While there exists co-ed and single sex schools, there will always be debate of their value, worth and benefits and, as an extension, which is the better? It can be an enormously emotive and divisive issue.
While gender composition of a school may be vital for some, I believe it can distract from the deeper consideration and declaration of the heart of good teaching, learning and education. If the structure of either coed or single sex schools was the defining factor of what makes THE difference, then it would be a debate very worth having. From my experience and learning, there are more central elements to consider and ensure are embedded within a school language, culture and practice. That is not to say that we should be mindful, that at times, there will be differing needs and structuring of the learning environment which will benefit girls or boys.
Significantly, the research by educational researchers such as John Hattie have consistently demonstrated a range of gender neutral factors that make a substantial difference in student learning. From his extensive research, Hattie makes the key point that the “biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers.”
For the time being, there will still exist the option of coed or single sex schools, and for some, this remains an important distinction. How we ensure there is great quality and care in the learning, development and wellbeing of all students is always at the forefront of my thinking. I suggest that it is critical to look beyond the gender composition, and at the heart of what makes for excellent teaching and learning, regardless of the background, capacity, ability or gender of the students.
For me, what matters most is not whether a school contains co-ed or single sex students, but how we put into practice what best, supports, engages, inspires and empowers them.
Click here to listen to my interview with Mel Dee on PowerFM discussing the pros and cons of co-ed and single sex schools.