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What's your experience of same-sex education please?

(36 Posts)
GrimmaTheNome Sun 16-Aug-09 13:20:39

I went to a mixed grammar-turning-comp which happened to be on my street, and so that's all the experience I have. We're pondering DDs secondary choices and these include both mixed and single-sex, near and somewhat distant.

I hear mixed reports about single-sex - on the one hand, that girls do better without boys but on the other, that the young women thus produced are essentially either unable to handle men at all or that all they want to do is handle men!grin

My own gut feeling is that mixed is preferable, but unfortunately the schools available which have the best academic record aren't. Choices boil down to:

1) mixed local state comp (quite good, not stunning)

2) mixed local private (ostensibly better results than the comp but I'm not convinced of the 'added value')

3) all-girls grammar - academically excellent (if DD gets residual place, and its a long journey)

4) excellent selective private school, we're right at the end of its bus route. This is a bit more interesting: it has a girls and a boys division, they are taught separately but can (to some extent) socialise and do activities together. This sounds like it might be a very good arrangement - any of you with experience of it?

Forget (if you can!) the state/private part - I know the pros and cons well enough and don't want to get bogged down in them. Its the single sex thing I'm interested in here. The other major factor you'll note is the distance (the academically best schools are furthest) so if you have experience of longish bus rides I'd be grateful to hear about that too. IRL I'm suprised not to have heard real negatives on that score.


mimsum Sun 16-Aug-09 14:57:02

I went to a girls' school in the 70s/early 80s - it was a bit strange at first as we moved house when I was in my first year there so I no longer saw all the kids from my primary school, but wasn't going to school where I lived (there wasn't one to go to!) so for a while I had no contact with boys whatsoever (I'm one of a family of girls and I used to envy my friends with brothers!)

However, I loved the fact that there were no "girls'" subjects and "boys'" subjects - and that there was very little distraction in the classroom (which could have been because it was extremely academically selective as well ...)

As we went further up the school, we had more to do with the boys' private school down the road, so did joint orchestra/joint plays etc - for some less popular A-level subjects they held mixed classes so it didn't feel so isolated by that point

Ds1 goes to an all boys school and loves it - but then he's very boyish and only ust 12 - he may well change his tune once he's gone through puberty grin

ABetaDad Sun 16-Aug-09 15:07:03

Just asked DW what she thought. She went to a single sex girls grammar school with a good academic standard. She had lots of boys who were friends as the school had a single sex boys grammar school down the road where her brother went.

She says if we had DD se would want single sex girls school unless it was truely outstanding mixed school with excellent pastoral care. She is less worried about the whole 'boys subjects' and 'girls subjects' issue. What she would be worried about is what goes on outside the classroom.

I went to a single sex boys independent school that went partly mixed in my fnal year. Me and DW have agreed that our DSs will go to mixed sex school as we think that is better for boys.

seeker Sun 16-Aug-09 15:07:28

My dd is, at her own insistence, at a single sex secondary school and loves it. I make very sure that she mixes with boys a lot outside school - she is a Scout so there are a lot of them there - and there are plenty of school discos and parties and things.

I am very determined that ds will go to a mixed secondary school though - I think boys need girls as teenagers far more than girls need boys!

ABetaDad Sun 16-Aug-09 15:09:00

My view is that the selectve private school with some mixing for activities and social might be your best option. Best of all worlds solution.

Quattrocento Sun 16-Aug-09 15:20:38

We are in option (4) - which is composed of a nursery school to 7, two single-sex junior schools and two secondary schools. It's worked out really really well.

I, like you, was very nervous about the DCs thinking that the other gender were an alien species. But it doesn't work like that. So many parents have children of both genders, there is a lot of mixing. They all know everyone at the schools.

We're a bit annoyed that we are not on the school bus route tbh. If you are this is a good option. If not, then many of the children do travel a long way to the schools, some from up to 25 miles away, and it is the norm.

I'm guessing that you are looking just for a DD, but there are benefits especially at primary level, for single sex education for boys as well.

bloss Sun 16-Aug-09 15:38:36

Message withdrawn

duchesse Sun 16-Aug-09 15:45:48

I have two children (a boy and a girl) in mixed sec school (their choice), and one daughter in single sex sec school (her choice). They are all very happy with their choices, despite my long held reservations about single sex education. Contrary to what I thought, I do not now believe that girls' schools necessarily turn out wimpy girls unable to deal equally with boys and men. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth in my daughter's school's case. I do think you have to choose the school carefully though.

teamcullen Sun 16-Aug-09 16:08:21

My DD is in a single sex (state) school. She is going into year 9 so has been there long enough to see how things are.

