Letters: Girls' school success

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Girls' school success

Sir: Judith Judd's article about a review of single sex schools published by the Institute of Education ("Single-sex schools get the best pupils", 12 August) was based on research which the Association of Maintained Girls' Schools had commissioned. The review needs to be considered in context.

There are few girls schools, just over 200, remaining in the state sector. They range from inner city comprehensive to rural secondary modern, to leafy suburb grammar serving a wide variety of communities. Many have multi-cultural and multi-ethnic intakes.

The league tables and Ofsted statistics have shown that girls' schools regardless of their catchment area have achieved well. The AMGS felt it was important to discover why this was the case, what lessons could be learnt so that we could share good practice with all schools. Initially it decided to review existing research.

Much of the research reviewed does not relate directly to maintained girls' schools as they are now. Many research projects included the independent sector, which has a different intake. Presumably the preoccupation with the underachievement of boys has also discouraged further research into girls' learning.

Last October the AMGS decided to commission some original research focusing on how girls learn, the effect of teaching styles and the unique contribution made by the ethos of the school.

What is it that girls' schools do well?

Our conclusion from the review was certainly not the simplistic view that girls schools have bright pupils, but that little work has been done on state girls' schools. We hope to rectify this.


The Henrietta Barnett School

London NW11

The writer is Vice President of the Association of Maintained Girls' Schools