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All Girls' Secondary Schools? Opinions please

(72 Posts)
Ilikesweetpeas Sun 25-Sep-16 18:57:59

We are in the process of considering which secondary school to choose for our daughter. We have the option of an all girls' school, or a mixed school. Both ofsted outstanding, both get great results and are highly thought of. After viewing both I'm surprised to think I like the girls' school best but I've always thought I wouldnt want a single sex school for her. I'd love to hear other people experiences of all girls' schools as parents or pupils. Thanks in advance

Wellywife Sun 25-Sep-16 19:05:51

Hi. I went to a girl's school and loved it. My DC had the option of a mixed grammar school or single sex ones and both chose single sex schools and a very happy with their choices.

People on here will talk about high stress, anorexia and self harm in all-girls schools and also bitchiness. Hand on heart I haven't come across this either myself nor at DD's school.

Ilikesweetpeas Sun 25-Sep-16 19:12:05

Thank you, they were the things I was worried about so good to hear that neither you nor your DC experienced this.

DoctorDonnaNoble Sun 25-Sep-16 19:22:58

I hated my all girls school for all the above reasons.
I hated my time training in an all girls comp (due to a few bitchy girls but mainly the teachers and SLT).
However, I teach in an all boys school that I love (we have girls join us in sixth form). Ink don't think you can actually make a sweeping judgement. The problems I had at secondary could have happened at any type of school (and do).
If you, and your child, prefer the single sex school, go for it!

Ilikesweetpeas Sun 25-Sep-16 19:36:37

Thanks Doctor, I didn't expect to like the school so much! Went along to the open evening because we decided that we wouldn't rule anywhere out without looking but the feel of it was great. DD is 9 so we don't decide this year and she hasn't been to look anywhere yet but it's good to hear people's experiences

Helenluvsrob Sun 25-Sep-16 19:40:36

Just asked dd2 if she would choose single sex or mixed school if she was choosing again ( she's 17) - and she says definitely single sex. It's " just easier" apparently to function without boys " annoying you"!

HPFA Sun 25-Sep-16 19:45:54

This from DD (12) who is at all girls:
An all girls is better because you can work better without boys and all the girls are very pleasant and keen to make friends. All girls schools are much more inclusive and work very hard on developing oracy and leadership skills. Overall they are fantastic with a brilliant work ethic and exciting opportunities with a nice community feel.

DD sounds like she's quoting the school prospectus there!! But we are very happy with the school and whilst some of the girls inevitably do seem to play at relationship dramas it seems easy for other girls to stay out of them if they want to. If both you and your daughter like that school then there's no reason not to go for it.

booellesmum Sun 25-Sep-16 19:53:31

Both DDs are at an all girls school and love it. They chose to go there - despite knowing I had not liked going to the same all girls school. It really depends on the individual child. Look at all the options, write lists of pros and cons for each school and take time deciding. If you do go for the all girls option I would definitely advocate something social outside of school where there are boys - scouts/sailing/trampolining etc.

Ilikesweetpeas Sun 25-Sep-16 20:32:23

Really good to get the perspective of girls - thank you

PettsWoodParadise Sun 25-Sep-16 20:51:15

DD did boys to Y3 and was glad to leave them behind. Don't shoot me but she found them disruptive and childish. Talking to friends who have both boys and girls they say girls mature faster than boys, then boys do catch up so it is good they often mix in sixth form when they are back on an even footing. DD has just started at an all girls secondary and some warned me about bitchyness but so far the girls have all been mega supportive of each other and DD has had a greater opportunity to find like minded friends as all are girls. She has some out of school clubs that are more heavily boy centred so she isn't totally in a boy desert. I didn't exclude co-ed schools when looking round, but for us the girls only ones seemed the best fit.

Casbotsproudmum Sun 25-Sep-16 21:30:24

My dd, yr 8, love her state girl school. I do slightly worry about future no-interaction -with-boys but to be honest, right now both dh and I quite like the idea! She is more secure, happy and herself then she was in her mixed state primary and I wouldn't change it for the world. Yes, it is certain aspects I don't like with 30 girls in a class but they all spurs eachother on I don't think she would get in the local mixed school. The results is better in single sex aswell.

bojorojo Sun 25-Sep-16 21:31:15

DD 1 went to an all girls school from age 11 and never once missed the boys she left behind. Also, school is only so many hours a days for 38 weeks of the year so there is plenty of time for boys if need be. DD1 started to enjoy their company at about age 15/16 but they were carefully chosen, (by her) and had the same interests. This is why they gelled and she did not need to be taught alongside the annoying ones! That said, some girls are annoying too!

