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single-sex classes

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by clblake3, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. clblake3

    clblake3 New commenter

    Hi everyone,
    I am currently writing an assignment on single-sex classes. I was wondering if anyone could tell me of any experience they have had in teaching single-sex classes and what were the advantages and disadvantages, in particular the effects of behaviour. If you have not taught single-sex classes but have strong opinions for or against, I would be very keen to hear!

    This would be much appreciated.
  2. LiamD

    LiamD New commenter

    My year 8 Maths class is single-sex. It was never intended to be, there was a solitary girl in the class in Year 7 but she moved out of the area. It just so happened that the 15 lowest-ability kids left were boys (we have a very popular all-girl school nearby which dramatically skews our gender distribution).
    Behaviour in this particular class is fabulous. They are, without doubt, my favourite class. There is none of the macho/hormonal posturing evident in the other KS3 classes I have taught. The boys are not afraid to answer questions (there is little fear of being seen to give the wrong answer). Incidentally some of the members of this particular class are regarded as 'characters' around the school, having had more than their fair share of detentions and exclusions. Attainment has been well above average for these pupils and a fair few have been given the opportunity to move up sets. Surprisingly, most have baulked at this opportunity. They seem to prefer being in a single-sex class situation, free from the pressure to misbehave. I genuinely cannot think of any disadvantages of this arrangement but I will ask the boys themselves for their opinions in our lesson tomorrow.
    I cannot postulate whether an all-girl class would have the same dynamic.

  3. A few years ago I had an all boys group in Y11. We made a conscious decision to split the C-/D/E students into boys and girls classes. They were following an applied science course which was 50% coursework (a notorious difficulty with boys!). I got the boys because I'd had most of them in Y10 (my Y10 class happened to have 21 boys and 4 girls in it!). It was a very tough year but I adapted the resources, lots more short snappy things for them to do, less long writing tasks and coursework broken down into small chunks. They also had a league table where they had pieces of work marked out of 10 or as a % and these were totalled up at the end of the week and ranked against the premier league, with one student being relegated to championship as there were 21 in the class. The class did very well, they were my best ever value added score and there were some fantastic individual achievements, one boy got the top portfolio score in the year 74 out of 83 (despite it not being the top applied set) and another boy who had a target grade of E got a B. From a class predicted nothing above a C- I got 7 B grades! I am a female teacher and I do believe that helped, the boys were incredibly loyal and protective of me. When a lad started on me the rest of them pinned him to the ground! They were hard work, so chatty about football, their girlfriends etc but I really enjoyed working with that class and they gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction. The woman who taught the girls class didn't have such a fun time!
  4. I am a huge fan of single sex classes. The school I started at last year taught in single sex, which I found odd at first but quickly got used to.
    However at Christmas the head decided to mix the year 9's, cue the worst class I have ever had. I originally had a lovely top set boys and a lovely middle set girls but once this was mixed my top set became the bitchiest, nastiest class with the boys always shouting at each other and "peacocking" to the girls and the girls all whispering to the boys and encouraging them to pick on the quiter members of the class. It's safe to say I dread teaching that class.
    The middle set that was once all girls is now very boy heavy because most of the girls were moved up based on their grades. They are still a nice group but there were some run ins to begin with.
    Luckily my year 10 top boys set was not messed with and I love them. Yes they talk a lot and there is the odd demonstration of manlyness but they are good boys, they work hard and they do well and their grades make me so proud. Even on their worst day I would teach them all 5 lessons over the mixed year below.
  5. Hi
    I don't teach any single sex classes, but went to an all girls' high school, and have just finished my teacher training in 2 different mixed schools, so I don't know if my views might be of any use to you because of that or not.
    Personally as a top set student I loved being in single sex classes; although there were definite occasions of bitchiness, from my memory this happened more in the mixed ability classes for PSHE etc, where pupils from lower sets were more likely to misbehave for attention. In my ability set classes there were still 'cliques' but we all just knew who we wanted to work with in group situations etc, and got on with our work as well as our teachers. I definitely feel that being in single sex classes at high school was helpful for me; it boosted my confidence during the awkward gangly teenager phase and meant I could focus on lessons. Having said that, it was nice at college to be in mixed classes and get some different opinions in discussions etc! Having taught mixed classes ( secondary English), where the mix was fairly equal and where one gender heavily dominated, the thing I've noticed is that the boys in my classes seem to want lots more shorter snappier tasks and respond really well to a lot more competition, whereas as the girls could generally get on with a task and wanted reassurance that they were on the 'right' lines instead of needing to be prompted to extend/ continue the task as the boys needed. Also it was more likely to be the boys playing up for attention when in classes where they were the minority, whereas girls in the minority would generally just be quiet throughout. Obviously this won't be true of every class, but these are my experiences.
  6. I came across single sex organisation of Y6 Literacy and Numeracy at one of the primary schools I supplied for about 8-10 years ago.. I believe after a few years it was abandoned. The lesson plans were the same of boys/girls, I might have expected some differentiation based on gender

    From a supply perspectve, the classes were experienced as something like "A" and "B" streams, with the girls' set being the "A" stream.
  7. Last year I taught a single sex class (all girls). We knew we had a problem in Year 11 with the girls on the C/D GSCE borderline, so we rearranged two sets so that I had a class of 29 girls and a colleague taught a class of 13 boys. We both enjoyed teaching these classes enormously and the results were very good from both classes, far in excess of what they were originally destined to get.
    It helped that I liked teaching girls and my colleague liked teaching boys. It helped that we are both strong teachers who have good control of our classes. We had done something similar about 8 or 9 years ago and it was a disaster for the girls, as their teacher was, well, not that great.
    What we did last year was a one off, I wouldn't like to teach all-girl classes all the time. The balance seems wrong, and a class full of borderline girls can be VERY demanding!.
  8. did u finish ur assignment yet? i have taught single sex classes but not sure if my comments will be too late to be of use. also id be very interested to see your assignment when it's finished!
  9. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

    At my previous school (state middle school) I identified a problem in getting girls who shoud get to L5 in KS2 up to L5, far greater numbers of girls were failing to reach L5 than boys of a similar ability/starting point.
    We already had 7 Maths sets as follows: 1 x G&T group, 1 x middle top set, 1 x borderline L4/5, 2 x parallel middle sets, 1 x borderline L/4 group, 1 x SEN group
    We decided to keep the 1 x G&T group, but split the middle top set and borderline 4/5 group into a boys only set and girls only set.
    Part of the decision was not data based, but base don our observations that the girls at this end of the ability range lacked confidence and would not speak up in class, in fact many burst into tears when they were asked a question. The boys on the other hand were keen to answer even when wrong!
    It was great and although we never managed to bring the girls and boys onto a equal footing, we in fact improved results in both classes!
    The girls I taught with a HLTA to help, we didn't tend to put the girls on the spot and gave them the chance to talk about things. The boys were much more regimented and did lots of short bursts of drills and contests.
    This was for Yrs 5 & 6, by the time they got to Yr 7 we felt that the girls were sufficently confident on the whole to go back to mixed sex classes. (single sex would not have been possible in KS3 due to timetabling in two half year groups.

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