In an occasional series, the Times asks two local headteachers for their opinion on topical education issues. This week we talk to Julie Lodrick, Headmistress of Kent College in Pembury, and Francie Healy, Headmaster of Bethany in Goudhurst, about single sex and mixed sex schools, and what they believe to be the benefits of each
FOR SINGLE SEX SCHOOLS
“In Kent, we are fortunate to have a long tradition of excellent single-sex education in both the independent and maintained sectors. To some of our overseas boarding families, it is more unusual. However, once they understand the rationale behind schools where girls and boys have the freedom to grow up in an environment where they can be themselves, they see the benefits that a single-sex education can bring.
Across the sector, academic results speak for themselves where girls’ schools continue to dominate the top positions. At Kent College, we also know how important it is for our girls to develop the ‘soft skills’ required for success in the world of work, and we prepare them with ‘employability’ skills. Increasingly, employers are looking for confident young people with strong communication and leadership skills.
Without the presence of the opposite gender and the pressure to impress, they are more likely to take risks and will make the most of new opportunities and develop talents.
Having had the space and time to develop at their own pace, our girls emerge from school ready, well-prepared and confident to engage with society. They go on to eminent careers and make a real difference to the world around them.”
FOR MIXED SEX SCHOOLS
“Boys and girls can think very differently, we all know they grow and mature at dissimilar rates.
In classrooms where boys and girls learn together we find that not only does a co-educational environment add diversity, but that differing opinions and ways of thinking complement each other wonderfully well.
Pupils learn from their teachers, they also learn from each other; the fundamental differences between boys and girls mean they benefit from a richer and more diverse educational experience and thus are better placed to progress seamlessly in co-educational post-school environments – be that in university or the workplace.
Everything we do at Bethany School revolves around ‘Education for life in a changing world’. Families are co-educational, society is co-educational and our education provision reflects this.
Bethany prides itself on teaching each child as an individual. The best teachers teach children. By getting to know each child as an individual we can then tailor our teaching accordingly so that every child maximises his or her potential.
We also believe that having boys and girls working together in school is the best way to prepare for men and women developing positive, collaborative and professional relationships in the future.”
•This article first appeared in our sister publication SO magazine