All Saints’ College’s Approach to Coeducation
At All Saints’ College we have a very strong belief in the appropriateness of coeducation for both boys and girls.
At the heart of our outlook is the fact that the College celebrates the diversity of modern society and proclaims the desirability of learning to respect all the diverse members of the community and to interact effectively with them.
In the context of valuing diversity, respecting and interacting with the other gender is an absolutely essential first step. If we cannot manage that fundamental level of diversity, present in all aspects of our life, there is little hope that we can do so in more complex areas.
It is sometimes said that boys and girls should be educated separately so that they can learn their lessons in isolation from the other gender and then subsequently employ their knowledge in the real, mixed-gender world.
It is difficult to understand how learning gained under such circumstances in this day and age could be easily re-applied to the real world. Surely an adult who has learnt leadership in a coeducational school is better equipped to lead either men or women than one whose leadership experience is solely amongst their own gender. Girls or boys schooled coeducationally need make no adjustment when they enter the mixed environment of a university or workplace. They understand and respect both genders.
From time to time we hear vague reference to supposed different learning styles of males and females. There is no reputable research which has yet shown that such styles exist. What has been found is that boys and girls mature at different rates and that they will have different behavioural responses to their hormonal development. However, boys do not all mature at the same rate; girls do not all respond to physiological development in the same way. To put it simply, many boys love to sit down and read quietly; many girls are boisterous and energetic. It is a gross simplification to assume all young people follow one of two stereotypes. Research finds time and time again that there is greater variation within a gender than there is across the two genders.
At All Saints’ College, we concentrate on accepting the diversity of all our students and meeting the spectrum of needs, of behaviours, of learning approaches of them all, regardless of whether the individual is male or female. All our students are thus exposed to exactly the same range of personalities, perspectives and behaviours they will encounter in the outside world. They are encouraged to respect the diversity, to value what they can gain from individuals different from themselves, rather than to see others as intrusive, wrong or obstructive.
Dr Geoffrey Shaw (Principal 2003-2011) carried out a research literature review into coeducational and single-sex schools, under the auspices of a Klingenstein Fellowship awarded by Columbia University in New York.
You can access the literature review paper he presented to Columbia by using this link.
A tabular summary of the paper is available on this link.