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Opinions on single sex primary please

(33 Posts)
HereIGo Wed 07-Sep-11 15:43:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nenevomito Wed 07-Sep-11 16:13:47

I don't know about single sex primary school, but I did single sex high school and if anything I would say it was better at preventing gender stereotypes than not. There was no gender bias in any of the traditional 'male' subjects - more girls chose science based courses than humanities (or certainly did in the year I was in.)

There is plenty of opportunity to mix with other sexes, so the only question I'd ask is whether its a good school or not.

<fondly remembers feminist teachers>

mathanxiety Wed 07-Sep-11 16:16:03

I attended a single sex primary, a convent school in Dublin, and it was fabulous.

There was absolutely no sensitivity or niceness whatsoever among my classmates [grin with tongue in cheek]. We ran about and were very robust. We enjoyed a very orderly environment where girls 'owned' the physical and vocal space. I didn't appreciate this aspect of my primary school fully until secondary, which was mixed and had a very different environment that tended to be dominated by the boys -- boys ime have a way of being louder and more of a physical presence in a building than girls, and they also tend to claim more of the attention of teachers in any given classroom than girls do. I have seen this even at my DCs' mixed elementary school even though it strives for the same orderly atmosphere.

Imo there is no better foundation for girls than a single sex primary school. I think in a mixed primary school environment boys and girls tend to adopt gender roles just to distinguish themselves from each other, but in a single sex environment for girls (have no experience of a single sex boys' school) they are much more free to express the inner boy, whatever that may be, and be fully themselves. In a single sex girls' school the teachers adjust and expect from girls the same interest in so-called masculine subjects and areas that they would maybe subconsciously think belonged to boys. My classmates went on to excel in the mixed secondary school where most of us went. A large number of my schoolfriends have careers in areas that would be considered traditionally male and in maths-oriented areas like software development. (Perhaps because that is how Ireland's economy developed, but we were ready for the turn of events when it happened).

UsingMainlySpoons Wed 07-Sep-11 17:23:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SybilBeddows Wed 07-Sep-11 18:12:19

I think there is plenty of stereotyping going on in mixed schools; I definitely wouldn't expect there to be more at a single sex school. The biggest negative for me would be the risk of the children growing up with no confidence in how to relate to the opposite sex, like some public schoolboys I met at university who had been educated single sex from the age of 7, but this is easily avoidable by making them do other social activities and of course if they have opposite-sex siblings that helps.

SardineQueen Wed 07-Sep-11 18:24:10

I suppose it depends whether your DC are male or female! Anecdotally girls do better single sex and boys mixed sex.

My primary school was single sex from 7, and I was single sex then through until I went to a mixed sixth form. My schools were selective private type (if that makes any difference!). My experience was that girls were encouraged to take the range of subjects - I did sciences - and sport was a big thing too. So positive from me smile

SardineQueen Wed 07-Sep-11 18:25:38

Also didn't stunt me on the "interacting with males" front wink grin

SardineQueen Wed 07-Sep-11 18:25:59

Mind you that's probably not what you're thinking about with primary age children, sorry!

mathanxiety Wed 07-Sep-11 19:23:09

A lot of the conditioning of girls in dealing with the opposite sex happens in primary school.

I think girls who have not been exposed to boys in primary school tend to be far better than girls who have been conditioned to take a bit of a back seat when it comes to dealing with boys and the pressures mixed company brings at a later age. They have formed an opinion of themselves that has no reference to what they think 'the boys' think of them and when they do find themselves in mixed company they generally do not have the habit of considering the effect their work and demeanour will have on boys.

HereIGo Wed 07-Sep-11 20:11:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AssetRichIncomePoor Wed 07-Sep-11 20:15:28

"How does society help children realise that they are equal, if they aren't exposed to the other sex?"

Hard to explain - but what it gives children of both sexes is a sense that they can do anything. I went to a single sex primary (and secondary) and my DC are at single sex primaries.

"I am also suspicious that the teachers would, without realising it, be more likely to fall into the trap of expecting girls to be all pretty and sensitive and nice, and the boys would be encouraged to suck-it-up, run about, be robust."

Absolutely the opposite. At girls' schools, girls are encouraged/expected to climb trees, get grazed knees, and be robust just as much as they are expected to be sensitive and kind. Above anything else, they're treated as individual people, not as children of a particular gender. We've found the same at the boys' school.

Single sex is brilliant on all counts. Especially for feminists.

SardineQueen Wed 07-Sep-11 21:15:25

The thing that I find interesting is that when we have threads about this, I am always surprised at the number of women who post here regularly had single sex educations.

I wonder if there is a correlation between those things - I wouldn't be at all surprised.

mathanxiety Wed 07-Sep-11 22:05:25

It's not just making space for the boys' expectations, it's the girls' policing of a communal idea of what being a girl means that you get in mixed schools that often does more damage, the unspoken rule that you must not bat for the other side and the possibility of sanctions imposed by girls if you do.

I agree SQ and with Asset. I think single sex school would be more beneficial for a girl than a boy, though. It promotes confidence and more freedom of choice academically for girls. I went to a single sex school from 9 and loved it. Had plenty of interaction with boys too, outside school. Although I am always a bit confused as to why interactions between girls should be seen to be different from interactions between girls and boys. It implies that we should treat boys differently (or they would treat us differently) and thereby promotes differences, other than physical ones. I do realise though that the world isn't the feminist utopia I'd like it to be in that respect wink.

My highly biased and unscientific feeling and experience of boys schools (I have been involved in a male-dominated, public school dominated sport for 25 yrs) is that boys come out of single sex schools with a sense of entitlement. Girls come out of single sex schools with confidence.

