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Gender balance

Whatever the Office for Standards in Education may have found about the ethos of girls-only schools (TES, October 20), its figures do not bear out its claims about academic performance.

Its contention that girls' schools are more successful regardless of the social class of the intake depends on comparing girls', boys', and mixed schools irrespective of type of schools or sex of the intake. Since girls perform so much better than boys at GCSE, and grammars and comprehensives are not distinguished, it is not surprising that the results come out asthey do.

When direct comparisons are made, however, the apparent superiority of girls' schools disappear. For example, the average GCSE points score in 1994 in girls' comprehensive schools without a sixth form was 31.7, compared with the 33.3 of girls in similar mixed schools.

For comprehensive schools with sixth forms, girls in single-sex schools scored 35.9 against the 35.7 of girls in mixed schools.

Far from "providing strong evidence to refute" our report Co-educational and Single-Sex Schooling, OFSTED's results actually support it.

ALAN SMITHERS Director Centre for Education and Employment Research School of Education University of Manchester

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