Many parents ask themselves whether their children will have a better education in a single-sex school or a co-ed environment. Some believe academic performance is more focused, particularly for girls, in single gender schools without the distraction of the opposite sex. Others are convinced that co-ed schools prepare children better for a real world in which they have to mix and interact daily with both men and women.
As the debate continues to rage on, we know there is no right or wrong answer – “à chacun son goût”. We recently conducted a survey amongst BESSA families and here are the three top reasons for choosing each. Perhaps it will help make your decision easier!
For Co-Education Schools
- Social skills: It’s easier for boys and girls to become true friends in a mixed school where they see one another just about every day. Supportive relationships with the opposite sex can lead to a healthy self-image and demonstrate increased levels of comfort and confidence in social situations.
- A reflection of the wider world: It may help some children to feel comfortable socially in other environments, including the world of work and their future profession.
- Modern teaching strategies: Boys and girls learn in different ways due to core gender differences, but progressive teachers have learnt how to deploy strategies in a co-ed classroom. Although the single-sex classroom format has been proven to be remarkably effective at boosting boys’ performances (particularly in English and foreign languages) as well as improving girls’ performances in Maths and Sciences, co-ed classrooms are catching up because of modern pedagogy.
For Single-Sex Schools
- A distraction-free environment: At a time in life when young people are beginning to discover the opposite sex, single-sex schools provide a good environment for pupils where they can concentrate fully on their studies. Numerous scientific studies have shown students from single-sex schools have higher college attendance rates as well as exam scores. A significant large-scale study was carried out in South Korea starting in the 70s where students were randomly assigned, with any opt-out, to single-sex and co-ed schools.
- Single-sex schools break down gender stereotypes: Children can maximise their potential in any field, free from the pressure to conform to gender stereotypes by sticking to more traditionally ‘male’ or ‘female’ subjects. For example, boys ordinarily do not even try to sing in a co-ed school, whereas they love choral singing in a boys’ school. Girls tend to be more cautious going into subjects like Computing or Physics in a co-ed school.
- Providing for emotional, physical and intellectual differences between boys and girls: At many co-ed schools, it is “uncool” to be excited about school. What is important tends to revolve around sexual relationships. Studies have shown this is seldom the case at single-sex schools, where students have a more positive attitude toward, better organizational skills, and are more involved in the classroom as well as sport and other extra-curricular activities.