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Girls’ school students feel more supported than their co-educational peers, new research says

Toorak College
Oct 22, 2019, 9:05:55 AM

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Selecting the right school for your child can be one of the hardest decisions to make to ensure they have the best opportunity at a thriving future. New research shows that girls' schools offer more nurture and support within their culture and environment, highlighting that girls in single-sex schools feel much more encouraged by teachers and peers.

In an American study, girls schools capitalise on girls’ unique learning styles as opposed to focusing on keeping students engaged as more relevant in co-educational schools. 95 percent of students from a single-sex school felt supported by teachers compared to 84 percent from co-educational school students. Furthermore, 87 percent of single-sex students felt supported by their own peers as opposed to 73 percent of co-educational students.  

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Single-sex schools provide social skill building

Even though girls’ schools have shown to boost academic results and provide better job outcomes for its students, there is also the social piece that is often forgotten in this conversation. Many theorise that without the presence of boys (or girls in an all boys school) that the students miss out on a social setting. Students who attend a single-sex school show more enthusiasm to subjects, engage with other students more openly and feel a greater sense of empowerment. Girls feel encouraged to speak up, ask questions, run for leadership positions in IT, Science and Sport and act more freely without feeling ridiculed. With a vast array of sporting and performing arts opportunities at a school like Toorak, girls can feel supported to give everything a go and discover their passion without judgement or distraction. More so, this kind of culture, regardless of gender, transcends into the way students treat one another, learning to respect and celebrate others’ successes and support them in their hardships. Here at Toorak, the teaching methods are more focused on team building and cooperation skills, which are vital to be equipped with when entering the world beyond school. Although many projects are focused on personal development, part of the growing process is becoming a team player within the school and wider community so that they can develop a strong sense of awareness of others around them. It is these social skills of team player, empathy and respect that will set the girls up for a bright future both professionally and personally.

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Single-sex students are more task-focused

At Toorak College, our girls’ classes average at a small class size of just 17. That means our girls can strengthen friendships and get that individualised learning that larger schools cannot offer. 

As reported in TIME magazine in a 2015 article about the hidden gender bias in classrooms, “Teachers spend up to two thirds of their time talking to male students; they also are more likely to interrupt girls but allow boys to talk over them.” This is known to be the case, not just in Australia, but around the world.  Our goal is to ensure that our girls are focused on growing into the person they wish to become, determined to remain passionate about their interests and confident to achieve their academic best. With so many opportunities available at Toorak College paired with an environment of young females who want nothing more than to achieve and prosper, it creates a dynamic place for personal growth. It has been suggested time and time again that same-sex schools improve self confidence, demonstrate stronger study habits and consider themselves as critical thinkers.  

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Single-sex schools create an equal world environment

The world we live in is not an ideal setting for women, however as we progress, the times are definitely changing for the better. Throughout history and even still today, women are not equally paid as men in similar roles, women are the minority on executive boards and are more subject to workplace discrimination and scrutiny. At Toorak, we do not seek to replicate the real world, we seek to challenge it. Why would we aim to mirror this setting in a school as by doing so would only set our girls up for disempowerment and doubt of self-worth. If our girls are aware of the real world dynamics but have the courage, confidence and curiosity to change the world we live in, that is far more valuable to our humanity. With more females braving our world and challenging expectations of who and what a woman should be in the workforce, the quicker we can combat these gender inequalities. Research tells us that girls who attend single-sex schools are more likely to achieve well at school and aspire to attend university, have higher self belief, are more likely to study STEM subjects and are more likely to earn 20 percent higher wages and hold executive positions. 

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These statistics show that single-sex schools are outperforming co-educational schools not just on an academic level, but also on a social level. Students feel supported by staff and peers, which is a testament to the culture and respect cemented in single-sex schools from the very beginning of a child’s academic journey. It also demonstrates that students feel encouraged to pursue any avenue they like and can grab opportunities that will only enhance their personal growth.

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