Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but we all have to live and work together on Earth. Hence, when talking about co-education, it is challenging not to just state the blindingly obvious, that we live in a co-ed world and youngsters must learn to thrive amongst colleagues and friends of both sexes. Education is not just about academic success. As importantly, it is about leaving school with the social skills and emotional intelligence to thrive in any environment.
Working in mixed groups can be of great benefit. A combination of the competitive nature of boys to perform as well as those around them and the girls’ often more conscientious attitude to work should be a winning formula for success, in both the classroom and independent study. Class discussion brings diversity of opinion and encourages all to develop a rounded view.
Co-ed schools are all about breaking the mould and inspiring girls to aim for careers as engineers, politicians or to study the Sciences and boys to perhaps consider Music, PR or design.
Co-curricular programmes offer diversity of choice with girls having equal access to activities which may once have been the preserve of boys such as CCF, cricket, shooting or practical skills such as carpentry, car maintenance or metalwork. Although fun to see boys dressed in drag in the school play, a co-ed environment allows less comical representation.
Lastly, school should be about forming solid, supportive friendships for life. I can’t help wondering if it is a more relevant preparation for 21st century life, for these to be with both boys and girls, giving a balanced perspective. Maybe girls bring focus, drive and determination for academic success and boys bring more of an easy-going, calm perspective.
Particularly with an only child or where parents are separated, mixed friendships or role models are less likely at home, so perhaps more important to experience at school.