The reason children go to school is for them to get a proper education. However, girls and boys learn in very different ways and this can affect the level of education they receive. It is often said that boys need to get more attention from their peers and teachers, while girls are way more conscious, and they require less attention. In co-educational schools, boys and girls tend to mix for physical education. This can put girls at a disadvantage as boys tend to be naturally broader and physically stronger than their female counterparts.
Levels of Attention
Boys are often expected to be louder and boisterous than girls, and this can lead to girls being overlooked in the classroom or time being wasted on quietening down the class. It is possible that if girls in a co-educational class feel dominated or like they are less likely to be heard if they stay quiet. In turn, this may cause that to feel that the only way to receive extra help or contribute is to change their personality. In a single sex school, the classroom environment tends to be more open, encouraging all pupils to voice their opinions, regardless of whether they are naturally quiet or vocal.
Stereotypically, science and maths are subjects that tend to be more associated with men and this may discourage girls from engaging in these subjects. In an all-girls school, girls are actively encouraged to contribute in lessons across the curriculum, without fear of judgment or being overruled. They can be creative and assertive, expressing themselves confidently with no need to feel self-conscious. This way, they gain the ability to voice their opinions and critique one another without fearing their peers may react negatively.
While boys are often more willing to test boundaries and speak out even if they don’t know an answer, girls may feel that it is better not to contribute to class out of fear of being laughed at or the teacher correcting them in front of the class. Often those who speak up gain respect from teachers for getting involved, regardless of their academic prowess. This can lead to a lower level of engagement from female class members, who may need more encouragement to feel part of discussions.
It is certainly worth noting there can be considerable differences in girls’ and boys’ learning in boys-only schools, girls-only schools, and co-ed schools. Though some teachers might not notice this often, they tend to respond to the pupils that contribute the most and this tends to be – although not always – male members of the class. If more attention is given to males, it is possible that girls are likely to progress slower.
In considering a prep school, ensure that you are aware of the potential advantages and disadvantages of single-sex and co-educational schools. Which one will work best for your child in the long run? It is important that the classroom allows your child the freedom to express themselves, and it is often the peers around them that can influence their level of interaction, which over time can affect their academic ability.