All-girls schools have been a subject of debate and research for many years. Research points to multiple potential benefits associated with girls-only schools, from academic achievement to greater self-confidence and self-belief.
The Good Schools Guide (2019) published a report on the benefits of single-sex education for girls, which found that girls in single-sex schools tend to outperform their coeducational counterparts in academic subjects such as Maths, Science, and Languages. The report also highlighted that girls in single-sex schools were more likely to pursue traditionally male-dominated subjects like Physics, Engineering and Computer Science.
Department for Education comparison data reported by the GSA supports this, showing girls in girls’ schools are 2.5 times as likely to take Further Maths and Physics – compared to girls in other schools. The uptake of Biology is 40% higher, Chemistry 77% higher and Computer Science 72% higher in girls’ schools.
A BBC article reported that girls in single-sex schools in the UK achieve better GCSE results than girls in coeducational schools, particularly in subjects like Maths, Science and English.
School Environment & Culture
Boys and girls often learn differently. Girls’ schools are distinctive, girl-friendly environments by design with teaching tailored to support how girls learn best. From the classroom to a curriculum that offers subject choice and fosters engagement in sport, to a culture that gives students role models with females in leadership roles. The difference lies in the whole-school ecosystem of a girls’ school.
“We now must recognise that certain topics and areas need to be conveyed in different ways to different groups. Girls’ lived experiences are different from boys’. As girls develop into women, they face discrete societal expectations and life choices that will inevitably have an impact on the paths they take. This is a fact, borne out by the voices in this survey, and it needs to be explicitly implemented and reflected in certain areas of girls’ education and learning design.”
Dr Kevin Stannard, Director of Innovation GDST, on the findings of the Girls Futures Report.
Research conducted by the American Association of University Women found that girls in single-sex schools or classrooms reported higher levels of self-confidence and greater participation in class discussions than girls in coeducational settings. The Girls Futures Report (based on UK research of a nationally representative sample of 1,358 girls in 2022) found GDST-schooled girls to be more confident, more self-assured, more empowered, better able to pursue their ambitions and feel unhindered by their gender. red by their gender. They were more comfortable taking risks.
The report also found that one in four girls (26%) aged between 9 and 18 feel like they cannot take part in certain pathways because of their gender. Confidence in taking risks also significantly reduces in girls in their later teenage years. In upper primary school, 48% of girls have the confidence to take risks, increasing to two-thirds (67%) of girls by lower secondary school but then falling back to 48% by sixth form.
Girls schools can help girls to maintain their self-esteem, take risks and try new activities and focus on their ambitions in a non-judgemental and neutral arena.
Research suggests that gender stereotypes may be an implicit threat to girls’ academic performance as early as primary school age, particularly in STEM subjects.
Girls are freed from the restrictions of gender stereotypes or bias in an all-girls environment, with the potential to excel in all subjects including those more dominated by boys elsewhere. It is an environment that can bring out the best in girls and encourage greater risk-taking.
In a single-sex school, girls have more opportunities to assume leadership positions, take on responsibilities, and develop their leadership skills. This can help them build confidence and competence in leadership roles, preparing them for future success in various endeavours.
Here at Brighton Girls School we are an all-through independent school for girls aged 4 to 18 located in Brighton, East Sussex. To read and learn more about our school, see more posts and news on our blog.