Why I hated going to an all girls school

We were told boys were too ‘distracting’

I grew up in an area full of single sex schools, so there was very little choice when it came to deciding which all girls secondary school to move to from my all girls primary school.

Whenever anyone complained or questioned the single sex dynamic, we were told that single sex schools achieve better grades because there are less distractions. I call bullshit on this. When we grow up we will probably work in mixed sex environments. No one is frightened of us being distracted then, even though we may be working in high pressure, important jobs where a lot depends on our performance. Who cares if the spotty fifteen-year-old across the room prevents you from ever fully grasping circle theorems? You’re probably never going to use them anyway.

No ‘distracting’ boys here

It’s derogatory to suggest that boys and girls distract each other. I cared about my school education and was able to balance my life. Do adults really think so little of teenagers that they believe that they’re unable to prioritise and find balance in their life? On the other hand, if it is true that you are someone who is likely to be distracted by the other gender, when you go to university you’re just going to have to get used to it. Your degree is probably more important than any school exams but now suddenly distraction from the opposite gender is no longer an issue, apparently.

Look how focused we all were without any boys there

The term distraction could imply a couple of things. Either it is working off the evidence that girls do better in school exams than boys do and boys tend to be more disruptive, or it is suggesting that boys and girls can’t be around each other without wanting to form romantic relationships. Surely in 2016 we should be dispelling sexist stereotypes and heteronormativity to make schools more reflective of the real world.

Single sex schools seem unbelievably backwards to me now. If a company purposefully only hired men or only hired women, it would be called up for discrimination. In my town, the best state secondary school was an all boys school. There was an opportunity for girls to attend in sixth form but by then the entry requirements were much higher and it was only for those who wanted to study maths and science. If girls achieve better grades in exams then why is the best school in the area still an all boys school?

Introducing boys into sixth form at my school made no difference to the artificiality of the gender ratio in the school. There were around 30 boys for 150 girls and, as a humanities student, most of my classes still had no boys in them. Now I’m at uni studying a subject that it made up of nearly all girls, but I don’t mind anymore because it’s out of choice. It is the principal of single sex education that I think is outdated and unnecessary.

A rare sighting of a male in the school; my history teacher

Single sex education suggests that there are such huge inherent differences between males and females that we must work apart or risk failure. It would be much more progressive to teach children that men and women are all just people and break down the divide between genders.

I understand that schools want to get the best grades out of their students that they can, and there is evidence that single sex schools often do produce better grades. However, surely we should value students as more than just grade producing machines and prepare them for life after school.