Why Choose a Boys’ School?
Over the past thirty years, the number of single-sex schools has reduced, not least as many boys’ schools have accepted girls. This is often contrary to the academic interests of both boys and girls. The Grammar School and High School are enrolled in a national programme called MidYIS, run by the University of Durham, which shows unequivocally that both boys and girls make better academic progress in single-sex schools. We are proud members of the International Boys’ School Coalition, through which we access the most up to date research on how boys learn and develop.
At Loughborough Grammar School, we have the best of both worlds. We are able to focus our teaching and extra-curricular activities exclusively on the needs of boys, which is particularly beneficial during the sometimes difficult adolescent years. However, we benefit from the physical proximity of both the High School and Amherst, which facilitates a huge amount of mixing of the sexes, as I describe in greater detail below.
So what are the advantages of a boys-only environment for secondary education? Let me answer from the perspective of Loughborough Grammar School.
Social pressures can have a negative impact on the academic
If you have a 7 or 9 year old son, you may not yet have noted much difference in how he interacts with girls, compared with boys. However, as the teenage years approach, boys become very aware of the opposite sex and spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what girls might think of them. Some will turn to ‘showing off’ behaviour in order to attract attention, whilst others will be paralysed into silence. It’s well-known that girls tend to mature earlier, and their greater articulacy in lessons can be extremely intimidating for adolescent boys.
As soon as I arrived in Loughborough as Headmaster, having been Deputy Head of a large mixed school, I noticed that LGS boys were much more likely to take intellectual risks since they didn’t have girls to worry about. Boys become more collaborative in a single sex setting. They put their hands up in class and volunteer themselves. They do not have to fear judgement from the opposite sex as being too ‘keen’.
We have the significant advantage of being able to adapt our teaching styles to the specific needs of boys. Boys thrive on competition and on enquiry-based learning: if you give boys a difficult task involving an information gap that they must fill, they tend to be motivated by the challenge. If they fail, they bounce back – a vital trait as we seek to develop their resilience during their secondary education. We have done considerable research into how boys learn best, with staff presenting at international conferences on the subject, and this is to the benefit of both boys’ achievement and enjoyment.
The LSF Way
Yes, it is important for boys to understand girls, as their futures lie in a mixed society. This is where Grammar School boys have the best of both worlds. Almost half of our boys use the coach service, where they mix socially with girls from the High School and Amherst. In addition, a great deal of the extra-curricular life of the school takes place in conjunction with the girls’ schools. All musical activities are mixed, as are Drama productions. The CCF is mixed, giving boys the opportunity to lead girls and vice versa. In the Sixth Form, there is joint teaching in several subjects: notably Classics, Politics and Psychology but also other subjects as flexibility demands: girls wanting to take DT A Level, or boys interested in Food Technology for example. Finally, Sixth Form academic societies are mixed, giving girls and boys the opportunity to engage in robust intellectual debate at lunchtime. And it’s true that, by the age of 16, the presence of the girls at the Politics or Debating Society certainly seems to make the events more popular with the boys!
If you’ve not thought about a boys’ school before, come and see us! Our Open Day for Autumn 2019 is on Saturday 28 September, where the most important thing will be to ask our boys themselves for their own opinions. We also run Taster Days for Year 5 boys each June. Alternatively, the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be delighted to arrange an individual visit if this is more convenient.