The GSA continues to publish up to date research and information on the advantages of an all girls' education. The following articles are current on their website.
What Girls' Schools Do Differently
- Counter mass media influences by freeing girls from the pressure to conform to sexist patterns of behaviour, and providing them with a framework with which to judge the image of girls in today's media. Girls are free to grow up at their own pace.
- Support a 'can-do' philosophy. Girls hold all the senior positions in the school: all the scientists are girls, all the mathematicians are girls. There is no subject area or activity of the school in which girls do not excel. This leads undoubtedly to a 'can-do' philosophy in the school.
- Recognise the qualities of girls and how they learn. Girls' schools are expert in recognising the qualities of girls and understanding what makes them tick and how they learn. This knowledge is built up over years of experience of teaching girls.
- Have an in-depth of understanding and experience in girl-related pastoral issues.
- This experience has led to girls' schools adopting specific girl-centred learning strategies such as
- using relevant real-world applications from girls' lives
- teaching in collaborative and co-operative ways
- calling pupils by their name and waiting for them to reply before moving onto the next pupil
- encouraging risk-taking
- exploring mistakes and acknowledging their value
- teaching alternative solutions rather than just a single right answer to a given problem
- using writing as a means of learning any subject
- explaining through stories
- helping pupils to see themselves as sources of knowledge
- Girls schools celebrate learning without social distractions. They offer an environment in which girls can concentrate on learning without the distraction of boys. Without boys, girls tend to display their intelligence and curiosity regardless of powerful age-determined notions of popularity, attractiveness or negative peer pressure.
- Provide staff that are experts in the teaching of girls.
- Ensure that there is no gender stereotyping of subjects. Girls are more likely to take subjects that are less traditionally popular with girls because subjects don't acquire a masculine or feminine connotation.
- Provide leadership opportunities and models. Girls' schools are institutions where all the leadership positions in the school are held by girls and where girls can find strong role models amongst the staff, ethos and philosophy of the school.
- Celebrate the female perspective. Girls' schools celebrate the female perspective and way of doing things, are places where girls are accustomed to being heard and being valued for who they are, irrespective of what they look like or what they wear. The girls' school environment affirms and encourages young women in their capacities as confident individuals, leaders and agents of social change.
Research into how girls perform in co-educational environments
- Boys dominate teacher time. Classroom observations show that boys answer and ask more questions, hog the teacher's attention and the apparatus, organise themselves more quickly and ruthlessly to their tasks, while girls hang back through shyness or a desire to be helpful and co-operative. Boys are more demanding of the teacher's time both behaviourally and academically.
- Girls are less likely to take intellectual risks and are more passive. They fear getting it wrong, looking silly, being considered stupid, being judged by their male peers and found wanting. They prefer to solve problems by team working.
- Subject choices are more likely to be polarised. In co-educational schools both boys and girls are more likely to choose traditional male and female subjects. This limits choice and aspirations for both boys and girls.
- Girls tend to lose self-esteem and confidence as they progress through adolescence. This is made worse if they are constantly being placed under social pressure from boys. A co-educational environment does not always give them the space and security in which to build up their self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities as individuals.
- Less positive role models for girls. Co-educational schools do not always provide girls with the necessary positive role models through the teaching staff and the general ethos and philosophy of the school that is so essential for building girls' self-esteem and confidence. This is particularly the case for schools that have gone co-educational but where girls are in a minority. These are essentially still boys' schools with all the male traditions and trappings.
- Girls and boys mature physically, mentally and emotionally at different ages. In a co-educational environment this is much more difficult to manage. Girls are likely to lose out, as they tend to mature earlier and may well be held back by slower developing boys.
- Girls can have fewer opportunities for leadership roles in co-educational schools.
10 facts about Girls' Schools Association [GSA] schools
- 40% of GSA schools offer boarding facilities educating 11,327 girls as boarders.
- Eight of the top ten places in the 2006 Sunday Times Parent Power are GSA schools.
- GSA schools educate 44% of all girls in the independent sector.
- In 34 local education authorities in England and Wales GSA schools offer the only single-gender education provision for girls.
- A survey in 2004 showed that, compared to all girls nationally, in GSA schools over 70% more girls took A Level Maths; over 50% more girls took a Science at A Level; over 90% more girls took a Physical Science (Physics or Chemistry) at A Level; over 80% more girls studied French, German or Spanish at A Level.
- Over 95% of girls leaving GSA schools after A Levels move onto Higher Education.
- GSA schools spent £113.8m in 2003 on new buildings, equipment, and refurbishment amounting to £1,051 per pupil.
- GSA boarding schools invested £22.8m on boarding accommodation in 2003 amounting to £2,024 per boarding pupil.
- Over a quarter of pupils in GSA schools receive some assistance with fees from their school.
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