The Heads discuss the benefits of single-sex education

It’s not news to discover that boys and girls are wired differently.  Any parent with children of both sexes will appreciate this more than most!   There is of course scientific evidence that the two genders do develop both physically and emotionally at different speeds, they learn in different ways, and are driven by different motivating factors.

One of the key factors in attaining success in any child’s education is to build confidence and self-esteem. It therefore makes sense that children in single-sex schools thrive, as they are studying in an environment which plays to these differences and can tailor-make the learning to embrace the different learning styles and motivations, without reinforcing any gender stereotypes.

At Cumnor House School, we have separate sites for our Boys’ Prep School and our more recent addition to the group, our Girls’ Prep School.  This gives us the best of both worlds – both schools promote an atmosphere where children can just be themselves for that bit longer, with no pressure to ‘perform’ or grow up too soon.  Yet shared facilities such as an onsite swimming pool, mixed After School Clubs (parents can choose which site their child attends and a shuttle bus takes children between sites before and after school) ensures that social interaction with the opposite sex is part of their daily school life too.

Both schools have the ability to offer teaching styles, sporting opportunity and a full extra-curricular programme, geared to boys or girls.

Dina Mallett, Headmistress of Cumnor House Preparatory School for Girls comments that, “There is a large central section of the Venn diagram regarding girls and boys learning, but it is those surrounding crescents that highlight the benefits of single-sex education.”

She proudly states that “At Cumnor House School for Girls there is not so much the belief that there are girl-specific subjects – in fact pupils work to impressively high standards in both mathematics and science, the traditionally male subjects – the drive here is that these girls can strive for any goal, whether that goal is to be an astronaut or a ballerina.”

Research has shown (which parents of boys will be able to corroborate) that boys’ active attention spans can be significantly shorter than those of girls!  At Cumnor House School for Boys, teachers have greater scope to work to boys’ specific requirements and play to their strengths.  Competition is so important amongst boys and it is crucial, particularly at the ages of 11-13, that it is harnessed broadly. A competitive, spirited, environment allows boys to get past the cognitive and confidence barrier, which many 10-11 year old boys hit, particularly in areas like literacy.

Every Cumnor House pupil is introduced to ‘The Cumnor Way’ which is a list of guidelines that they are expected to adopt and follow ‘The Cumnor Way’:-

  • Do your best to be your best self
  • Listen
  • Share
  • Forgive
  • Be helpful
  • Be kind
  • Be truthful
  • Treat others as you would like to be treated

It provides the foundation on which all of our teaching operates.  Timeless values and good manners remain at the forefront of our provision.

Floyd Steadman, Headmaster of Cumnor House Preparatory School for Boys, is very keen to promote inclusivity wherever possible. “Not every boy is an ‘A-team’ standard rugby player, so we ensure our ‘C-Team’ also gets to play league fixtures and can benefit from top class coaching too.

“We aim to give our boys the chance to develop and excel across the board and so it is not surprising that we see our boys being awarded as many music and sports scholarships as academic ones,” he said.