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Poles Apart? An exploration of single-sex and mixed-sex educational environments in Australia and England

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This paper contributes to debates on the benefits of single-sex and co-educational school environments by considering both single-sex versus co-educational schools and single-sex versus co-educational classes in co-educational schools. Two research studies provide the empirical basis for this discussion. One study was a 10-year-long investigation of two Australian secondary schools which had been single-sex schools and became co-educational secondary schools over a two-year period. The second study involved a two-year investigation in an English co-educational secondary school where single-sex mathematics classes were introduced for one cohort of pupils for five school terms, after which mixed-sex classes were reintroduced. Evidence relating to academic self-concept, pupil, parent and staff perceptions and academic achievement are discussed. Overall, the evidence suggests that co-educational environments create possible social/interaction disadvantages for girls, but that academic self-concept is not adversely affected by transferring from single-sex environments into mixed-sex ones.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Educational Studies, University of York, York UK 2: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: 01 December 2000

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