Recent research highlights that girls may not flourish in previously all boy’s schools

Last Updated on : 7th June 2024

Analysis by FFT Data Lab found that students at all-girls’ schools in England scored GCSE grades equivalent to 10 percent higher than boys. Interestingly, research also suggests that boys benefit academically and socially from exposure to characteristics often displayed by girls, such as teamwork, collaboration and maturity. As discussions around all-boys’ schools becoming co-ed grow, do boys’ schools stand to gain more from becoming co-ed than the girls who would attend them? Moreover, do these institutions understand what is necessary to make girls feel they can truly flourish in such environments?

Girls come to Streatham & Clapham High School (SCHS) where they flourish. Located in the heart of south London, and part of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), the focus is on fostering a sense of camaraderie and friendship among girls, creating an environment where they feel supported and empowered to achieve their best.

SCHS is the first GDST school to offer GCSE Engineering: the school will be amongst the pioneers in girls’ education for tech. At SCHS, every subject is a girl’s subject. This philosophy encourages girls to excel across the curriculum, including STEM subjects, without the gender biases that can sometimes be present in mixed-gender settings.

Head, Ms Cathy Ellott comments, “At SCHS, we encourage our girls to be bold, brave and tough. Our holistic approach goes beyond academics, nurturing young women who embody our core values of kindness, respect, compassion and integrity. We aim to develop individuals who will make their mark in society over the next 25 years and beyond.”

“At SCHS, the quality of friendships and a strong sense of community are paramount,” Ellott adds. “Our girls value their friendships, which often last a lifetime. They are proud to be part of the SCHS family, where parents, students, and staff share common values and work together to support each other.”

In contrast, boys’ schools often overlook essential aspects such as physical infrastructure (loos, changing rooms, common room spaces, girls’ sport provision, appropriate menu choices, decor that feels welcoming to girls) and social and pedagogical concerns (teaching and learning styles, collaboration and competition, approaches to feedback). Are the staff ready, and do they understand the adolescent journey of females? What about PSHCE, role models, and leadership structures?

Boys’ schools stand to gain more from becoming co-ed than the girls that attend them. For girls to thrive in previously all-boys’ schools, these institutions must undertake deliberate efforts to create a supportive and inclusive environment.

If the legacy of all-boys is still so evident, it’s vital to ensure girls feel welcome and capable of flourishing, which requires more than simply opening the doors to them. It involves comprehensive changes in school policies, teaching methods, and the overall school culture. Girls at SCHS are testament to the success of a dedicated, single-sex educational environment.

The next open day at Streatham & Clapham High School is 25th June  (read more).



Ms Cathy Ellott, Head of Streatham and Clapham High School

Ms Cathy Ellott joined Streatham and Clapham High School as the new Head in September 2023. Having worked in a range of top schools, she is a passionate advocate for all girls’ education and the confidence, camaraderie and friendship it inspires. She is proud to be part of the Girls Day School Trust (GDST) and to share a vision for the future of girls’ learning that is empowering, relevant, ambitious and fun. Having studied English at Oxford, she is committed to academic excellence and yet she knows, both as a parent and a teacher, that each child has her own journey and that the school’s community and partnership with parents is crucial so that every girl may flourish.

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