There is a continued demand for single-sex schools in the UK, so the important thing is that this choice is offered to parents and their children (nowadays children are much more involved in the decision about where they go to school, especially senior school).
Most of the single-sex schools are in the independent sector (according to the Independent Schools Council’s 2021 census, there are 161 girls’ schools with no boys above nursery age and 112 equivalent boys’ schools); around 12 per cent of state schools are single-sex.
There are many models in the independent sector, including some single-sex schools offering co-ed education in the sixth form. Single-sex education for girls is more common between Years 7 and 9.
It is now an accepted fact that boys and girls develop at a different rate, and that girls mature earlier than boys. Research has also shown that they often have a different approach to learning. Single-sex schools recognise and accommodate these differences.
The Sunday Times 2021 Parent Power league table showed that of the ten leading schools (based on exam results) seven were single-sex. However, academic performance is not every parent’s sole priority.
Other factors to take into account include:
It is important to understand that pupils at single-sex schools are not ‘locked up’ away from the opposite sex. Interaction is, of course, vital and — as critics of single-sex schools readily point out — men and women are constantly interacting in society.
Single-sex schools recognise this and many independent boys’ and girls’ schools have local partnerships which go much wider than the awkward annual sixth-form dances — for example, mixed choirs and orchestras, drama opportunities, particular subject classes, clubs and societies (including debating) and regular social opportunities. Single-sex education does not mean that girls and boys never set sight on each other for a whole term, nor does it mean that girls’ schools don’t have male teachers and vice versa.
Unless you (or your children) are opposed to a single-sex school, it may be worth including one or two of them in your search for the right school.