Benefits of girls’ schools

Benefits of girls’ schools

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 do better, in terms of educational attainment, at single sex schools.

Dr Alice Sullivan – Institute of Education, University of London

Freedom from stereotypes

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.

Independent research by the Institute of Physics, for example, has found that girls who attended girls’ schools were significantly more likely to study Physics to A Level than girls in co-ed schools, and this proved to be the case in both state and independent schools(1). Research also suggests that the largest increases in girls’ participation in sport tend to happen in single-sex contexts.(2)

Leadership opportunities

Girls’ schools create environments where girls feel confident to take charge and put 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, developing resilience and self-confidence to stand them in good stead when they go on to encounter university, work and life.

Academic excellence

Girls who attend GSA girls’ schools tend to achieve a disproportionately large share of the top grades. For example, in 2019, the proportion of top A-star-A grades at A level achieved by GSA students (53.1%) was more than twice the national average (25.2%) for England. The proportion of A-star-C grades among GSA students (92.2%) was over a fifth greater than the national average (75.5%).

Maths is the most popular A level subject in many GSA girls’ schools and, in the country as a whole, GSA girls who sit A level physics account for around 13% of all entries, while being responsible for as many as 25% of the A-star grades.*

Girls in all GSA schools combined can be twice as likely as other girls to take French or Spanish at A level. For example, the GSA girls who sit A level French account for around 12% of all entries, while being responsible for as many as 32% of the A-star grades.*

*DfE exam data – exact statistics vary from year to year.

Further reading

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

(1) Institute of Physics It’s Different for Girls – girls at girls’ schools more likely to study A Level physics than girls at co-ed schools (in both the state and independent sectors).

Institute of Physics Closing Doors – single-sex schools 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 and Nicole Chapman

Single-Sex Education Belongs in the 21st Century by Nick Morrison (Forbes)

What’s the Evidence on Single Sex Schools the Education Media Centre interviews Dr Alice Sullivan about her research on single-sex schooling

Girls ‘get better GCSE results in all-girls schools’ BBC coverage (2016) of the SchoolDash analysis of exam data

Single-sex schools: cui bono? By Timo Hannay, SchoolDash

(2) The Effectiveness of Interventions to Increase Physical Activity Among Adolescent Girls: a Meta-analysis by Biddle, Braithwaite & Pearson

National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (USA)

Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australia (AGSA)

European Association of Single Sex Education (EASSE)

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