- helping parents choose the best private preparatory or pre-preparatory school for their child

We were very happy to have the choice between three strong schools, and believe we have chosen the best fit for Nicolas and Alexander. Thank you for all of your help – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Mr & Mrs F H

Single-sex or Co-ed

Which is best single sex or co-education schooling?

Deciding whether to send your child to a single-sex or co-educational school is one of the main factors for parents when choosing a school. Whilst the majority of prep schools are mixed, there are a significant number of all-boys and all-girls schools.

You will find a lot of conflicting information and advice about the benefits of single sex vs co-educational education, not least on school websites extolling the virtues of one or the other.

At the senior school level there is little doubt that academically children - especially girls - in single-sex schools tend to perform better than those in co-educational settings. At girls only schools, there are 8% more grade As at A Level than for girls in co-ed schools. For GCSEs there are 13% more A*s and As. There is an expectation of success in a girls’ school and no shame in working hard.

It may seem surprising therefore that over the last ten years the number of pupils educated in girls’ private single sex schools is estimated to have fallen by about 10%. More and more boys’ schools are accepting girls , especially in the 6th form (years 12 and 13), and many parents – and students – feel that this is a more appropriate social setting for young people preparing for university.

Here we are concerned primarily with prep schools, so how do boys and girls fare at this age in single sex schools?

There is no doubt that boys and girls think, act and learn differently as a result of the way our brains develop. It is not simply that girls tend to cuddle dolls and play dress-up, while boys are more into sport and rough house games. In girls, the language areas of the brain develop early, while in boys the visual-spatial areas of the brain develop first. Boys and girls both see and hear differently. In general, at a young age, boys are more attracted to direction and motion while girls go for textures and colours. These tendencies result in boys who may struggle with languages and girls who may have little interest in sciences and maths. These are of course generalisations, but where boys and girls are educated together it is easy for stereotypes to become accentuated. In a single sex school children tend not to be so bound by these stereotypes and teachers in boys’ schools will often comment on how the boys enjoy dressing up and playing with dolls and soft toys and in girls’ schools how girls will willingly assume leadership roles without being worried about what the boys might think. A new report from the Institute of Physics (OIP) in 2012 shows that girls from single sex schools are almost 2.5 times more likely to study Physics A levels than girls who attended co-ed schools. In single sex schools, girls do not make subject choices that are gender based. Furthermore a single sex classroom gives the teacher the ability to adapt teaching style to appeal to girls.

Some parents of particular faiths will prefer their children to be educated in a single-sex environment. There are a number of private faith schools catering for, among others, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu children and we will be happy to advise you on the availability of such schools in your target locati

However, many parents favour a co-educational environment for their children at prep school age, even if they may choose to send them to a single-sex senior school. They may feel that boys and girls should learn to interact naturally with each other and that, before puberty, they are unlikely to be distracted by the presence of the opposite sex. Ultimately this is a decision that needs to be made to suit the needs of each individual child.

Whatever is YOUR preference we will act upon your instructions – so please contact us on +44 (0) 1732 368767 or fill in our Enquiry Form.