Saturday 3rd October 2020
The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, said that Co-education creates a feeling of comradeship. He advocated teaching of both the male and female sexes in the same institution without showing any discrimination in imparting education.
'A strong reason for co-education is that separating children for a number of years means they will not be mixing and learning about each other.' - Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.
‘There are no overriding advantages for single-sex schools on educational grounds. Studies all over the world have failed to detect any major differences.' - Professor Alan Smithers, director of education and employment research at the University of Buckingham.
‘Boys' boorishness is tamed by the civilising influence of the girls; girls' cattiness is tamed by the more relaxed approach of the boys. It's a win-win situation.' - Cathedral School parent
It s our experience that friendships develop in a very natural way in co-educational schools. This happens because there are so many activities, societies and clubs in the school in which girls and boys take part in a pleasant, well-supervised environment. Friendships develop naturally and genuinely because the mixing is a by-product of the event. This friendly atmosphere continues into the classroom allowing young people to express their views openly and assertively.
For both girls and boys co-education provides a more realistic way of training young people to take their places naturally in the wider community of men and women. It helps to break down the misconceptions of each sex about the other and provides an excellent foundation for the development of realistic, meaningful and lasting relationships in later life.
A co-educational school is also very successful in challenging sexist attitudes. Many subjects in secondary school allow for considerable classroom discussion and debate. In a co-educational school both the female and male perspectives will be explored in such discussions and this is a very important learning experience for all. In so doing they learn that 'equality' does not mean 'sameness' - that men and women often have different perspectives on the same issues and that each approach has a great deal to offer the other.
In academic terms it should be noted that both boys and girls at the Cathedral School attain the same distinction in terms of examination results: the percentage of A*/A grades at GCSE here is equally high for both genders, indicating that neither gender is disadvantaged by the other, in fact the reverse is true, both are enhanced by the presence of the other.
Advocates of single-sex schooling sometimes make hefty claims about the academic advantages of such schools, pointing to statistically significant disparities in examination results. In truth such differences may be due more to the socio-economic background of the pupils at the school or the selectivity of the intake. In our own situation, the Cathedral School proves that co-education can be extremely successful academically, and with all the social and personal development advantages too.