The Myth Of Single-Sex Education

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

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

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

Another comprehensive 2009 report by the O.E.C.D. reviewed attainment in single-sex and co-ed schools across 30 different countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) .

It found that any apparent gains made by single-sex schools were wiped out after socio-economic factors were taken into account.

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


Will Co-education Reduce Attainment At Notre Dame High?

In a word, NO.

There is no good evidence that gender segregation in schools improves attainment.  Factors found to have the largest impact are small class sizes, affluence and parental involvement.

Single sex schooling in Scotland has been in decline for many years. A number of schools in the West of Scotland have successfully transitioned from single sex to co-education over recent decades. None have reported a drop in attainment but they have all described many positive benefits gained from the transition.

During the late 80s/early 90s Dr Ian Smith from the University of Sydney uniquely studied the journey of two schools from single-sex to co-education. He assessed the impact on both academic performance and pupil self-concept over a 10 year period, before, during and after transition.

The study concluded that “Coeducation was found in this study to have no academic disadvantages for either girls or boys.” However, there were
“social advantages for girls and boys attending the two coeducational schools, as measured by student self-concept.”

A co-educational Notre Dame High will continue to thrive. Ending gender-based exclusion will allow all children, both girls and boys, from diverse backgrounds to attend their local high school together. This will have a hugely positive impact on the school, the children, their families and the local community.

Evidence from both academic studies and lived experience suggests that it will have no negative impact on attainment.

Impact Of Transition From Primary To Secondary

The impact of transition from primary to secondary school, however, is known to have significant long term effects on academic achievement and pupil well-being.

A 2010 study on primary to secondary transition in the West of Scotland is one of many over decades of research to find that transition has a significant long lasting effect on pupils. 

And friendships are important too!

“Helping maintain children’s best friendships during the transition to secondary school may contribute to higher academic performance and better mental health.” Ng-Knight et al 2018

By contrast, the single sex policy at Notre Dame High scatters children from feeder primaries to as many as 12 different high schools. This breaks up peer groups and separates siblings. It also, importantly, 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. It would allow the schools to closely collaborate and manage a smooth transition process. This would have long term positive effects 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 Time School League Tables 2018

Among Glasgow’s catchment high schools, the percentage of kids from SIMD 1&2
(Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 20% most deprived areas), ranges from a low of 30% (Hyndland Secondary) to a high of 93% (Drumchapel High).

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

Notre Dame High Has Below Average % Of Pupils From Deprived Areas

Notre Dame High School draws pupils from all areas of Glasgow. Because of this, it may be expected to reflect the demographic of the city as a whole, but it does not.

Only 45% of the school roll are from SIMD 1&2.

To clarify, this is 16% below average and joint 7th lowest among Glasgow’s secondary schools. 

Benefits Of Changing To Co-education

If Notre Dame High became co-educational, the catchment area would be expanded to include more local primary schools.

GCC Education Services have suggested the following schools.

-St Charles’ Primary (55-60% SIMD 1&2) 

-St Joseph’s Primary (85-90% SIMD 1&2) 

-St Patrick’s Primary (35-40% SIMD 1&2) 

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

In contrast, a co-ed Notre Dame High would give many local children from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to transition together to one of Glasgow’s best performing Council schools. This includes boys and girls from disadvantaged areas . The school would be a short distance from their homes and within their local community.

This will be beneficial in improving life chances and closing the attainment gap.