Mixed-school girls 'held back by domineering boys'

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The Independent Online

The head of the Girls' School Association (GSA) provoked controversy yesterday when she claimed that mixed education may be "perilous" for girls as they feel intimidated by "domineering" boys in their choice of subjects.

The head of the Girls' School Association (GSA) provoked controversy yesterday when she claimed that mixed education may be "perilous" for girls as they feel intimidated by "domineering" boys in their choice of subjects.

Cynthia Hall, headmistress of the prestigious School of St Helen and St Katherine and president of the GSA, said she was infuriated by headteachers who claimed educating boys and girls together was "natural".

At the association's annual conference, she released the results of a survey of 5,300 girls in 104 private girls' schools which found that pupils at GSA schools were almost twice as likely to study physics or chemistry A-levels than the national average for girls. Sixth-formers at independent girls' schools were also more likely to study maths or languages. More than a quarter take maths and chemistry while 12 per cent take physics. Nationally only 4.9 per cent of female A-level entries were for maths, 4.6 per cent for chemistry and just 1.5 per cent for physics.

However, David Hart, of the National Association of Head Teachers, dismissed Mrs Hall's arguments as "propaganda" and said her views were "outdated and old-fashioned".

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