Coeducational vs single-sex schooling: a guide for parents to decide which option is best for their child

Credit: Macquarie Grammar

With conflicting advice on whether coeducational or single-sex schools are better, parents investing in independent education must decide what is best suited to their child.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) found children at coeducational schools are learning at a similar or faster rate than students at single-sex schools.

Academic Performance in coeducational vs single-sex schooling

Data does not evidence whether single-sex or coeducational schools perform better academically.

NAPLAN results in 2017 revealed that single-sex schools performed at a higher rate in literacy and numeracy.

However, a recent analysis of NAPLAN data depicted a similar performance amongst single-sex and coeducational students.

Does gender play a role in academic performance?

General wellbeing and socialisation may affect the education of children.

Evidence suggests that girls in single-sex schools may have an advantage. Girls are displaying more confidence in STEM studies in a single-sex environment.

Meriden girls are free to pursue a love of learning and academic excellence in any area they choose including science, technology, engineering, maths and sport without fear of traditional stereotyping. Cocurricular interaction with our brother school, Trinity Grammar, ensures that the girls are given the opportunity to develop a full range of social skills while still enjoying the girl-purposed facilities, teaching and opportunities of this single sex school.

Dr Julie Greenhalgh, Principal of Meriden, Anglican school for girls located in Strathfield.

The study reports that boy’s strong affinity towards STEM-related studies may influence girls’ interest.

Single-sex schools were recommended by 54% of female respondents to promote girls STEM interests. Girls in single-sex mathematics classes also displayed more confidence in their maths ability.

However, this may not indicate a better academic performance.

Post-school qualifications were similar for women who attended coeducational schooling.

The choice between single-sex and coeducational schooling may depend on your child’s confidence performing with peers of the opposite sex.

Teachers will amplify individual potential

Ultimately, a parent’s choice will depend on more than whether the school is single-sex or coeducational.

Barker’s director of Coeducation Transition Melissa Brady believes it is the “visionary leadership and presence of a supportive community of teachers” that optimise a child’s individual potential.

A shift towards coeducation schooling

Only 4% of independent schools on Sydney’s North Shore are coeducational.

coeducational vs single-sex schooling. Boys and girls at school.
Credit: Yarra Valley Grammar

With Australia’s independent single-sex schools declining, research predicts a complete disappearance by 2035.

Some of Sydney’s oldest private schools are transitioning from single-sex education to full coeducation.

Barker College Head, Phillip Heath told The Daily Telegraph, “Life is co-ed. We want to prepare young people for much more than an ATAR or even for life at university.”

Marist College North Shore has also begun accepting female students. They believe the collaboration reflects awareness, motivation, mediation, respect and engagement.

2022 marks 50 years of coeducation at St Leonard’s College. During this time, we have seen our students flourish alongside one another in an environment that is a true reflection of life beyond the school gates.

Pat Kenny, Acting Principal, St Leonard’s College.

Tips for parents making the choice:

  • Identify areas that are important to your child. Discuss with schools what they are doing in these areas. Are your children interested in academic performance, sports or performing arts?
  • Discuss with your child or a professional how they socially perform. Would your child feel more confident in a single-sex vs coeducational setting?
  • Research the schools culture, character and offerings. Decide which school most aligns with your child’s values and the areas they wish to excel in.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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