Modern language teachers on single-sex classes

Sarah Cassidy

Modern language teachers do not see single-sex classes alone as an effective means for improving boys' language skills, writes Sarah Cassidy.

But they see clear advantages for girls to be taught on their own, even though they already outperform boys in language GCSEs, the study by a Manchester University teacher-trainer found.

Many of the 25 teachers interviewed said that they dreaded taking the all-boys class and resented the effort needed to teach them basic skills, according to Amanda Barton, a lecturer in education.

Setting by ability, reducing class sizes and matching staff to pupils of the same gender increased the success of single-sex classes, Dr Barton's study of five mixd comprehensives found.

At one of the schools, 68 per cent of boys in a mixed-ability single-sex class achieved at least a GCSE C grade, compared to only 33 per cent in the mixed groups. Nearly 90 per cent of girls in the single-sex class achieved a good GCSE pass compared to only 48 per cent in the mixed classes.

Most of the 1,500 pupils polled were convinced that they worked harder in single-sex classes.

The findings of 'Raising Boys' Achievement in Modern Foreign Languages through Single-sex Grouping' will be presented at the British Educational Research Association conference which will be held at the University of Cardiff on September 8.

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