do A-levels would have taken for example, so snobbery rather than sexism prevailed.

A point I always end up at in discussions on education is that the peer group is enormously important, creating a culture at least as strong as the school's own. Large schools host multiple peer groups. Who is your dd friends with and where will they go? Who is she likely to become friends with at other schools? What are their values? Those are questions I'd be thinking about.

Takver Fri 05-Oct-12 14:45:16

I absolutely agree that different schools will suit different children.

TBH, I suspect for most parents/children, its a matter of choosing from a very small no. of options. I went to the girls' school because the usual school my primary fed to was full that year, my parents weren't religious, and I wasn't a boy; that narrowed the options to two - and the other fed 95% from its sister primary.

Ditto with dd; she has the option of Welsh language (mixed) or English language (mixed), and that's it.

So I guess all these conversations have to assume that there is actually a genuine choice between a good mixed school & a good single sex one, so I imagine is really only relevant for people in large towns/cities.

mumsneedwine Fri 05-Oct-12 14:56:32

Personally I prefer mixed schools, and have never seen this supposed gender bias on science and maths (have A Levels in them and a degree and was never told they were

DoIDare Fri 05-Oct-12 15:49:24

I know it is probably not something we consider when we make applications when they are ten, but doyou think gay teenagers have a harder time in single sex schools?

I am in a mixed environment where an 'out' student barely causes a ripple. Are single sexed schools as inclusive?

MothershipG Fri 05-Oct-12 16:27:19

I don't even know if my DD will want to do Physics, never mind what her sexuality will be!!! smile

As for choice, my DC's choices are greatly reduced because of their parents atheism but in both cases there has been the option of 1 mixed vs. 1 single sex school.

I don't know tbh. I went to a single sex school and going by my experiences I think the last thing any one would have done there was come out. I don't know anyone in my year who was. I knew I was bi at school, but there's no way I would have said so, which tbh is a bit weird as on the whole it was a very inclusive school and I can't really think of any instances of bullying. It's difficult to judge though, I was there 25 years ago, things are a lot better now I hope! I would imagine that that sort of tolerance would depend on the school ethos and teaching staff, rather than whether it's mixed or not.

teacherwith2kids Fri 05-Oct-12 18:06:25

Have only skimmed the thread, but I viewed both all boys and mixed schools for DS.

We all - DH, who went to an all boys school, I, who went to an all girls one, and DS who was at a mixed primary - hated the all-boys schools FOR MY DS. They were just all too macho and 'boys learn differently' and 'boys don't care about their environment', with lots of horseplay in the corridors .... DS is a very sporty, but also very bright boy, who hates disorder, shies away from physical horseplay and loves the balancing influence of girls in his environment.

DD is a different kettle of fish, and might well thrive in a single sex school BUT she is very straightforward and upset by birchiness or friendship issues. She is a devoted ballet dancer ... but also a Cub who likes nothing more than campoing for a weekend without waching or brishing her hair...Again, I think that she would miss the balance that boys bring to the environment, and she's far too strong minded to be influenced by the 'girls don't do Physics' type argument, unless it is to be determined to break the mould, do Physics and beat all the boys at it....

Copthallresident Fri 05-Oct-12 18:27:25


Actually at DDs' single sex school it seems that coming out as bi/ gay is almost more common than intuitively you can believe to be a profound life changing decision, it is easy to do and experimenting with your sexuality is alright, cool even. I have to say that the same applied back in the 70s ( but then maybe David Bowie had a lot to do with that).

However in both DDs' friendship groups there are boys at neighbouring boys and mixed schools who have clearly arrived at a lifechanging decision to come out as gay and it has been heartwarming to see the support they have had from their friendship groups. In fact when some prats from the boys school decided to post something homophobic on their Facebook page to big themselves up they were socially ostracised by pupils from the boys' and girls' school and excluded from the joint prom. DDs gay friend is never treated differently by his peers, included in holidays etc. and he was happily included in both the girls' and boys' photos for prom! He actually felt able to come out at school before he did so at home and his (lovely) Mum dispairing of him owning up and having read somewhere that it is much easier to get your child to open up if you don't have eye contact, put a teatowel over her head and asked if there was anything he wanted to say. Brilliant!!

Copthallresident Fri 05-Oct-12 18:48:20

Takver Both my DDs have A*s in RMT (I hope I can safely brag about this one without appearing smug) and it is incredibly popular in their single sex school, and why not? Design and useful practical skills. They loved it and every year their amazing creations are on show to the school . Please somebody get that stupid teacher to come and look!

Takver Fri 05-Oct-12 21:23:09

Congratulations to your dds, Copthall smile Agree, why on earth should girls not want to learn this stuff confused - even given there seemed to be a lot of farm machinery stuff going on, plenty of girls round here (including dd) are likely to want to fix a tractor in the course of their life.

BackforGood Fri 05-Oct-12 22:28:33

I have a ds at a boys' and dd at a girls' school. Not specifically chosen for the fact they were single sex, but because, at the time of choosing, a whole combination of factors made them the best choice for my dc.
One real bonus, is that dd (the 2nd dc) has been able to establish herself as being "her" in her own right, and not had to start of life as ds's sister. Indeed, we are trying to decide what school to put for dc3 (currently in Yr6) and I would have no qualms about her going to yet a 3rd school if that were the right school for her. There's something very wrong in my mind about conciously choosing a school that suits your dc1, and then just expecting the others to follow suit, even though another school might have been chosen if they were your eldest.

Back to the single sex / co-ed thing though, it depends so much on the school and the personality of the child. My oldest 2 are both very happy in their schools. All my dc though mix with all sorts of people outside of school in all the activities they do, I don't recognise this "not knowing how to speak to / react to / be with people who are a different gender from you" that you read about on MN every time this question is asked. School is only one part of my dcs lives.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 23:41:21

>I don't recognise this "not knowing how to speak to / react to / be with people who are a different gender from you"

perhaps kids now do more out-of-school activities and they are more likely to be mixed than in previous generations?

Everhopeful Sat 06-Oct-12 00:54:21

It depends on your child. I hated my single sex school and reckon there were probably lots of opportunities on offer there that I missed because I SO didn't want to be there blush. It was the one time I really fell out with my mum! I wasn't reckoning to send dd to a single-sex school, but that's what she wants and I will make it possible. Just as we would have sent her to Guides for a bit of a break if she was in a mixed school, we've started her in a mixed organisation instead, to make sure there's a bit of balance (she doesn't have brothers, so I do worry about this).

She's been adamant from the first that she wanted a single-sex school and has stuck with it, despite loving some of the mixed schools we've been round, so it's nothing to do with what they offer. What can you do? It won't hurt her and, if it does allow her freedom from the industrial quantities of makeup I see in the mixed schools (most of them are girls...I think) and a better focus on her studies, she'll gain academically what she risks losing socially. Duke of Edinburgh will take care of some of it anyway.

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