Why Girls' Schools?

Girls’ Schools are considered to be innovators where best practises specifically for the teaching girls draws upon decades of tradition while embracing the changes in a modem society. Girls’ schools know that students who are given access to best resources and who are led to understand that serious schooling is theirs for the undertaking are students who do not tum their back on life. This exactly is the culture of a girls’ school and time spent within one is an investment for life. Anecdotal evidence and opinions are not enough proof.

What does research say?

  • Girls’ Schools help counter Gender-Stereotyping in subject choice.
  • Girls in single sex schools perform better than girls in co-ed schools. Regardless of social-economic and ability levels.

A similar conclusion comes out of Australia, where Dr. Ken Rowe, Principal Research fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Research, summarised the findings in several studies involving more than 270 000 students telling audiences. 

“Co- Educational settings are limited in their capacity to accommodate the large differences in cognitive, social and developmental growth rates of boys and girls.”

Robin Robertson, a former Girls’ Schools Principal who later taught university level, says ” As a college professor I could identify students from girls schools with 90% accuracy on the first day of class. They were the young women whose hands shot up in the in the air. Who were not afraid to defend their positions, and who assumed that I would be interested in their perspective.”

Girls’ schools are creating a new paradigm for society. As institutions where girls are accustomed to being heard and where women lead in every aspect of life. Girls’ Schools are a model for the world, where girls want and deserved what’s promised. A place where men and women work side by side , respectful of each other’s voices , skills and talents. Thereby levelling life’s playing fields.

What do girls’ schools do differently than co-educational institutions?

  • They create a risk-taking environment designed for teaching, that in the words of James Joyce” Mistakes are the portals of Discovery”
  • They counter mass-media influences on female students by giving girls strengthening havens where they can effectively navigate the troubling image of girls in today’s media with balance and self-assurance
  • They support a can-do philosophy, most leaders , movers and doers at the schools are female girls. They show that any girl can be President. And girl can play the drums and any girl can take apart and reassemble a bike.
  • They ensure that learning takes centre stage without social distractions. Without the presence of boys , girls tend to display their intelligence and curiosity regardless of powerful age-determined notions of popularity, attractiveness of negative peer pressure.
  • They incorporate research indicating that team problem-solving works well for girls by providing extensive opportunities for collaborative learning.
  • They guarantee that math, science and technology education are integral curricular components. Girls are expected to participate fully in these areas and they do. 
  • They promote athletic participation as a natural way to develop team play, leadership, individual talent , physical conditioning , competence and knowing how to win and loose. 
  • They sustain a predominately female culture whose hallmarks are caring. Each girl to her fullest potential and to develop a moral context what will serve them all their lives. In so doing, girls’ schools honour women’s voices. Their female perspective and their female way of doing things.


Costa Jr, P., Terracciano, A. and McCrae, R.R., 2001. Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: robust and surprising findings. Journal of personality and social psychology, 81(2), p.322.

Riordan, C.H., 1990. Girls and boys in school: together or separate? Teachers College Press.

Riordan, C., Faddis, B.J., Beam, M., Seager, A., Tanney, A., DiBiase, R., Ruffin, M. and Valentine, J., 2008. Early Implementation of Public Single-Sex Schools: Perceptions and Characteristics. US Department of Education.

Rowe, K.J., 1988. Single-sex and mixed-sex classes: The effects of class type on student achievement, confidence and participation in mathematics. Australian Journal of Education, 32(2), pp.180-202.

Sax, L.J., Arms, E., Woodruff, M., Riggers, T. and Eagan, K., 2009. Women Graduates of Single-sex and Coeducational High Schools, Differences in Their Characteristics and the Transition to College. Sudikoff Family Institute for Education & New Media, UCLA Graduate School of Education  

Sullivan, A., Joshi, H. and Leonard, D., 2010. Single-sex schooling and academic attainment at school and through the life course. American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), pp.6-36.

Resources from the Brescia House Mental Health Webinar Series

WRITTEN BY Clarissa Farr

Clarissa Farr was high mistress of St Paul’s Girls’ School and is author of The Making of Us: Why School Matters. She is former chairman of the Girls’ Schools Association and a governor of Winchester College.

Recommended Reading List

WRITTEN BY Clarissa Farr

Clarissa Farr was high mistress of St Paul’s Girls’ School and is author of The Making of Us: Why School Matters. She is former chairman of the Girls’ Schools Association and a governor of Winchester College.

Mixed blessing: do single-sex schools have a future?

If you were starting with a blank screen to design an education system today, it seems unlikely that you would think of creating single-sex schools, any more than you would single-sex professions or single-sex restaurants. Education for life is something we do together, like working or eating. Their existence is explained by the fact that when the first were established, most girls didn’t go to school. William of Wykeham founded Winchester in 1382 for ‘poore scholars’ who would be boys — that was obvious. Dean John Colet founded St Paul’s School in 1509, taking advice from Erasmus of Rotterdam and putting the management of the 153 scholars ‘from all nacions and all countres indifferently’ into the hands of the Mercers’ Company. These men were visionaries who thought about wide access and international reach. Were they alive today, would they exclude girls from that vision? READ MORE

International Confederation of Principals - ICP Magazine April 2021

Links to International Girls' Schools Associations