Single sex education: a good idea?

, ,


The debate about single-sex education consistently makes headlines. Just in the last week, the Swedish government proposed a ban on single-sex classrooms across all subjects. In the same week, another article claimed that attending a single-sex school increases a student’s chance of progressing to university.

So, with such contrasting views, how do you know if a single-sex education actually offers any benefit over a mixed-sex education? Which one is right for you or your child?

As a PR agency we represent a range of different educational organisations to their key stakeholders, and always look for the best each has to offer.  Across our team we have people who have experienced pretty much every type of education on offer, including comprehensives, grammar schools, private schools and international schools, so education is a topic we often discuss.

I was asked to write this blog post after one such discussion.

Personally, to answer the question ‘how do know what type of education is right for you or your child?’ I only need think back to being educated in an all-girls school for my whole education. I have no doubt that being in a single-sex environment led me to perform to the best of my academic ability. However, admittedly, I can only speculate as I never experienced mixed-sex schooling.

I know that for me, being in an all-girls school environment meant I was able to grow at my own pace, without the pressure to impress boys, be distracted, or feel self-conscious. I think I gained self-confidence from not having to compete with boys, and the school certainly supported a ‘can-do’ philosophy, encouraging us to make the most of every opportunity that came our way, and encouraging our career aspirations.

I strongly remember a culture of achievement at my school, where academic progress was very important, with no barriers to success. We had the opportunity to take the lead in fields such as engineering and science, which are often male-dominated in a co-educational environment. At a girl’s school, a girl occupies every role, offering a wide range of opportunities for self-exploration and development.

I do want to stress however, that I believe it’s very important to mix with boys outside a school setting, as of course, in the workplace, and in life, the two genders do co-exist and it is important not to feel daunted by the opposite sex. I joined a mixed hockey club outside of school and I found this a brilliant way of ensuring I was with boys regularly.

I thrived in an all-girls education, however I know it doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s important to consider each individual independently. I remember some of my peers resenting being in an all-girls environment, and several left after secondary school, choosing to go to the mixed school nearby for Sixth Form. I personally chose to remain at the school because, despite being curious and wanting to experience co-education, I knew that I would achieve the best results I could where I was.