Posted on July 27, 2016
Confidence and achievement – single sex, co-education, or the best of both worlds @Tintern?
You may have seen the article in “The Age” newspaper last Thursday (4 August) about girls’ performance in Mathematics in single gender vs co-educational classrooms. This continues an ongoing dialogue that has been played out through the media in recent months on whether single gender outcomes are better than co-educational outcomes, and whether any achievement benefit outweighs the adjustment required of single gender school students when they move out of school into the broader (and co-educational) world. Interestingly, this last point is one I frequently hear at the reunions of Tintern alumni from our girls-only eras that I attend – the difficulty of learning to relate to males when you have spent your time with girls only at school and the effect this has on the first year out of school in particular.
The article quoted a Melbourne University study which nominated Year 4 as the earliest year measured where confidence differences in the classroom began between the genders and that these enlarged to Year 8. While only one study, it certainly reinforces the research conclusions Tintern used when we created our together/apart/together Parallel Model across ELC, Junior and Middle Schools and Senior College (and I must say, it also supports my own experience). It is clear that both genders, not only girls, benefit in multiple ways from being grouped in like-gendered classes in key developmental years.
My own experience is based on this being the first year of my (lengthy!) teaching career where I have taught Science to an all-girls class. The difference in the attitude of girls in this class compared to previous Year 7, 8 and 9 classes at co-educational classes is marked. Again, it is only one class, but curiosity, risk-taking and willingness to show academic bravery and leadership are all present in the girls this class in far greater quantities than I have seen in girls I have taught in co-educational schools. This does align with the Melbourne University results and I would go further and say that the difference appears to me most marked in the (apparently) least naturally confident girls.
Our boys approach their learning differently being with their male peers in those crucial middle years too, but in different ways. I see deeper and more authentic mateship and connection more frequently, less ‘posturing’ or showing off with girls not present, particularly in the latter years of Middle School and a genuinely decent masculinity and care for others is mentored and demonstrated by and to our boys.
The bringing together of our boys and girls at Year 10 is also a critical part of our model. IB Diploma subjects and the bulk of most VCE students’ VCE subjects commence in Year 11. Students need to feel stability and confidence to attempt these and co-educational classes commencing in Year 10 both build strongly on the confidence and performance benefits of our parallel classes and also enable adjustment to a real-world environment before the significant loads of Year 11 and Year 12 in IB, VCE, or VCE/VET.
As the best performing school in the outer east, our VCE, VCE/VET and IB students also prove that our co-educational Senior College environment enables girls and boys to achieve their personal best too!
At Tintern we truly have the best of both worlds!
Factis non Verbis
Please view the Video Blog below from our Principal, Mr Bradley Fry.