It is available from http: Full text of this item does not appear in the LRA. This paper is developed from a study carried out to explore factors influencing the choices of a range of stake-holders in a multi-ethnic urban community - students, parents, teachers, community representatives - with regard to single-sex schooling.
The paper discusses competing perspectives underpinning the focus of the study. Recent legislation in America approving single-sex schooling Hutchison Amendment in June , and increased provision of single-sex classes in UK and elsewhere have augmented the debates around single-sex education and achievement.
In today's multi-ethnic multi-faith societies, it is highly significant to look at schooling preferences from the perspectives of different groups and communities for the purposes of responding to their needs and expectations. This paper extends the debate by discussing the impact of culture and faith on school choices with regard to single-sex versus co-educational schooling. Traditionally, single-sex education has been in the form of boys-only schools Ivinson and Murphy, invoking feminist critique in the modern and post-modern eras with regard to equal opportunities and female marginalisation Deem, ; Weiner, In the twentieth century, growth of co-educational institutions led to debates about strengths and weaknesses of single-sex versus co-educational schools.
There is no study which can claim to have controlled every other variable to fully investigate single-sex or co-education factor Smithers and Robinson, They emphasise that the evidence is inconclusive to support the effect of single-sex provision on education or indeed educational achievement: Without clear general findings, deciding whether to mix or separate the sexes for education has to be a matter of judgment.
Smithers and Robinson, , p. Riordan is emphatic that single-sex schools work for girls and boys, women and men, whites and non-whites; but he also admits that the beneficial effects of single-sex schools are greatest among certain groups such as Black or Hispanic females from low socioeconomic homes Riordan, Extensive debates in the USA before and after The Hutchison Amendment in June , which made single-sex education unambiguously legal1, produced substaintial literature in this area.
This paper argues that single-sex education needs to be explored and analysed in the wider social context in the backdrop of the values and beliefs of the school community. It draws from a recent research project carried out in Nottingham City2 to debate single-sex schooling with particular focus on ethnic minorities, who were a high majority because of the specific demographics of the research context.
The study explored views and perspectives of diverse local communities and stakeholders with regard to single-sex schooling, looking into educational, social, cultural and religious concerns. The project was designed to ensure widespread consultations with the local community and all concerned.
The Study The study was designed to seek the views and perspectives of the diverse range of stakeholders regarding single-sex schooling in a specific multi-ethnic urban context 3 Single-Sex Education Report, In view of the potential diversity of the expected research participants it was decided to deploy a number of varying information-gathering strategies. Barriers of access, language, writing ability, internet access, cultural constraints, gender and others were recognised, and a range of methods and formats were used to collect data.
This included two questionnaires — one for adults and one for young people both administered on paper and online , consultation events, focus groups and interactive voting. One consultation event was organised prior to data collection, to discuss the project format and content of the first questionnaire with the diverse stake holders and the wider community.
The majority of attendees were from minority ethnic groups and it later emerged from other conversations that in general the White British people did not see single-sex education as a key issue. The paper draws on the data collected from: Questionnaires total questionnaires served, a. Twelve focus groups with mature people: Ten focus groups with young people: Two open community consultation events The data were rich and highly complex, raising multiple concerns.
It pointed to the complexity of the issue and contending perspectives. The findings highlighted that single-sex education was important to certain ethnic and faith communities; however, support for this preference varied with gender, age, and heritage factors.
Second, a dominant assumption among supporters of single-sex education was that it contributed to achievement by relieving students from perceived tensions, temptations and pressures. This paper debates the significance of single-sex education as emphasised by some groups and discusses the factors underpinning their perceptions. A key finding was that single-sex education was considered more important by male respondents. First, does this favouring of single-sex education reflect the desire to have single-sex education only for girls, or for both boys and girls?
Second, does it indicate a genuine educational need or is it the reinforcement of gendered division and social control? The data signal that support for single-sex education in this case is for girls-only provision, thus pointing to sensitive and complex gender issues such as stereotyping, social patterns and gender roles. This was confirmed in the focus groups where male supporters of single- sex education talked about need for girls-only schools, while female supporters of single-sex education explicitly maintained that single-sex schooling should be for both girls and boys.
An overwhelming majority of all respondents supporting single-sex education, however, were from minority ethnic groups belonging to the Muslim faith. According to the research findings, single-sex education received less support from British-born ethnic minority people.
This pointed to changing attitudes and the impact of societal culture as compared to parent- or country-of-origin-culture , and environment on educational preferences. There were interesting variations not only across different ethnic groups but also within ethnic groups in terms of age and gender, as shown in Table 1, presenting responses from on ethnic group3: