Girls engage better in girls' schools



By Mrs Judith Poole


Do girls’ schools really make a difference? This question is often asked when parents are considering enrolment at Abbotsleigh for their daughters. It is important for parents to understand that our environment is purposeful and designed to get the best out of girls as they develop. Girls do learn differently from boys and the latest brain research is supporting a difference in brain development. I thought it might be useful to share with you some important benefits that your daughters are gaining from attending Abbotsleigh. This list has been compiled by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools, which conducts active research into girls’ education.

  • Girls' schools are 'can do' environments.
  • All the leadership roles are filled by girls; from the captain of the touch football team to the head of the student body; from the first violinist in the school orchestra to the main lead in the school play; and from all the class captains to the leaders of every school club.
  • In girls' schools, girls see strong female role models, and understand that they too can achieve successful outcomes from their own efforts.
  • All activities are open to girls. They participate, influence and lead for genuine achievement.
  • In an all-girl classroom, girls take on all the roles in the group, providing an atmosphere where students take the risks necessary.
  • Girls thrive and excel in collaborative teams.
  • Teachers can match their teaching to the way girls learn and develop their courses to suit girls' needs.
  • Girls can work through the challenges of adolescence without fear of embarrassment or harassment.
  • Girls can develop their relationships in a supportive environment.
  • There is no obstacle preventing girls from exploring a career in any area.
  • Girls' achievements are celebrated.
  • Girl-centred learning leaves no doubt as to who receives the teacher's full attention, or who will be taking maths, science and technology classes.
  • There is a greater sense of connectedness – listening, helping and accepting others' points of view.
  • Girls in girls' schools achieve significantly stronger academic results than any other group in Australia.

Professor Alison Booth, Public Policy Fellow at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, recently wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald, that ‘the evidence is gathering’ that girls benefit ‘significantly’ in all-female classes. A recent study undertaken at Essex University shows that girls assigned to single sex classes are not only more likely to pass their courses, but also to obtain higher scores, even after they are no longer taking single sex classes.

A separate study shows that girls in patriarchal societies become less competitive than boys around the age of puberty, but this gender gap in competitiveness ‘never materialises in a matrilineal society’. A variety of studies now suggest that single sex environments influence girls to be more competitive and less risk averse than girls in co-ed environments, having important implications for single sex schools and public policy alike. You can read more in this research document from the Alliance of Girls' Schools.

For more research on girls’ education visit the Alliance website.


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