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Why choose a girls' school

Headmistress, Charlotte Avery: "As the 2017 President of the GSA (Girls’ Schools Association) I am clear about the benefits to young women of a single-sex environment for their schooling."

Single-sex education has a proud tradition of academic excellence in this country, whether it be all boys’ boarding such as Eton or Winchester or all girls’ boarding such as at our sister school, St Mary’s Ascot, mainly day provision for boys for example Westminster or St Paul’s, or full day provision for girls at St Paul’s Girls’ School or North London Collegiate.

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Clearly it is a model offering strengths and benefits to enrich students’ educational journeys. Students benefit from a tailored education in which gender stereotypes are not given room to grow, teaching and learning approaches are selected to suit distinct learning styles, and the school environment offers individual support and encourages students to look beyond themselves so that they enter adulthood with an academic advantage, aspiring to be more and to give more.

Evidence shows that girls at single-sex schools not only achieve consistently better examination results than peers from co-educational schools, but better acquire important life skills too – instilling confidence and independence, an instinct to achieve and the ability to lead. Girls-only schools do this by tailoring teaching and pastoral care for the benefit of girls:

Learning styles

Girls and boys mature at different rates and learn in different ways. Many girls benefit from being in an environment that provides an education tailored specifically to girls’ learning styles, needs and developmental stage.

Confidence

Research shows that girls like to work collaboratively and enjoy problem-solving, but they tend to be more self-critical than boys. In our girls-only classrooms, girls have the space to allow their intellectual and social confidence to blossom, discovering who they are and where they want to be in the future.

Academic results

With all of the above, it is unsurprising that girls (and boys) do better academically at single-sex schools. Recent research on GCSE performance at independent schools from the Curriculum, Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre at Durham University confirms: “the average performance of pupils of both genders in single-sex schools is better than the average performance of their counterparts in mixed schools by a significant margin”.

Quashing gender stereotypes

Research also shows that in a single-sex school girls are less likely to follow gender stereotypes, instead choosing subjects according to ability and interest. Our girls experiment with subjects traditionally considered as boys’ subjects without hesitation and are confident choosing Physics alongside Photography, Chemistry alongside Classical Civilisation, and Mathematics alongside Mandarin.

Careers

Girls in girls’ schools do not view any career as being closed to them, rather, they are encouraged to pursue any role they choose. Through the provision of a wide range of subjects, and excellent careers advice and work experience opportunities, our school gives girls the confidence to fulfil their ambitions.

Leadership and risk

Girls at girls’ schools learn to be leaders; there are no boys to dominate the leadership roles. When it’s all down to the girls, they learn not only to take responsibility but how to lead naturally and inspire others.

To hear more about girls' education please click here to read information from the Girls' Schools Association, of which St Mary's School, Cambridge is a member.