“How does the sex of your child impact their education?”
Interesting article in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph leading with a headline of “How does the sex of your child impact their education?” caught my eye this week. Running a girls only prep school at Knighton anything in the press which comments on the pros and cons of a single sex school deserves greater scrutiny and comment.
According to the ISC (Independent Schools Council which represents private schools), 18% of private schools are now single sex establishments down from 21.4% in 2010 and more of these are all-girls schools. Even more stark, in 1996 there were 2500 single-sex schools, this has fallen to 400 in 2018. Many single-sex schools who have made the transition to offer co-education have thereby increased their income stream, appealed to a larger number of families and have benefited from reduced fees for siblings.
Knighton is a bit of a hybrid model with girls and boys in our pre-prep and only girls in the prep part of the school. At the end of Year 2 the boys leave to join other schools in the area while the girls move up to Year 3 in the prep school and stay until the end of Year 8.
Having worked at co-ed, all-girls and all-boys schools previously, I feel I am reasonably well placed to highlight what’s different about the single sex education Knighton offers. Of course, there are also many similarities which all types of school share. The most important being the quality of the teaching staff which determines the sort of school you run. Children spend the vast majority of their day in front of teachers therefore it follows that they are their greatest role models and influencers. Shiny new buildings and facilities are all very well but they still need dedicated committed staff who inspire and love working with children.
In a girls prep school it goes without saying that the whole school environment is geared towards girls. Everything we do here is girl oriented; we’re about giving the girls the confidence to know that there are no ceilings to what they can achieve. For some girls confidence grows more slowly than for others. There is no magic quick fix wand we can wave but what we can do is provide them with the environment and nurturing culture which helps them grow in confidence. Recognising there is a thin line between bravado and deep inner confidence also ensures that when the girls leave Knighton they are ready for their next (big) step.
For parents considering between a single sex or a co-ed school, they must weigh up what kind of education do they want for their child? Putting aside every consideration when selecting a school and stripping things right back to basics, the key question is what sort of educational environment do they want their child to grow up between the ages of 7-years and 13-years? A single sex or a co-ed environment?
In the Daily Telegraph article, Samantha Price, Headmistress of Benenden in Kent, says, “Our aim is to get girls to be independent as possible”. I’d say, “Our aim is to get girls to be as confident as possible”.