Do co-ed schools really work?

Co-ed schools are experimenting with separate classes for boys and girls, does this help pupils concentrate better without the destractions of the opposite sex?

A recent report by Mike Younger, head of the education faculty at the University of Cambridge reported that boys and girls are being taught in separate classes as growing numbers of co-educational schools show interest in segregating lessons. They have found that both male and female pupils concentrate better and are less intimidated when taught core subjects without the distraction of the opposite sex.
Mike Younger said that separating boys and girls is not a panacea for disruptive classrooms, but can help to raise academic standards in schools, under the right conditions.

Could Mike Younger be right and could we see the return of segregated schools?

I do not believe that teaching boys and girls separately is either necessary to raise academic standards nor is it desirable. Every child is different; we all have our strengths and weaknesses and gifts that a good teacher is able to help develop and thereby bring out the best in each child. It seems to me that single sex classes simply acknowledge teaching which is incomplete.  Simultaneously, we need to keep track of how all pupils are developing whilst in school so as to ensure that we are indeed doing the best for everyone. When children leave education and enter the world of work, the notion of the sexes working separately would be nonsensical and I feel the same about our time in school.

John Waszek – Principal, St Edward’s College

Following the change from all boys to mixed year groups, there has been an improved ethos and a better academic atmosphere. The students enjoy friendships with both genders and there has been very little tension or conflict.
In lessons, students are able to discuss freely academic issues and are competitive with each other, with staff ensuring that both genders are equally involved. As individuals, they have respect for each other and are proud of their own and their friends’ achievements, regardless of gender, ethnic or cultural differences.
Academic performance and attendance indicates that both boys and girls thrive and enjoy school, so segregation, even for certain subjects, is not something that the Blue Coat School is considering.

Debbie Silcock – Headteacher, The Blue Coat School

It is for local authorities and governing bodies, in consultation with parents to decide to create a single sex school if there is a desire among parents. Individual head teachers themselves can decide to make classes single sex within schools, though parents’ opinions should still be sought. While single sex schools can benefit girls’ performance it is difficult to disentangle from social class and there is no conclusive evidence that boys’ exam performance is enhanced in single-sex schools. Single-sex classes have very mixed results – they have not been shown to be the decisive ingredient in lifting boys’ achievement but have, in some cases, improved girls’ achievement.

Diana Johnson – Schools Minister

As a parent I tend to agree, boys will be distracted by girls and girls will be distracted by boys, it has always been that way. The most important aspect is the academic performances of our children, separate classes gives both genders a more rounded education.
Boys are more likely to respond to questions without embarrassment and ridicule and to participate without showing off while I think that girls are more hard-working and work better without the boys around. This could just be the current trend of thinking and by this time next year it will be something different, our first objectives should be the childrens welfare and education.

Tricia Barker – Parent

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