I do think some teachers can still expect boys to do better in STEM subjects and girls can be put off by this so being taught in a girls only environment can have advantages. It does not mean, in any way, that the girls are unable to cope with boys as they go through their teens but being able to choose which boys they get along with outside school is a bonus.

My DD2 went to an all girls prep and then girls senior school. She enjoyed this environment as much as her sister. It is true that in all schools there can be pressure to pass exams, pressure to look good (boys and girls can be judgemental) and in all schools pupils will be supportive of each other. We did change DD2 for 6th form - to another all girls school! (Subject driven). We looked at lots of co-ed schools but in the end she chose the one that had the best track record in her subjects and not the ones with boys!

Therefore, go with your instinct and if it is all girls and your DD will fit in, then do not worry.

flupcake Sun 25-Sep-16 22:34:39

Very interesting posts - thank you, as we are having a similar dilemma. DD has decided she wants to go all-girls, which has surprised me. I want to make sure this isn't just a whim that she will regret in a year or two.

People always say to me 'girls schools are more bitchy' but I never know if this is true or just one of those assumptions that gets repeated.
DD likes STEM subjects, so I can see how she would have more freedom to do well in these subjects in an all girls environment.

Leeds2 Sun 25-Sep-16 23:37:35

My DD has just finished her A Levels at an all girls school. Her choice. I would've chosen co-ed. She says being in an all girls school meant there was no pressure to be "fully made up" every morning, and that you could be a bit of a slob without undue comment being made.

Self harm and eating disorders were a problem. I suspect they are in most girls' schools. Some years seemed to be much more badly affected than others,

EllyMayClampett Sun 25-Sep-16 23:48:41

We chose an all girls school for our DD (12) because it was the best all round school available to us for her. She was keen to go there, and enjoys being in class without boys. She gets along well with the other girls we are having less drama, fewer friendship worries, and less bitchiness than when she was at a coed school (could just be the individual schools.)

When she was in classes with boys she felt (wrongly or rightly) that they had more of the teachers' time and attention which now is available for her and her female classmates.

I'd pick the school that felt "right." Being single sex, is just one characteristic of a school. You have to look at the whole package and decide if it is the best fit for your DD. I certainly wouldn't be put off by a single sex school on idealogical grounds.

Needmoresleep Mon 26-Sep-16 09:54:28

DD was co-ed all the way through which is unusual for someone in the London private school system. It is not something she, or we, regretted for a minute.

A major reason was because she is dyslexic and good at maths/science but weak in English. So co-ed suited her as it is a profile that is more common amongst boys. Yr 8 English teaching was great for her as there was more targetting at children who rarely read books and needed at bit of a page turner. She is also sporty and not very good at girl politics. Girls in Yr7 & Yr8 can be quite nasty (after that they have formed their friendship groups and tend to leave each other alone.) Boys at the same age tend to be less sophisticated, but also stay out of the girl politics. Which meant that if there were problems with the girls, there was always a straight forward boy to sit with in class or at lunch.

Our experience was also that there was a much more matter of fact attitude towards boys. Girls at all girl schools often seemed boy mad and it appeared to be important to have a boyfriend to take to parties etc. Far fewer parties at the co-ed, and as they got older they tended to hang out in a group as mates without feeling any pressure to pair up. And no giggly behaviour and pretending not to be bright, when in the presence of boys. Indeed the opposite. Top maths and science sets were generally boy-heavy, but the girls stuck together and were determined to show they were equal to, if not better than the boys.

cingolimama Mon 26-Sep-16 10:17:06

My DD goes to a girls school, and loves it. She's totally blossomed in many ways - academically and socially and is much more confident and resilient.

All the evidence points to girls doing better academically at a girls only school. Yes, I know girls can do well at mixed. But in general, for whatever reasons, girls do better. There are no "boys" subjects - everything is open to them. When I toured the mixed secondary option (an outstanding school), I asked the Physics teacher how many girls in his GCSE class? and he said 3 (out of 28). Enough said.

The other thing is that there is a real problem of sexism and misogyny among boys at secondary. Girls have to routinely deal with dismissive, suggestive and abusive verbal insults. There's the real possibility of sexual assault. I know the latter point seems melodramatic and alarmist, but I was shocked by recent statistics about rape in secondary schools. Next to that, girlish cattiness and bitchery seems emminentaly deal-able-with.

nocampinghere Mon 26-Sep-16 10:27:49

I think you have to choose whichever suits your dd best.

