Co-education

 

We made the decision to move to co-education in the late 1990s because we wanted the outstanding education which we offer – academically selective but with a superb array of co-curricular opportunities – to be open to both boys and girls. And we felt both boys and girls would benefit from working alongside each other. We want our girls and boys to learn to work together in an environment which reflects society, and to enjoy future success, emotional wellbeing and happiness in later life.

We feel that the history of the last twenty years has proved us right.

Today King’s is a vibrant, happy school where girls and boys learn collaboratively together. Boys and girls form friendships and develop socially on a healthy and deep level: gender is quite simply not an issue. We obviously can only speak for ourselves, but having had these twenty or so years of experience, there are some observations on co-education which we feel qualified to offer.

Girls and boys are used to playing together in nurseries and playgroups, and moving to school is a natural progression. At King’s we have a wide range of activities and equipment in the playground and the classroom to appeal to boys and girls. We find that stereotyping children’s behaviour at this age is potentially damaging, and we think it is both important and natural that boys and girls mix as friends.

In Willow Lodge, young children form relaxed and fun relationships regardless of gender. It is important that we learn from an early age how to interact with one another, developing essential life skills for the future.”
Mrs Margaret Ainsworth, Head of Willow Lodge.

We have as many quiet, shy and thoughtful boys as we have boisterous and lively girls! The secret and skill lies in recognising individual children’s traits and developing them.

Friendships, activity and learning develop strongly during the junior years. It’s particularly important for relationships to develop healthily and strongly between boys and girls, though there are some particular issues which start to come to light for girls, and we actively encourage discussion about body image and other topics.

The boys are fun to learn with; they think about things differently to me and I learn from them. I think they learn from us too!”
Junior School Girl

King’s staff understand what makes girls tick and helps them as individuals to develop, and because we (unusually for a junior school) also have a balance of male teachers, the same is true of the boys.

During senior years, boys and girls learn to work well in teams, and as they mature they increasingly spend more time together outside the classroom and socially. The clubs and activities are increasingly more appealing to an equal number of boys and girls and they share many more common interests- rowing, drama, music.

“Since joining King’s my confidence has soared. I enjoy the academic challenge and my grades have improved as a result. I now have higher career goals compared to my aspirations when I was at my previous single sex school; I’d really like to be a lawyer. I love sport also and have embraced every opportunity. I can’t believe I’ve only been here a term; I felt instantly at home.”
Senior School Girl

It is important to us that girls see boys succeeding in activities, and boys see girls succeeding: this will lead to a healthy society!

We find that learning is also enriched by having both boys and girls in classrooms, an experience which has been widely reported.

Do boys or girls do better academically in co-ed schools?

We can only speak for King’s: we know we enable children of both sexes to flourish and this is borne out by our academic results. Our girls do incredibly well in public examinations- at A Level this year their results rival the top 20 girls’ schools in the country and surpass those of any other Chester school.

Their aspirations are equal to the boys and they go to the similar universities – 6 of the 12 Oxbridge offers this year were to King’s girls.

We believe that working together allows both boys and girls to see things from other perspectives than their own. Which may explain why both sexes seem to achieve more when working together.

Do girls thrive as well in a co-ed school?

We believe so! The co-ed environment does not run the risk of an emotionally intense environment, and we find that boys and girls work and play alongside each other and value and admire each other.

We believe our girls and boys both develop the confidence to express their view in the presence of opposite-sex peers, respect for their peers of opposite sex, are much more likely to make more friends with peers of the opposite sex.

What about traditional subject choices?

People often wonder whether traditional subject choices are influenced by school type. In truth, there is no reliable evidence of this: girls choose “masculine” subjects in equally the same numbers in a co-ed environment. King’s won a national award for teaching of Physics to girls in recent years:

 In a mixed peer setting, we find that boys become more comfortable voicing opinions in the presence of girls. They learn how to interact and gain respect for female classmates.

It is second nature for girls and boys at King’s to sit and chat to each other. They have experiences of the growing up process together and they have an increasing understanding of each other.

What kind of school should we choose?

Preparing students for the 21st Century demands an educational environment that is reflective of today’s society. We believe that boys and girls at King’s are prepared for the co-educational experience at university. They have had exposure to male and female role models, a diverse values and lifestyles, different leadership styles, wide-ranging opinions and ideas and a healthy respect for the other sex.

Of course the most important ingredients for success for children of either sex is the quality of the school, the leadership and the teaching. But we are proud of the success King’s has made of co-education, and of what both boys and girls have shown can be achieved.

You may be interested to read more here.

Further reading is also available here.