Single-sex schools: cui bono?

Map 1: Distribution of single-sex secondary schools in England
Map 2: Locations of state and private single-sex secondary schools in England
  1. Taxpayer-funded single-sex schools are a particularly interesting social phenomenon. As we have seen, they are controversial and in recent decades have declined across the world, but they persist in some countries, not least Britain. (In these aspects they are not dissimilar to state-funded faith schools, and as we shall see there is in a fact a degree of overlap between the two groups.)
  2. The DfE gathers and makes available a wide range of data about these and other state schools that simply isn't available for private schools. This makes them much more amenable to analysis.

Figure 1: Pupils obtaining at least five good GCSEs (2015)
Sample sizes: All schools: 3066. Mixed schools: 2701. Single-sex schools 365.
Boys-only schools: 153. Girls-only schools: 212.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Pupil characteristics (2015*)
Sample sizes: All schools: 3066-3363. Mixed schools: 2701-2990. Single-sex schools 349-373.
Boys-only schools: 147-158. Girls-only schools: 202-215.
(Sample sizes vary because not all data fields are available for all schools.)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
* Free school meals data are from 2014.
Figure 3: Teacher characteristics (2014)
 
Sample sizes: All schools: 2030-3292. Mixed schools: 1836-2925. Single-sex schools 194-367.
Boys-only schools: 85-158. Girls-only schools: 109-212.
(Lower sample sizes are for teaching assistant data, which has narrower coverage than teacher data.)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
  1. Whether or not school admissions are based on academic ability.
  2. Pupils' prior academic attainment levels and scores.
  3. The proportion of pupils for whom English is an additional language (EAL).
  4. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils, as measured by their eligibility for free school meals (FSM) and the Deprivation Pupil Premium (DPP).
  5. The proportion of pupils who have special educational needs (SEN).

Figure 4: Pupil characteristics (2015*)
 
Sample sizes: All schools: 3309-3363. Mixed schools: 2960-2990. Similar mixed schools: 376-378.
Single-sex schools 349-373. Boys-only schools: 147-158. Girls-only schools: 202-215.
(Sample sizes vary because not all data fields are available for all schools.)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
* Free school meals data are from 2014.
 
Figure 5: GCSE results (2015)
 
Sample sizes: All schools: 2841-3066. Mixed schools: 2615-2701. Similar mixed schools: 222-365.
Single-sex schools 222-365. Boys-only schools: 89-153. Girls-only schools: 137-212.
(Sample sizes vary because not all data fields are available for all schools.)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 6: GCSE Value-Added Measure
 
Sample sizes: All schools: 2840-3065. Mixed schools: 2614-2700. Similar mixed schools: 222-362.
Single-sex schools 222-362. Boys-only schools: 89-153. Girls-only schools: 137-212.
(Sample sizes vary because not all data fields are available for all schools.)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
  1. These numbers exclude special schools and other kinds of non-mainstream school.
  2. For boys: Barry Comprehensive School and Lewis School Pengam. For girls: Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School and Lewis Girls' Comprehensive School. All of these have at least partially mixed sixth forms.
  3. Notre Dame High School, a girls' school in Glasgow.
  4. These are Winterbourne Junior Girls' School, Winterbourne Boys' Academy, Pardes House Primary School, Avigdor Hirsch Torah Temimah Primary School, Beis Yaakov Primary School, Lubavitch Ruth Lunzer Girls Primary School and Lubavitch Junior Boys. There are also four single-sex secondary schools that admit some primary-age children.
  5. These are Eden Boys' School, Birmingham; Eden Boys' School, Preston; and Eden Girls' School, Slough. They are all members of the same trust.
  6. I'm unsure whether to congratulate you or urge you to get a life. Perhaps both, but if you're also reading this footnote then mostly the latter. ;)
  7. This particular measure shows an odd-looking effect in which the average for all mixed schools is slightly lower than the separate averages for boys' and girls' schools. It is a result of the filtering mentioned earlier whereby single-sex schools are omitted from the average for that group if data is not available for its corresponding similar mixed school, which enables more meaningful comparisons of the 'Similar mixed schools' and 'Single-sex schools' averages. This is one of the few cases in which such filtering has a noticeable effect on the numbers.

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