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✶ SINGLE-SEX SCHOOLS Are Single-sex Schools the Way Forward? Private Schools has gathered the opinions of experts in the single-sex education sector to find out their opinions on the age-old argument; is single-sex education more effective? T ony Little, Headmaster of Eton, has recently been in the media spotlight due to his speech at the Global Education and Skills Forum. He stated that “one of the real challenges we face as parents and particularly in schools” is the “growing sophistication of children at a younger age”. He continued with: “What does strike me is that in a single-sex environment, particularly at the age of 13, 14, 15, there is an opportunity for both boys and girls to be themselves for longer.” During his speech, Mr Little argued that single-sex schools offer students the opportunity “to be ‘boyish’ for longer, to be young girls.” Expanding on this, Mr Little suggested that single-sex education enables pupils to keep their innocence: “In a single-sex environment, you can allow innocence to last a little longer.” His speech has reopened the debate, along with recent research that shows that girls thrive in a single-gender environment. Joseph T. Cox PhD, Executive Director of International Boys’ Schools Coalition, agrees that single-sex schools offer students opportunities for individual development, without added pressures: “Girls don’t have to behave in ways they think boys want them to, and boys are free to explore many facets of masculinity without fear of looking like less of a man. “Women graduates of single-sex schools study math and science at eight times the rate of women who graduate from co-ed schools, and men who graduate from single-sex are much more comfortable exploring art, music and theatre, than boys in a co-ed environment. “ Research carried out by the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) supports this argument; they found that girls attending single-gender schools are 75% more likely to take maths A-level, 70% more likely to take chemistry and 2.5 times as likely to take physics, compared to all girl pupils across England. “In our experience, being taught in a predominantly all girls environment can increase girls’ self confidence in both maths and science. We see this in the sheer numbers of girls in our schools who choose to pursue maths and science at A-level and at university,” commented Alun Jones, President of the GSA. Jo Heywood, a female chemist, member of GSA and Headmistress of Heathfield School, an all-girls boarding school, has experienced this firsthand: “I have found that girls flourish when they are educated alongside other girls, and that they are far more likely to pursue STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – than they might have in a co- educational environment.” Kathryn Bell, Headmistress of Burgess Hill School for Girls, agrees: “It enables students to be confident within their learning environment by eliminating potential gender pressure to study specific subjects, to allow pupils to learn at an appropriate pace for them and to be able to explore their own personalised learning style.” Is it beneficial for both genders? This led to the question; is single-sex education only effective for girls, or does it benefit both genders? Tim Haynes, Headmaster of Tonbridge School, an all-boys’ boarding school, believes that “a single-sex education can offer several advantages” for males. He argues that “boys develop both intellectually and emotionally at 30 single sex .indd 30 www.privateschoolsmagazine.com SUMMER 2015 28/04/2015 09:32