Her opinion is, in the classroom there is much less messing about than if there were boys present.

PE- sports include all the normal things that are availible in mixed schools, including football and basketball. But it also covers dance and cheerleading, which she really enjoys and I think keeps them interested in PE for longer. (I hated doing sports in secondary school with boys present)

As for how girls react around boys. There aare girls who will be boy mad and girls who aar'nt, the same as in mixed schools. My DD says she has met them all. The ones who are boy mad are usually the loud ones after attention.

As for my DD she is very happy in school. I think the worst thing I could see when she first went, was there was lots of bitching and josseling for top dog. DD didnt really get involved with this, as she had no intention of being top dog. But some of the girls from her primary school took a while to settle as they realised that they were not queen bee anymore.

Also she gets 2 buses to school and the jouney takes about 40 minutes. After they have done it for a few weeks they get used to it and it only really bothers her if the weather is very bad.

LadyMuck Sun 16-Aug-09 16:28:53

Locally lots of Asian parents go for single sex schools (both grammar and indie). In one local school this means that the majority (just) of children are facing an arranged marriage, and are fully aware of that (which has an impact on the social scene). Talking to the Head of Sixth Form it is also reasonably clear that the boys at least also seem to being heavily managed by parents in terms of career choice from a very early age. Now this certainly isn't unique to any one group of parents, but there is a high correlation.

We now seem to have a trend of pushy parents going for the single sex schools (which do all perform very well), and the more laidback parents opting for mixed (comp and indie). But that is just in the bubble in which I live.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 16-Aug-09 17:25:32

Thanks for all your input so far! Glad that so far I've not detected any real negatives either way.

I suppose I know what you mean by 'girls and boys' subjects' because I was the only girl in my O-level physics and at A level the only one in physics, chemistry and one other in the double maths (there was another chemistry class with girls in, but they were doing biology). I have to say it didn't worry me in the least, as I and the other girl nearly always thrashed them!grin It seems likely that DD will follow DH and myself into sciences, fortunately all the schools offer triple science GCSE (though the girls grammar didn't till quite recently which rather shocked us)

teamcullen Sun 16-Aug-09 18:24:00

I dont thik sciences are seen as boys subjects to girls in single sex schools anyway, because they havnt got the boys telling them otherwise.

DD has done science as a whole subject up to now. I think that will change in year 9 ready for GCSE choices so it will be interesting to see how the sciences will devide then.

Although she is more creative and will probably pick chemistry or modular I think over physics or biology

ABetaDad Sun 16-Aug-09 18:57:51

grimma- just be careful pickig a girls single sex school if your DD is good at science. Frankly, some single sex girls schools are notoriously weak at science and have poor science facilities relative to boys schools. Not all of course - but some do because it is not seen as a 'girls' subject.

choosyfloosy Sun 16-Aug-09 19:06:37

went to a girls' grammar in the 80s. It was ideal for me as it was socially very relaxed - no pressure at all, no bitchiness to speak of and those who remained children until quite late in adolescence were not disadvantaged. It was academically good though not pressured. Huge sixth form with majority doing sciences i think. Music was great. Sports, art and creative subjects were weak, and the physical environment was crumbling with no money for repairs, so chunks of the school were roped off - the funds were kept for books. That was the 80s for you! Allegedly there was a linked boys' school but we did very little with them.

My sister was at the same school and had a fairly horrible time with some bullying, so explore the peer group as much as you can.

choufleur Sun 16-Aug-09 19:11:40

i went to an all girls comp in the 80s. I found it fine, although all girls together can get very bitchy.

i think, and this is only from personal experience, that i was able to do better at science and maths as there was no assumption that they were 'boys' subjects, as there were no boys there.

ADifferentMe Sun 16-Aug-09 19:12:22

I swore after my own experience at an all girls convent I would never inflict selective single-sex education on my kids. I did and regret it. DD1 at a grammar, thriving academically but suffering socially, not least because of a very long journey. Will be leaving at the end of year 10 to go to mixed college for A levels - I don't know who's most relieved, me or her!