As primary schools is where the gender stereotypes start in earnest I can see it being an advantage though to go single sex.

UsingMainlySpoons Thu 08-Sep-11 00:52:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SlinkingOutsideInSocks Thu 08-Sep-11 03:05:23

Another one who went to a single sex school and thrived. There's no 'distraction' for want of a better word, and you just sort of get on with it - learning, socialising with peers and being yourself without looking over your shoulder at the boys.

I only have experience of single-sex high school as opposed to primary, but they're such formative years, and to be able progress from young teenager to ready-to-go-out-into-the-world with an entrenched sense that you're as good as, as normal as, as capable as all your peers (since they're girls too) puts you in such good stead.

What I mean - everyone's treated exactly the same; there's zero gender bias since there can't be. So by the time you re-join the real world grin either at university or in the work-force, which of course is populated by men as well, you have this innate sense of equality, capability, etc. That's been my experience anyway.

nooka Thu 08-Sep-11 04:44:53

Both dh and I went to single sex schools, although at secondary (I am amazed that there are single sex primaries left to be honest). One of the reasons I moved was to make sure that my children did not have to go to single sex schools themselves (our local schools were all single sex for some reason), and I am very happy that where I live now there are no single sex schools at all. I think they are archaic throwbacks to be honest.

My experience from watching my children go through primary is that most of the time the other sex was simply irrelevant. I don't recall dd ever saying that the opinion of boys was in any way of any importance to her, whilst it's only been this year that ds has even mentioned the girls in his class (he is 12). For myself on the other hand the opinion of boys was quite important as they formed the majority of my friends at primary level. It seems a pity to me to deprive children of potential companions just on the basis of their gender.

AssetRichIncomePoor Thu 08-Sep-11 07:39:23

HandDived, it's interesting that you have had this experience with ex public school boys. My dad and DH are both ex public school boys, and there isn't the faintest trace of 'entitlement' about either of them. They are quietly self-assured and confident, but in the same sort of way as the girls I was at school with, not in a bad way. None of my male public school friends has it either. But as I steer very clear of anything to do with sport, it could be an ex public school sporty thing. grin

I think you can tell later on if a girl has been to a girls' school (and probably if a boy has been to a boys' school too, though my radar are less attuned to this!) I can't put my finger on why, though.

SardineQueen Thu 08-Sep-11 09:15:18

Having said all that DD1 started mixed-sex primary school yesterday.


<but only a teeny bit>

"it could be an ex public school sporty thing" - very probably! Competitive elite sport promotes arrogance and selfishness anyway - I just find that the boys adapt to that more quickly than the girls!

Pagwatch Thu 08-Sep-11 09:26:28

Yes. The stereotypical 'jocks' are likely to be more arrogant because excellence in sport demand self belief and single mindedness that can easily morph into arrogance if not balanced.

My son and my dh are both ex public school and very sporty. Neither are arrogant. It depends on other factors. Had we been the parents standing on the touch line shrieking, demanding to see the coach about whether he would be captain this year etc etc, then ds1 could have been . But we weren't.

Sending my dc to private schools does not mean they parent my dc instead of me. Anymore than if they had gone to state school.

Ds1 went to a mixed school at 7 and desperately pleaded with us to let him go back to single sex at 11.

Dd goes to single sex because I want her to be in science lesson without getting any indications that this is a boys subject. I like her being the best at rugby. I like her enjoying her school day without getting any suggestions that boys tend to do x better. She is deciding which subjects she excels at without thinking ' but if I am the best at physics the other three on the top table are boys - does that make me odd'

Single sex is one of the top three reasons two of my dc goes private.

HandsOffOurLand Thu 08-Sep-11 09:44:37

Same here, Pagwatch.

Bettymum Thu 08-Sep-11 10:21:33

I was lucky enough to go to a single sex prep, and a single sex state grammar. In my experience, as others have said, it enabled me to get on and not worry about boys - my mum's always saying that she'd have done a lot better at school if she hadn't been distracted by boys grin. I did maths and sciency A-levels, and a science degree, partly perhaps because there was not pressure to choose girly subjects. I don't know, maybe I'd have done the same in a mixed environment, but I was not the most confident of girls to say the least and I suspect I wouldn't.
I remember a comment that I got from a man a few years older, talking about a few of the girls from my school when we were about 17 or 18 - "you can tell you all go to an all girls school, it's your naive self confidence."
I think that probably summed us all up quite well.

skrumle Thu 08-Sep-11 10:43:03

SQ: "The thing that I find interesting is that when we have threads about this, I am always surprised at the number of women who post here regularly had single sex educations.

I wonder if there is a correlation between those things - I wouldn't be at all surprised."

i'm on this thread just after reading the last of LRD's relationship one and there are several comments on that one about the wisdom of older women when you are in your 20s but TBH i didn't totally agree because in my 20s i might have compromised but i was always aware of it where lots of women seem almost oblivious.

i was wondering if it was to do with the fact that i didn't have a relationship with a guy till i was 21, so by the time i was expected to compromise i knew that i didn't need a man in my life. but perhaps it's to do with the fact that i went to a single sex secondary and so have self-esteem that isn't based on whether or not men find me attractive (luckily since i ain't all that...).

HandsOffOurLand Thu 08-Sep-11 14:13:07

That's interesting too, skrumie. I didn't bother with boys until I went to university, and was then extremely picky. So far as I was concerned, I was brilliant and had lots of things to do that were far more fun and far more fulfilling than Having A Boyfriend. My self esteem was/is sky high, and never had anything to do with being attractive or unattractive to men.

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