Although we must recognise it as a generalisation, all teachers appreciate that there are differences between the way girls and boys learn. At a girls’ school, teachers can specialise in teaching girls. This does not mean just playing to girls’ strengths, but also allowing teachers to develop the elements of learning which many girls find more difficult in an environment where they can feel comfortable and confident to take risks and make mistakes.
Any school with a long history in the UK started as a single sex school. It is ironic that the move towards co-education came out of the feminist movement and its drive for equal opportunities, as it is girls’ schools which can do much more for equality than co-educational environments. At girls’ schools, girls do not just have opportunities, they have all the opportunities. Girls have the opportunity to take the lead in fields which are often male-dominated in a co-educational environment. At Truro High School, for example, we have a thriving engineering programme, based around eight Greenpower cars, which involves more than 10% of the pupils in the Senior School. Our pupils have the confidence to do this because they are free from the social pressures and gender stereotypes which they might encounter in other environments.
Girls’ schools are often viewed from the outside as overly-safe, old fashioned environments and academic hothouses. This perception could not be further from the truth. Whilst girls’ schools do offer a place where girls can build confidence, at the same time they are places where girls get stuck in and have a go; where they commit fully to their passions; where they are prepared to truly aim high. They go on to lead the way in all fields. Examine the women in the top echelons of any field and you will find a disproportionate number who attended girls’ only schools.
A single sex education does not mean a single sex life, and at Truro High School we ensure that our girls have opportunities to work with and socialise with boys.