Single-sex surprise

11th August 1995 at 01:00
A controversial three-year study comparing results at single-sex and co-educational schools looks likely to overthrow the widely-accepted belief that girls do better in classes devoid of boys.

Early reports of the strictly-embargoed study, conducted by Professor Alan Smithers at Manchester University for an independent schools' organisation, suggest that single-sex education may appear better because more talented girls vie for places in single-sex schools. The report is understood to find no evidence that classroom performance is improved by separating the sexes, and even suggests that co-education may be a better preparation for university.

The study was commissioned by the co-educational group of the Headmasters' Conference, the public schools organisation, and has already led to friction with the Girls' Schools Association. Publication is due immediately after the A-level results, and Girls' Schools Association heads believe it is intended to offset publicity about how much better girls' schools do.

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