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Boys only boarding

(29 Posts)
peonypower Thu 18-Jul-19 10:10:03

My son goes into y6 next year, and we need to think more seriously about secondary schools. He will be a full boarder (military family).

I have a daughter too and she's going to a coed boarding school (2 years older than him). My first instinct was to get them at same school as it makes life easier logistically.

He's decided he wants to apply for a boys school as his best friend is likely going there. He's certainly academically capable enough to get in. But I'm not convinced by single sex education. What are the advantages of it? Some of the other parents at the children's (CO-Ed) prep school think boys do better in a "more competitive" boys only environment. My son is certainly spurred on by competition. But is that true, that boys schools focus more on competition?

Does anyone have a boy who loved the idea of no yucky girls at age 10 and is bitterly regretting it once they turned 14/15? Suspect this could happen

Also, is single sex any kind of preparation for the real world?

My husband and I both coed boarded, so no experience of single sex ourselves

Any thoughts welcome

OP’s posts: |
ksb76 Thu 18-Jul-19 15:01:28

Nothing to help you about single sex boys schools but as the parent of one of each, both full boarding at the same co-ed school, I have to say that just the logistics of having them both at the same school would win out for me. We are also a pretty close family, having moved around a lot and having them together, able to keep an eye out for one another makes me feel a whole lot better about them full boarding. My son is definitely spurred on competitively by both the boys and girls who are ahead of him.

peonypower Thu 18-Jul-19 17:05:11

I'm inclined to agree with you on both points - though don't want to put my wishes ahead of his necessarily!
Thank you

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happygardening Thu 18-Jul-19 17:36:57

My DS boarded at SS from 13 prior to that he went to a coed prep. I’ve worked at coed senior boarding schools. Maybe the atmosphere is slightly different I can’t explain it but it did feel a little different. I know some teachers think that boys are more likely to do things like singing arty subjects like history of art art in SS. I’m not sure it’s more competitive in SS as even in coed in most boarding schools boarding houses are SS so plenty of opportunities for being competitive.
I also think that for me logistics would win every time unless you’re living very close to one or preferably both schools (which if you’re a military family I guess you won’t be) . It’s impossible to be in two parents evening, two carol concerts etc at the same time and schools seem to meet together at the beginning of every academic year and say why don’t we all have the yr 9 parents evening on the 5th of November that will work well for our parents!

TheletterZ Thu 18-Jul-19 17:48:53

Another vote for logistics! 2 different Exeats, twice as much time clapping at speech day (unless they are at the same time which makes everything harder), holidays not always lining up, if you are abroad they would have to fly separately rather than together. The list goes on.

It is daunting going to a new school and I can see why he would want to go to the same school as a friend but there is no guarantee that friendship will continue as they grow and change. He will probably be in a SS boarding house, so still get that environment.

If you really thought the first school wouldn’t suit him that would be different but if they are both good fits then family logistics comes into play.

Lollypop85 Thu 18-Jul-19 20:00:50

OP - Another military family here. My daughter attends a coed military boarding school and loves it! My son will be joining her next sept the same as your son.
To begin with although they have classes together, they live, eat, have sports/clubs etc. Separately. It's not until the summer term that they really start to mix.

I have thought about all boys school in terms of learning style but as you say it can have its limitations in their preparation for life. After all they can learn so much from each other.

Probably not much help but I have considered it before and gone back to having them at the same place and all the pros of being coed.

BubblesBuddy Thu 18-Jul-19 21:03:45

If there are two parents it can be managed and I know plenty of parents who had DC at different schools (boys and girls schools) and they managed just fine. Rarely had dreadful clashes because all schools seem to have different functions, dates and expectations.

I don’t see why his wishes shouldn’t be considered. His friend will be with him, his DD won’t and cannot do much with him at all. I would keep an open mind and allow him to look at the schools. I’m assuming this is for y9.

I know various young men who have been educated in boys schools through my DDs. All are universally great young people (but then my DDs have good taste!) The boys are not ludicrously competitive. I would say definitely no more so than the people you meet in average society. I don’t think the type of school really feeds into this. I think it’s more about personality.

Witchlight Thu 18-Jul-19 21:11:05

Hi, DS went to the same school as Happygardening’s DS. At this school the boys were particularly tolerant and caring of each other, with friendships inter year. Boys hug and show affection to parents and there is a lack of teenage grinding at parents. They also show care for each other.
DS is an only child, who has only recently had cousins ie no girls in family. He is now living in a shared house (London) with 3 girls - two of whom are sisters of housemates at school. His friends are all articulate and kind, adults who have friends of both sexes. The old stereotype of fumbling, inarticulate males, who can’t deal with females is outdated.

