It is about the unmeasurable life skills that girls can learn and experience in a safe and non-judgemental environment that really count.
By Mrs Sue Collins, Deputy Head of Junior School
There is much debate about the positives and negatives of single sex education and from the data that says it is a good thing, there will always be statistics that contradict this. In my opinion it is not all about the exam results being better in a single sex school, but it is about the unmeasurable life skills that girls can learn and experience in a safe and non-judgemental environment that really count.
When I first qualified as a teacher I was determined to work in the state sector in a mixed environment and “make a difference” to children’s lives. When a position came up at a private girls’ school I decided that the position probably wasn’t for me, but that it would be good interview experience. How wrong could I be!
I arrived at Burgess Hill Girls and was immediately struck by the calm and inviting environment. As part of the interview process I taught an English lesson on poetry and was immediately struck by the girls’ enthusiasm and motivation. I had entered a world where it was cool to learn and to achieve. The lesson went well and as the girls left the classroom they confidently looked at me and thanked me for the lesson. I had arrived in heaven!
I got the job and hastily accepted the position of class teacher. As I have progressed through my teaching career, I have come to realise just how beneficial it is for girls to be educated in an all girls’ only environment.
There is a significant difference in the way girls and boys learn, and the younger the children are the more apparent this is. Girls tend to outperform boys and generally have higher expectations of themselves in the classroom. They can also be more self-critical when evaluating their performance and this can lead to a lack of confidence. As a teacher of girls it is incredibly important to address this very early on in the educational journey.
At Burgess Hill Girls there are numerous opportunities for girls to develop self-confidence. Drama productions, musical performances, class assemblies, residential trips away, sporting fixtures and a wide variety of extracurricular activities are all part of the rich tapestry of daily school life. This is in addition to the high quality academic education that is tailored to the individual. This focused approach allows girls to achieve to their own potential within the classroom which, in turn, further raises their confidence. At Burgess Hill Girls, achievements both in and out of school, no matter how small, are valued and celebrated openly and as a community. This strategy means every girl is appreciated and this, in turn, increases their self-esteem.
This tailored approach to a girl’s education produces confident young women ready to hold their own and succeed in an increasingly competitive job market. As both a parent and teacher of girls, I believe this is what we all are striving for and our daughters deserve.