This week I would like to continue discussions on research from the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) that we have been looking at in the past few newsletters. You will remember that the essence of their research states that single sex schooling works not just because of separation of the genders alone. Girls and boys do act differently depending upon whether they are in single sex or mixed company. Hence the distraction of the opposite gender can be an issue. Whilst an over generalisation, boys tend to act up more in mixed company and girls tend to go further within themselves and take less risk, preferring to remain in the background. However, by alone removing this level of distraction, there is little effect on educational outcomes. John Hattie’s ‘Visible Learning’ research (Source: www.visiblelearningplus.com/content/250-influences-student-achievement (Retrieved 28 March 2018 / PDF)) ranks single sex schooling as 222nd out of 252 effects for positive change on outcomes. Hattie’s research calculates the ‘effect size’ of individual characteristics removed from all other influences. For example, when looking at single sex schooling, he is calculating its effect isolated from all other effects. However as previously discussed, girls only schooling benefits come from tailoring pedagogy specifically to girls. Positive student teacher relationships and a feeling of belonging to a community are high influencers and come indirectly from schooling at Girls Grammar. It has been interesting to talk to some newly enrolled students about why they have chosen Girls Grammar. As you may expect, there are a variety of reasons. However, what has been striking has been the generalisation into two aspects. The first is to learn in a calm, respectful academic environment. The second is wanting to have opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of curricular and cocurricular life that are not available elsewhere. I believe that is what Girls Grammar does so well. We offer a broad yet rigorous curriculum across all year levels. Teachers and students share a trust that I have not experienced or seen in other schools. Teachers have high yet realistic expectations. Students trust their teachers to know where to place the boundary of comfort in their learning. Our girls also feel safe and encouraged to participate in a multitude of activities out of the classroom. If you want to try debating, you can. If you have never played water polo but want to try, you can. If you want to show cattle, you can. All in the safety of a girls only environment with a nurturing staff.
Dr John Fry
Deputy Principal - Studies