DD2 at local comp (ok but she's being allowed to coast) and is extremely happy. Much more comfortable with boys than big sister and has many friends.

snorkle Sun 16-Aug-09 19:21:53

Some girls schools do struggle to attract good Physics teachers I'm told (actually I think most schools do), so you might want to make some discrete enquiries if your dd is likely to go that route.

I definitely think single sex suits some personality types better than others. I went to a girls secondary school & rather wish I hadn't (did well enough & didn't not enjoy it, but always wished I'd been at a mixed school), some of my peers definitely fell into the boy obsessed camp, but perhaps that's true of any group of teenage girls grin.

The main reason I'd be hesitant in your case though is the journey times involved. How long actually are they in hours per day? It can make such an impact on quality of life. If it's too long would moving be a possibility (not necessarily straight away, but after she's got a place & you are sure she's settled)?

ABetaDad Sun 16-Aug-09 19:32:41

snorkle - journey tme is really important.

My DW had a long journey to school.Parents had not got enough money to go private so she went to the local girls grammar but an hour each way. She had to drop all sport and after school activity to get back home to do homework.

She also hated the general bitchiness and the oppressive religiosity of a convent school. Not at all boy mad though.

I agree girls schools do struggle sometimes to get good science teachers because fewer girls choose science and have less good facilites so the best science teachers go elsewhere.

nooka Sun 16-Aug-09 19:32:46

dh and I both went to single sex schools. Our children won't. I think they are divisive and I'd like our children to attend the same school in any case.

skidoodle Sun 16-Aug-09 19:41:20

I went to an all-girls school and loved it. I didn't think boys were an alien species as there were plenty around from other schools and outside school social groups were mixed (although my best friends were girls).

It's hard to compare really as I never went to secondary school with boys. I would prefer to educate my children in single sex schools though, based on my experience.

GrapefruitMoon Sun 16-Aug-09 19:47:24

My dd is at an all-girls school at the moment - but I will consider moving her if necessary for A-Levels, depending on what subjects she wants to do. Her school gets good results but a lot of girls tend to do A-Levels in what used to be called "soft" subjects when I was at school.

BonsoirAnna Sun 16-Aug-09 19:51:54

I went to two single-sex prep schools and a single-sex grammar before moving abroad, aged 12, and spending the rest of my schooling in a mixed international secondary school.

I really don't think I would EVER choose a single-sex school for my children. For me, mixed was just so much better in every way.

snorkle Sun 16-Aug-09 19:56:29

Totally agree abetadad. A couple of dd's friends are at the ends of long bus routes & it's a pita. Not only can they not do after school stuff at school or they miss the bus, but once they get home there's no time for much except homework. They lose touch with local friends & all their school friends live miles away so they can't do so much socialising there either. I spent over 4 hours one weekend driving dd to/from a sleepover a few weeks ago - it's not something she or I have the time for often.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 16-Aug-09 22:43:50

Hum. Some negatives this time - thought it was going too smoothly! grin But thanks for those views also.

We'll be going round the schools again, but from what I remember of the teachers we talked to, the science teachers at the girls' schools seemed fine and so was the equipment. But then they are both very good schools.

The travel time does bother me. We were shown round the private school by a 6th former who did a long route but was adamant it wasn't a problem because they did loads of activities at lunchtimes, not all after school. I don't know about losing touch with local friends - DD doesn't go to the same school as them anyhow, and theres always weekends. TBH I don't remember socialising with anyone local after school except at weekends anyhow because my friends lived a couple of miles away, it might have well have been 30. (parents didn't run taxi services back then)

Loshad Sun 16-Aug-09 22:56:34

Mine are at the end of long bus routes (though i car them part way in the morning as i go that way to work) and really don't seem to suffer. Their school does late buses though so they can do all the after school activities they want to (or sometimes i can pick up after work) I think it's really important they don't miss out on that score. The social thing is more of a pain, but only because unsurprisingly there are pupils who travel in just as far but from the opposite direction ..... hmmm cue lots of parental taxi service. However since it is so much better than our local comp (think 3 heads in 4 years, no head atm, no governing body atm and kids leaving in droves to go anywhere else) am basically happy.

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