Elementary school children learn better when boys and girls are separated.
The benefits are especially pronounced in the intermediate grades, when puberty first starts to kick in.
These are the findings from Takhini Elementary School’s single-gender classroom pilot project.
The school has decided to implement a full-time program of single-gender education for its intermediate students this fall.
Last month, the school sent a questionnaire out to parents to find out what they thought of the program.
Almost 75 per cent of the surveys were returned, and the vast majority were in favour of continuing the program.
When asked if the program should continue, 73 per cent responded yes.
And 75 per cent of parents agreed that single gender classrooms had helped improve their child’s academic success.
The program also had positive effects on student behaviour and athletic and physical development.
As much as 82 per cent of parents felt the program had benefited the students’ overall success.
Parents were also able to leave general comments about the program.
Of the negative comments, many said that there was no difference or benefit to the program.
Others felt that it was more important to learn to cope with the mixed-gendered world and learn to work together.
Of the positive comments, many said that the children loved it and it was a good, positive experience.
At least 11 parents said that their daughters were doing better.
And at least three parents said that their sons were more confident, both academically and emotionally.
These were the types of results that principal Kelly Collins was hoping for.
But there were also some surprises.
While support for the program was very strong among parents of children in the intermediate Grades 4 – 7, support among the younger primary classes was only moderate.
Teachers and staff at the school have also found that there aren’t as many benefits in splitting up the primary classes.
Plus, the small numbers of primary-aged students enrolled in the school in the coming years don’t make single-gender classrooms practical.
So, by unanimous decision, the school’s council has decided to continue single-gender education in the intermediate grades.
The kindergarten to Grade 3 classes, where there is less benefit, will go back to a mixed gender system.
While this marks the end of the two-year pilot project, the implementation of single gender education at Takhini Elementary will still be subject to review, like any other education program.
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