Witchlight Thu 18-Jul-19 21:12:08

Grunting, not grinding

BubblesBuddy Thu 18-Jul-19 21:24:54

Sorry: DSis not DD!

peonypower Thu 18-Jul-19 22:38:13

Thank you all for your input! Much appreciated

Chances of him getting into the SS choice are slimmer (very competitive, although he is perfectly capable academically) so maybe we won't have to choose anyway. Both schools would suit him (he's very much an all rounder fortunately. Apart from drama. He hates that!)

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happygardening Thu 18-Jul-19 22:41:55

"Boys hug and show affection to parents and there is a lack of teenage grinding at parents. They also show care for each other."
I particularly like this about DS's school but have to say I've seen similar in coed schools a lot depends on the ethos of the school. Caring parents/schools create caring children/pupils.
Like Witchlight's DS my DS (who also has no girls in his family) is very far removed form the "old stereotype of fumbling, inarticulate males, who can’t deal with females". But then I'm with Aristotle and the Jesuits on this one "Give me a child until he is 7 etc......”

BoardingSchoolMater Thu 18-Jul-19 22:47:03

Single sex boarding is brilliant (my DS is at one, though not the same one as Happygardening's). His friends are all absolutely lovely, well balanced, warm, well rounded individuals. DDs are at single sex day schools. Single sex schools are generally a good thing, IME. The only thing I'd counsel against is a child choosing a school based on where his/her friends are going. These friendships may or may not last, but the child will (hopefully) be at the school for a fair while, so it's better to choose the right 'fit' between child and school.

stucknoue Thu 18-Jul-19 23:00:44

My dd was at co ed boarding 6th form (bursary) but met quite a few bits who had transferred from all boys schools, the ones she dated were all pretty horrible, perhaps she just st picked the wrong ones but they were cold, being dumped in boarding school at 8 or 9 didn't help I suspect. Current bf is a bursary kid, so much nicer!

Michaelahpurple Fri 19-Jul-19 04:54:13

Depending on the school you should bear in mind that he may see very little of his chum unless they are the same house

1805 Fri 19-Jul-19 14:16:22

The things I like about SS schooling is that boys especially (imo) are more likely to get involved in the creative stuff. They do mix with girls socially and for plays etc
Both my dc are happy in SS schools, my DS chose SS particulary, and my DD chose the school which happened to be SS iykwim.

I think if you agree with the school he's looking at, then go for it.

peonypower Fri 19-Jul-19 14:45:38

Are nobody's older teenage sons at SS regretting the more limited opportunity for hanging out with girls?

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BigusBumus Fri 19-Jul-19 14:52:24

My 3 boys are at a boy's boarding school. I deliberately chose single sex for them as I wanted them to have very strong male friendships and not have their heads turned by girls in the run-up to GCSEs. Two have just finished Year 11 and one has got himself his first girlfriend now. The girls' school is in the same town and the sixth form is mixed sex which i think is great too.

1805 Fri 19-Jul-19 15:17:06


No. He mixes with girls within our family and friends, and meets up with girls he meets during school events/joint schools stuff.

1805 Fri 19-Jul-19 15:17:41

Oh - we gave him the option to move to coed for 6th form, but he wanted to stay where he was (SS).

happygardening Fri 19-Jul-19 15:21:40

I personally wasn’t overly worried about my DS having his “head turned by girls in the run up to GCSE’s”. Many boys at SS boarding schools will meet girls out of school either at schools local to their boarding schools or local to their homes. Or their heads may be “being turned” by boys!!
When we looked at schools we looked for somewhere with an ethos that we liked, that was academically very strong that was within a certain travelling distance with staff we liked and pupils who we felt were similar personality’s to our DS who were thriving at the school and we wanted certain activities etc. I’m not saying that if we could have had found a coed school that offered all of this all of this then we would have seriously considered it but all the above took were higher up our must have list than SS or coed.

BoardingSchoolMater Fri 19-Jul-19 17:36:46

Are nobody's older teenage sons at SS regretting the more limited opportunity for hanging out with girls?

My son is 17, and positively likes being at a SS school. He says they just 'get' boys. He has friends from prep school who are girls (sees them a lot in the holidays, as they are local, unlike most of his school friends), plus has me (single mother) and sisters. He has also made good friends with girls via his school friends (real friendships, not social media-driven ones). So he's not completely isolated from females.

peonypower Fri 19-Jul-19 21:50:21

Thank you all - this is really helpful
Having no experience of SS I was a bit concerned about it, but you've helped allay any concerns

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BubblesBuddy Sat 20-Jul-19 08:41:43

As a regular visitor at a co Ed boarding schools grounds which are owned by a Charity and open to the public, I can assure you the staff find condoms in the hidden further reaches of the property. SS tends to avoid that in school time and on school property. I agree that co Ed reflects real life though but not always in ways parents expect.

peonypower Sat 20-Jul-19 16:03:08

Well I'm afraid that would have been me when I was at school too, so fully aware of that side of things!

Not really sure how much I've thought about it since I was at school to be honest. Probably should discuss that with my husband, to get male perspective on it

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