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December 18, 2012



What's the effect on boys? I went to a mixed school and feel quite grateful for that.


Favara says single-sex schools seem to make boys more "masculine" too.
A complication here is that choosing "masculine" subjects is often the wage-maximizing thing to do for boys and girls, so only girls face a trade-off between maximizing earnings and fulfilling traditional roles.

gastro george

Isn't the cliché that boys need to go to mixed schools to turn them into complete human beings, but girls need to go to single sex schools for the same.


My son's at a single-sex school. The first time we went round the school I noticed, in among the various bits of work on display around the walls, an art project by a fourth-form lad headed "My flower mosaic". See that happening at a mixed school?

On the other hand, I moved from a mixed school to a single-sex school & found the atmosphere in the latter quite stultifyingly male, and sex-obsessed in the way that you only really get with men together (and nearly always do get with men together). But I wasn't the only boy doing A Level English.

Also, the teaching profession hadn't been feminised to the degree it has today, so boys' schools had the luxury of all-male staffing - and single-sex staffing really puts the tin hat on a single-sex school. (No girls... at all? Anywhere? No women? No older, not very attractive women even? You're in the army now, kid.) My son's teachers include some quite young and girly women - unimaginable when I was his age. I remember a lad at our school writing a song about turning gay from sheer sexual frustration -

"When all we've got for sexual fancy
Is Mrs O'Byrne, Sac and Nancy"

Out of the three names he could come up with, only one was actually a woman (and she was the school librarian).


@gastro george: yes, except nobody's found away to come up with enough girls to satisfy both outcomes.

It's also a nice argument for private girls schools: not only are parents paying to ensure wee Tabitha gets a better education than the plebs, it's also a pseudo-feminist means of keeping her away from the nasty boys.


I'm sure I've seen stats somewhere suggesting that boys do better in mixed schools and girls do better in single-sex schools. The really interesting question is what, if in fact this is the case, one thinks one should do in terms of education policy? I have no answers - I wonder if there is some way of attaining the benefits of both? Mixed-sex schools with single-sex classes for certain subjects? Single-sex schools with close links to other single-sex schools for shared socialisation.

(I, somewhat unusually for someone of my age as they were something of an anachronism by the early 1990s, went to an all-boys comprehensive for a while. Was rather happier in a mixed sex school later on).


I was at an all-boys school, which bowed to the winds of change and went co-ed whilst I was a pupil. The leading edge of the wave of girls was a couple of years behind me, though, so my education was entirely single-sex (but with mixed sixth form) whereas my little brother had a co-ed education in the same school.

I was happy in the single-sex environment - I was the youngest in my year, both physically and emotionally, and was very glad that sex was off the menu, and I didn't feel any social pressure to get involved in relationships I wasn't ready for. My little brother's schooldays weren't so happy - he faced quite a lot of social pressure to pair up with one of the girls, which he was by no means ready for.

So I don't recognize the sex-obsessed world that Phil describes - certainly, there was plenty of pubescent boy sniggering, and circulating of a few grubby copies of top-shelf magazines, but it was far from an obsession, or the only topic of conversation. Yes, there was a tendency to make penis jokes as conversational punctuation, but that has as much to do with sex as the award for the most gratuitous use of the word "fuck".


Phil - good point on A level english. In my mixed gender school, when we divided up into arts/sciences/technical streams, the arts were about 80% female and the sciences 80% male. I was in arts, and one of my male friends thought I needed my sanity checked.

Chris Purnell


"Phil- good point on A level english (sic)."

If you write like this your friends are entirely correct you'd have been off doing Sciences

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