WHATEVER the reasons behind the decision, Guildford Grammar’s move to become a co-educational school is a good one.
While some may question why Guildford Grammar has decided to change after spending the first 100 years of its life as a boys’ school, moving to a model that more closely reflects wider society is to be commended.
Firstly, there is little evidence that single-sex classrooms produce better outcomes for students.
A major meta-analysis of 184 studies involving 1.6 million students published in the Psychological Bulletin in 2014 concluded that there was little evidence that single-sex classrooms offered any educational or social benefits.
There is, however, research showing that segregating classrooms by gender can feed stereotypes. These stereotypes include ideas that girls and boys learn differently. Neuroscience does not support this idea but research indicates that when teachers believe girls and boys learn differently then they treat them differently. These stereotypes can end up limiting students’ learning.
Gender stereotypes can also be reinforced by single-sex schools, with research showing that gender stereotypes are stronger in single-sex schools than co-educational schools.
One major positive of opening up the school to female students will be exposing students to a more diverse range of classmates.
We learn to respect differences best when we are exposed to people who are different from us. Wider society is not segregated by gender and our schools should be no different.
Dr Shean is a lecturer in ECU’s School of Education.