Same-Sex Classrooms

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I am writing because I am concerned about gender stereotypes hindering the learning of our middle school students. We should make the local middle schools same-sex, in order to raise test scores and allow our students to feel free to learn any subject they want. There is a lot of evidence in which children benefit from same-sex schools in the ‘Raising Boys’ Achievement Project’ (RBA) which was a four-year project (2000-2004) which focused on issues associated with the apparent differential

academic achievement of boys and girls at key stage 2 and key stage 4 in schools in England.

Academically the students do better, because the teachers are taught how to teach both sexes according to the way they learn best. This causes the students to quickly feel comfortable exploring non- traditional subjects. The focus of research in one triad, in the report was to contribute to the debate about

the potential of single-sex classes for boys’ and girls’ learning, and to consider under what circumstances,

if any, such classes might offer better opportunities for boys and girls. In so doing, the researchers

attempted to identify the essence of single-sex teaching in a particularly successful co-educational

comprehensive school serving a socially diverse white population in southern England, and to support the

transfer of this approach to two schools serving similar socio-economic contexts in Eastern England.

In the Originator school, single-sex teaching was one of a number of organizational strategies

which aimed to improve the achievement levels of boys and girls within the context of establishing an

achievement culture within the school, with high aspirations for and expectations of all students. Initially

tightly targeted at boys and girls who were perceived as being in danger of under-achieving in English at

GCSE, single-sex teaching was subsequently expanded and introduced with middle ability sets in

mathematics, Science and Modern Languages. Both Partner schools had some prior experience of

involvement with single-sex teaching in key stage 4, but the philosophy underpinning single-sex teaching,

and the associated teaching strategies were less developed than in the Originator school. The rationale

behind the introduction of single-sex teaching also differed in the two Partner schools; in school

B, it focused on improving the achievement of boys in English, whereas in school C, the

strategy was initially linked directly to the perceived under-achievement of middle set girls

in Mathematics.

In the Originator school, single-sex teaching has been one of the factors which has helped

to transform achievement. The performance levels of both girls and boys, year-on-year, have generally

followed an upward trajectory over the years analyzed. In school B, of the students taught in single-sex

classes, all girls in school B passed both English Language and English Literature in 2003, compared

with 81% of boys for English Language and 56% in English Literature. Interestingly, however, the boys’

average points score for English (4.9) was higher than that for other subjects (4.5). In school C, although

both boys and girls in single-sex classes performed better in mathematics than might have been

predicted from an analysis of their cognitive ability scores, with typically over 50% of both boys and girls

exceeding predictions in any year, this pattern was also apparent from the results of boys and girls, drawn

from a similar population in the other half of the year group, and taught in mixed classes for mathematics.

Any analysis based simply on performance data must be tentative, therefore, because of sample size and

the difficulty of isolating the impact of being taught in single-sex classes from other factors, but there is

some limited evidence here – from both the Originator school and one of the Partners –...
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