The Myth Of Single Sex Education

In 2014, the American Psychological Association published a landmark global meta-analysis on single sex education.

The analysis covered 184 academic studies, 1.6 million pupils and 21 nations.

It concluded that there is no educational advantage to single sex schooling

In 2009 the O.E.C.D. reviewed attainment in single sex vs co-ed schools. It covered 30 nations in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) .

The report found that any apparent gains made by single sex schools disappeared when socio-economic factors were taken into account.

It concluded that “The evidence from PISA does not support the notion that females tend to do better in a single-sex environment.”

These are just two of many worldwide academic studies on single sex vs co-educational schooling. No substantial evidence has proven girls do better in single sex schools. Even though there has been decades of research. Girls do no better either academically or socially in single sex schools.

(See more studies on our Academic Research page.)

Transition From Primary To Secondary School

However, transition from primary to secondary school is known to have a significant long term impact on academic achievement and pupil well-being.

A 2010 study followed 2000 Scottish pupils from 135 primary schools on their transition journey. Their progress was then monitored over the next 8 years. This included high school and beyond.

The study found that “a poorer school transition predicted higher levels of depression and lower attainment” in pupils at 15 and 18/19 years old.

Friendships are important too!

A 2018 study followed 593 UK school children. It found that “Helping maintain children’s best friendships during the transition to secondary school may contribute to higher academic performance and better mental health.”

By contrast, the single sex policy at Notre Dame High scatters children from Notre Dame primary to as many as 12 different high schools each year. This breaks up peer groups and separates siblings. More importantly, this limits opportunities for schools to collaborate in the primary to secondary transition process.

However, a co-ed Notre Dame High would allow all children from feeder primary schools to transition to their local secondary school together. Additionally, it would allow the schools to closely collaborate and manage a smooth transition process.

This would have a long term positive impact on educational attainment and well-being.

Closing The Attainment Gap

Closing the attainment gap between pupils from rich and poor backgrounds is a huge challenge for education in Scotland.

In Glasgow the attainment gap is a particular concern because of the large number of deprived areas in the city.

Source: Evening Times School League Tables 2018

SIMD is the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. Levels 1&2 identify most deprived areas. In Glasgow, Hyndland Secondary has the lowest SIMD 1&2 level. 30% of Hyndland pupils are SIMD 1&2 level. Drumchapel High has the
highest SIMD 1&2 level. 93% of
Drumchapel High pupils are SIMD 1&2 level.

On average, Glasgow high schools have 61% of pupils attending from deprived areas.

Notre Dame High Has Significantly Below Average SIMD

Notre Dame High School draws pupils from all areas of Glasgow.
In contrast, its SIMD level does not reflect the average SIMD for Glasgow Secondary schools.

Only 45% of the Notre Dame High current school roll are from SIMD 1&2. This is 16% below average and joint 7th lowest among Glasgow’s secondary schools. 

If Notre Dame High became co-educational more local primary schools could be included. This would enable more children to go and a larger catchment area created .

GCC Education Services have proposed St Joseph’s Primary (85-90% SIMD 1&2) and St Patrick’s Primary (35-40% SIMD 1&2) are included in Notre Dame High co-ed catchment. Likewise St Charles’ Primary (55-60% SIMD 1&2) should also be considered due to its proximity to Notre Dame High.

Many pupils from these 3 primary schools are currently transported to high schools miles from home. Notre Dame High is their closest secondary school but the single sex policy excludes them.

Notre Dame High should allow boys and girls. More local children from diverse backgrounds would be able to attend. This includes girls and boys from deprived areas. Local boys and girls would be able to transition to Notre Dame High together. One of Glasgow’s best performing high schools would finally be open to all local children. Notre Dame High is a school close to their homes and within their local community.

Will Co-education Reduce Attainment At Notre Dame High?

In a word, no.

There is no good evidence that gender segregation improves attainment.

In recent years, West of Scotland
secondary schools have successfully transitioned from single sex to co-education. None of these schools have reported a drop in attainment.

In the 1980s/1990s the University of Sydney researched co-education. They studied two schools that changed from single sex to co-education.

For 10 years academic performance and pupil self-concept was assessed. The study ran before, during and after transition.

The research found that neither girls nor boys were disadvantaged in co-education. However, there were “social advantages for girls and boys attending the two coeducational schools”. Student self-concept was a key success measure.

Notre Dame High will continue to thrive as a co-educational school.

Co-education at Notre Dame High will open the school up to more girls and boys from disadvantaged areas. It will allow children from diverse backgrounds to benefit from a managed transition from their local primary to their local high school together.