The benefits of girls’ schools

The Benefits of Girls’ Schools


Freedom from stereotypes

One of the most important things you can give your daughter is self-confidence and self-belief – qualities that girls’ schools deliver in abundance.

Girls’ schools minimise stereotyped, gender-weighted expectations. There is no such thing as a girl’s subject or a boy’s subject and girls are free to follow their inclinations with little of the pressure they might otherwise feel.

The facts speak for themselves. Recent independent research by the Institute of Physics, for example, found that girls who attend independent girls’ schools are significantly more likely to study Physics to A Level than girls in any other kind of UK school, including independent co-ed schools.

Girls at Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) schools are more likely to study ‘difficult’ subjects such as Sciences, Maths and Languages. They are:

  • 75% more likely to take Maths A-level
  • 70% more likely to take Chemistry
  • two and a half times as likely to take Physics
  • over twice as likely to take most languages.¹

Leadership opportunities

Girls’ schools create environments where girls feel okay about taking charge and putting themselves forward.

With only girls in the classroom and on the sports field, both intellectual and physical confidence can grow. Every girl has every opportunity to become a leader, a form captain, a Head of House. They learn not just how to shoulder responsibility, but also how to take risks, inspire and lead others. It’s true that ‘real life’ is co-ed, but it’s also true that teenagers are not adults and that by allowing them the opportunity to develop a strong sense of self away from the scrutiny of the opposite sex, girls’ – and boys’ – schools can help children to become more confident adults. By the time they enter the co-ed world of university, work and life, they have acquired the life skills and self-confidence to succeed.


Academic Excellence

  • Half of the Sunday Times top 10 independent schools are GSA schools.*
  • Six of the top 11 schools for sending students to Russell Group universities are GSA schools².
  • Four of the top 11 schools for sending students to Oxbridge are GSA schools².

Girls who attend GSA schools achieve a disproportionately large share of the top grades in ‘difficult’ subjects. Bucking national trends, over 55% of girls at GSA schools take a STEM subject at A-level. Just under two fifths take Maths and just over two fifths take at least one science. In Physics, for example, 13.4% of all entries from girls come from GSA schools, (above the 5.2% baseline), but they are awarded 25.9% of the A*s and 20.5% of the A or A* grades.

A quarter of girls in GSA schools take at least one language A-level and they are twice as likely to take French or Spanish at A level. In French, for example, the percentage of entries from GSA schools is 12.2%, but they are awarded 31.7% of the A* grades and 21.1% of the A or A*s. See Girls Who Go To Girls’ Schools Do Better At ‘Hard’ A Levels and How Good Are Girls?


Further Reading

Effective Pedagogies for Girls’ Learning – A review of recent research commissioned by GDST by Mike Younger, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge (2016)

Single Sex Schools and ‘Pupil Innocence’ – by former GSA President Alun Jones, Independent Schools Magazine (2016)

5 Reasons to Choose A Girls’ School – Boarding School Review (2016)

Are Single Sex Schools the Way Forward? – Private Schools Magazine (2015)

National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (USA) research into alumnae school experience, transition to college, academic interests and career aspirations.

Institute of Physics It’s Different for Girls – girls at independent girls’ schools are four times as likely to study A Level physics than girls at co-ed state schools

Institute of Physics Closing Doors – single-sex schools are significantly better than co-educational schools at countering the gender imbalances in progression to A Level English, maths, biology, physics, psychology and economics.

School Selection by Gender: Why it Works  by Alice Phillips (GSA) and Nicole Chapman (ASGS)

National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (USA)
Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australia (AGSA)
European Association of Single Sex Education (EASSE)

* Sunday Times Parent Power 2015
¹ from DfE 2012 exam data – GSA girls compared with all girls in all schools
² Department for Education leaver destination figures, as analysed by the Telegraph (2011 figures, first released 2014).