When choosing a secondary school for their daughter, many parents wonder about the benefits of single-sex schooling. Will it help their child be the best she can be? Will it enhance her learning abilities and develop her talents? Or will her education be better off in a co-educational environment?
There is much debate in the academic community regarding the pros and cons of single-sex education. Some say that girls perform at a higher rate when in a single sex classroom, while others say that girls need the competitive balance of having males in their classes. No individual study can give a definitive statement about whether girls receive a better education in single-sex or coeducational schools. Instead, a cumulative picture can be formed that shows girls are more likely to achieve academic success, secure leadership positions and develop self-confidence at a younger age, when educated in a girl’s school.
With over 90 years experience in educating girls, many of whom are some of Australia’s leading women, we believe that single-sex education is the better option when it comes enabling girls to reach their potential.
The girls at Stuartholme School are inspired to learn each day by our highly educated and talented teachers. They challenge and support each individual girl.This ensures every Stuartholme Girl has every opportunity for their personal success.
According to industry researchers, University of California’s research centre and the Alliance of Girl’s Schools Australia, there are 4 key areas where girls are advantaged by being in single-sex environments:
Without the competition presented from having male presence in the classroom, girls are free to pursue academic excellence and each achievement is celebrated. Research has shown that there is a higher participation rate in typically male subject areas such as physics and upper levels of maths courses in girls’ schools. There are significant differences in positive attitudes towards science and maths and girls in girls’ schools are typically more engaged during science and maths classes.
With increased participation, comes increased understanding. In a co-educational classroom, boys can be very disruptive which can take valuable time away from each girl’s education. At Stuartholme, we make no apologies for giving our girls our undivided attention.
We have seen this lead to higher achievements in test scores as well as our girls being comfortable to ask questions in class and know they’ll be supported and encouraged.
A study of single-sex public schools prepared for the U.S Department of Education found that there are many social and emotional benefits for girls who attend single-sex schools. While social interactions and emotional responses can be hard to quantify, the researchers used observational techniques and found that there were more positive academic and behavioural interactions between teachers and students in the single-sex schools when compared to co-educational schools (Riordan et al., 2008).
In the same study, the researchers systematically reviewed the literature on single-sex education and concluded that there were more social-emotional outcomes favouring single-sex schools’ (Riordan, 2008).
Another American study also found single-sex schooling had a positive impact on the academic, attitudinal, and social achievement levels of students, especially female students (Morrell, 2009).
In single-sex classrooms there is also a decrease in stereotypical views and a more encouraging feel to the class dynamic. Stuartholme Girls are also advantaged by having small class sizes which increase the amount of student-teacher time given to each individual student. Our learning environment is tailored to their needs and interests, and without the boys, girls show fewer inhibitions and take more risks when working through problems and exercises. Girls have more freedom in regards to class discussions, without being dominated by boys.
Girls at girls’ schools enjoy not only equal opportunity, they enjoy every opportunity. At Stuartholme, Senior students are encouraged to take on leadership roles and are surrounded by strong female role models. With over 50 Leadership positions available, the girls are shown how to be leaders to the younger girls. All activities are open to them: they can participate, influence and lead.
Our girls graduate not only ready to take their place in the world as people of equal intellectual stature, but also knowing that they are capable of running the show. Research has shown a be higher correlation between graduates of single-sex schools and top leadership positions in later life, as compared with those from a co-educational environment. Our girls are encouraged to recognise they are able to aim high and know they have the skills; needed; empowering them to be the best they can be.
Female graduates of single-sex high schools also show higher levels of political engagement, greater interest in engineering careers, measurably more self-confidence in public speaking and a stronger predisposition towards co-curricula engagement. An all-girls school can create an atmosphere that counteracts the negative influence of mass media and its often troubling depictions of women and girls. Women who attended single-sex schools ‘earn a 19.7% higher wage than women who attended coeducational high schools’ (Billger, 2007).
Meg Milne Moulton, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools said, “the culture, climate and community of girls’ schools as a transforming force speaks loud and clear in the results of this study and confirms that at girls’ schools it’s ‘cool to be smart’ — there’s a culture of achievement in which a girl’s academic progress is of central importance, and the discovery and development of her individual potential is paramount.”
To learn more about the benefits of single-sex education for girls, view the Alliance of Girls Schools.