Single-sex or Co-educational schools?
The merits of single sex vs co-education continue to be debated and there is still a strong belief, that single-sex schooling tends to be better for girls, whereas co-education provides a better learning environment for boys.
Here, our Carfax experts look at the benefits for both sides of the debate and discuss the key questions to consider when deciding which environment will be best for your child.
The benefits of a Single Sex education
Many parents like the fact that single sex schools can offer a curriculum and teaching style, both in the academic and co-curricular programme, that is focussed entirely on the needs and learning styles of either boys of girls.
There is evidence that students are less guided by gender stereotypes when picking subjects; this is particularly true for girl’s schools, where students are more likely to take sciences to a higher level and to go on to achieve better results. Similarly, for boys, there can be a greater uptake of the creative arts.
One of the key arguments for educating girls and boys separately is the academic incentive. Some studies have shown that single-sex schools give students a better opportunity to focus on their studies, without unnecessary distractions from the opposite gender.
Some students feel freer to offer opinions and less inhibited in sharing their thoughts in a single sex environment. They are more willing to get involved in activities without fear of failing in front of the opposite sex.
Many single sex schools, would claim that there is less social pressure on their students and that this fosters strong and supportive friendships, builds confidence and self esteem.
For girls, it can be argued that a single-sex environment creates a more encouraging and welcoming environment, away from the potential of the hyper-masculinity that can be present in mixed sex schools. However, the counter argument would question the fact that students in both cases are being denied the social and emotional experiences that are necessary for a fully rounded education.
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The benefits of a Co-ed education
Many practitioners would argue that co-educational schools encourage the development of strong social skills and the development of healthy attitudes towards gender equality. They question whether, by segregating the sexes, we are in danger of treating them differently and therefore teaching them that they are inherently different.
There is certainly an argument that to prepare students for the ‘real world’ a co-ed environment is a more realistic experience, and mixed schools would suggest that they prepare students better for long term social and emotional success in an increasingly open and interconnected world.
Mixed schools expose children to more diversity at a young age and this prepares them better for a dealing with a world full of different kinds of people.
A Co-ed environment encourages both genders to speak out and to listen to each other, which promotes good communication skills and a healthy respect for other people’s views.
For many families there is no choice as to whether your child is educated in a co-ed or single sex environment. In the UK most maintained sector schools are co-ed and only the private sector offers the choice of single sex or a diamond style education. In the UAE, the opposite is true where most of the private schools are co-ed with boys and girls often been educated separately in the public system. The most important thing to consider is that no one system is better than the other.
The key questions to ask yourself are what do I want my child to get out of school and what values do you feel are essential, and where are they best represented? You should remember that the social implications and inherent school structure is not crucial, the child is the important part of this decision. The key is for you to understand your child and their educational needs and make a decision based on what will suit your child.