Understanding the Experience of Girls from Disadvantaged Backgrounds and Girls with SEND in Single-Sex Schools
The Girls’ Schools Association established the UK’s biggest cross-sector research partnership in single-sex girls’ schools in 2022, representing a unified collaboration between the independent and state sectors.
In this first report, developed in partnership with ImpactEd, GSA provides a welcome focus to the experience and outcomes of disadvantaged students and students with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) from single-sex girls’ schools.
Over the past few years, and particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, several research projects revealed that teenage girls can often have worse non-cognitive outcomes than their male peers. In light of these findings, GSA sought to understand outcomes for girls and investigate how different educational environments can impact upon their experiences.
Girls’ schools buck the trend in terms of girls’ participation in male dominated sports
New research – released at the GSA’s Annual Conference for Heads on 22 November – indicates that girls who attend GSA girls’ schools are nearly 5 times more likely to play cricket than at another type of school. In addition, a girl at a GSA school is 30% more likely to play football.
Following reports by the Youth Sports Trust (YST, 2022) and Childwise which highlighted concerning findings about girls participation in sport, GSA conducted two short polls of members at the start of the 2022/23 academic year.
Soft Skills Development and Gender – An analysis of mental toughness at UK schools
New research – released at the GSA’s annual Summer Briefing for headteachers on June 14 – indicates that girls who attend single-sex girls’ schools are generally more confident and more emotionally in control than girls in coeducational schools.
The ‘mental toughness’ research also indicates that the pandemic may have exacerbated any gaps and differences that already existed, with girls who are more mentally tough potentially having an advantage in dealing with the pandemic compared with less mentally tough girls.
Girls’ Academic Attainment
Analysis of the Department for Education (DfE) School Comparison data for England for the academic year 2018-2019 shows that:
- Girls in girls’ schools are 2.5 times as likely to take Further Maths and Physics at A Level – compared to girls in other schools.
- Uptake of other sciences is also higher with Biology 40% higher, Chemistry 77% higher and Computer Science 72% higher in girls’ schools compared to girls in other schools.
- On average, students in girls’ schools outperform students in co-ed schools, at both KS4 and KS5
- Girls in girls’ schools perform higher than students in co-ed schools across all schools and also when looking at independent schools only.
- Higher attainment can be seen when looking at all subjects as a whole, and also for Maths and English separately
GSA Members can access the GSA Research Library in the MemberZone (login required) to keep abreast of the latest evidence-based insights. Each week this library is updated with newly released relevant research.
Other sources of useful information:
The Independent Schools Council (ISC) provides a picture of where independent schools sit within the UK’s education landscape, conducting regular research such as the Annual Census as well as bespoke research to inform the work of schools in the sector.
The International Coalition of Girls’ Schools (ICGS) in the Unites States conducts, sponsors, and disseminates research on the issues of importance to girls’ schools, education, and development.