Tuesday 10 December 2019

Single-sex schools send more pupils to university

Claire Mc Cormack

Students attending single-sex schools are more likely to go to university than those enrolled at co-ed schools, our figures show.

Although previous international studies have claimed that there is "no scientific evidence" that single-sex schooling is better than co-ed, new findings, compiled by the Sunday Independent, suggest that more students from a single-sex education background are attending Irish universities.

Meanwhile, girls continue to outperform the boys at same-sex institutions as more females land university places.

Between 2009 and 2015, 81pc of students at single-sex schools have furthered their education in the Republic and Northern Ireland; 43pc have opted for the university route, while 38pc have opted for a 'non-uni' option, including institutes of technology, colleges of education or art.

During the same period, 72pc of students from mixed schools have furthered their education, with 32pc choosing university and 40pc going for a non-uni alternative.

However, the level of academic success varies between male and female at single-sex schools.

Around one-third of schools in Ireland are single-sex, a situation that is almost unique in Europe.

Over the last seven years, more than 43pc of final-year students at girls' schools have advanced to university. Boys' schools are very narrowly behind on 42pc.

A gender breakdown of last year's Leaving Cert highlighted how girls continue to outperform boys - a trend that has been reflected across the globe over the past few decades.

Last year, female candidates produced more ABCs and fewer fails across almost all subjects, at both higher and ordinary levels.

However, boys continue to have a distinct edge in maths and applied maths and also produced proportionately more top grades last year in higher-level chemistry, Italian, engineering, construction studies and accounting.

The phenomenon of girls producing better overall results than boys is not unique to Ireland and is generally attributed to girls being more organised in their approach to study and aiming higher.

However, according to the latest figures, more boys from single-sex schools are opting to attend ITs and other third-level options outside the university circuit.

Between 2009 and 2015, 41pc of boys from single-sex schools landed places at non-uni third-level institutes, compared to 37pc of pupils from girls' schools.

Over the same period, 28pc of students from co-ed schools were 'not placed' at universities in Ireland or the UK, compared to just 18pc of final-year students at single-sex schools.

The total number of students going to Britain to further their education has dropped in recent years because of the very high fees - £9,000 - for universities in England.

Although there are mixed findings on the relative academic merits of single-sex versus mixed schools, there is more reliable evidence that co-education better prepares young people socially.

A recent study, co-authored by Prof Dympna Devine, head of the school of education at University College Dublin, suggests that teachers in mixed and girls' schools use better teaching methods, with greater emphasis on active learning.

You can explore the data on each school by clicking here

Sunday Independent

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