I have a DD in yr8 in a selective co-ed school. She loves it. She finds the boys funny, they lighten the mood. She struggles with a lot of the girls (not really into clothes, or make up, or selfies/instagram etc..). She isn't boy obsessed or a flirt. One thing i hadn't thought about was the male teachers - she really prefers them. There's less of a "perfect girl" environment.

DD2 however, will probably go to all girls. She finds the boys noisy, over dominating and annoying at primary. She is good with girls. She likes gym & dance & trampolining. She will like home economics (or whatever it is called) which is missing in DD1's school. She is more maths focused than English/Humanities and i don't want her put off that. (DD1 wouldn't be put off anything, DD2 could i think).

So a co-ed school was definitely the right choice for DD1. So only you can decide. One isn't necessarily better.

DoctorDonnaNoble Mon 26-Sep-16 10:29:27

I think the 'bitchy' thing could be rephrased as some girls aren't nice (just as some boys aren't) maybe it's more noticeable in a single sex environment.
I found my own experience to be very intense and difficult. But then, I don't think it would have been easier at the other options open to me. I was a difficult teenager and I know that schools are MUCH better at dealing with that now than they were 20 years ago (!!!!! Gosh I'm old when did that happen).

nocampinghere Mon 26-Sep-16 10:33:53

I do also agree with *needmoresleep" re boy obsessed. Dds friends who have gone to all girls' schools seem to be quite obsessed with getting a boyfriend or going to parties to "mingle". Ones you wouldn't expect to be at yr6.

DD however is with boys all day. There is no pressure to pair up or to try and meet boys.

PerspicaciaTick Mon 26-Sep-16 10:38:09

I think that girls' friendships can be very intense, either BFFs or the worst enemies. Having said that it isn't any worse at DD's single sex secondary than it was at her mixed primary school. In fact there is less pressure to conform to stereotypes at her single sex school as there are so many girls finding their own ways to be girls (and some great older role models).

MsWazowski Mon 26-Sep-16 10:47:56

DD has done both. She went to a mixed school until GCSEs and is now at 6th form in a girl's school, entirely her choice. She found it a relief to get away from the boys, as a previous poster mentioned, less pressure to wear make up etc.

I think there's probably some kind of bitchiness at all schools, boys can be just as bad as girls. DD did find some of the boys quite disruptive, which appears to be accepted as 'boys will be boys'.

She's thriving at her girl's school, no regrets.

Needmoresleep Mon 26-Sep-16 10:55:35

"All the evidence points to girls doing better academically at a girls only school."

The great MN chestnut, but noone every gives links to evidence that confirms that all girls do better as single sex schools. One of the all-girls school closest to the co-ed DD went to, had a reputation for being seriously competitive. Girls would openly discuss who was bright or not and (some) mothers would be equally happy to tell me which girls were struggling. Plus all sorts of pressure about clothes, and having a boyfriend. Lots of girls thrived but we know at least a couple in DDs year group who were seriously unhappy. And no evidence to show that DDs peers did any better than she did, despite having been selected at 11. Actually the reverse, with anecdotal evidence to suggest that top sets in her co-ed moved at a faster pace in maths and science than the all-girls equivalent.

In short single sex suits cingolimama's DD. It would not have suited mine. But I cannot accept that that my DD was harmed by the decision to send her to the school we did. In fact the opposite. Plus she got very good dyslexia support which was a very good reason for choosing a school.

RaspberryIce Mon 26-Sep-16 11:24:43

I went single sex and i enjoyed it. I dont think it was any bitchier than the local boys' schools. My neighbour growing up and a friend of my mother both had sons who were a bit geeky and they were picked on terribly by the more cool, dominant boys in their two different local boys' grammars. It may not have been labelled as bitchiness but it wasnt in any way better than anything that went on in my girls' school.

One thing I would say is that i was pretty shy of boys and saw them almost as a different species. Girls in my school tended to view boys as potential boyfriends rather than friends. Dd only had the option of coed where we live now and i was a bit worried about boyfriend stuff, but actually she's made some nice friends of both sexes and is much more natural around boys than i was. She hasn't yet (Year 8) felt pressure to wear makeup as the girls she is friends with don't either yet. I did start wearing makeup by about year 9 anyway in my girls school as i felt i needed it. Dd's comp regularly sends girls to do science at Oxbridge so i don't see any reason to think she'd be held back if she wanted to do science.

dovesong Mon 26-Sep-16 11:30:12

I think all-girls schools can be fantastic but should make sure that the girls have plenty of interaction with boys outside school - drama or sports clubs and the like. I went to an all girls school and left at 16 to go to a mixed college - also a decision I'd recommend - and some of my friends who stayed there until 18 and didn't have many male friends outside school now have some very odd ideas about what men should behave like and how relationships should be.

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