Why single-sex schools are bad for your health (if you're a boy)

Boys taught in male-only schools face divorce and depression by their early 40s, research reveals

You might have thought that boys brought up in a single-sex environment would find relationships with girls difficult to handle.

Now research due to be published tomorrow proves it.

It shows that boys taught in singlesex schools are more likely to be divorced or separated from their partner than those who attended a mixed school by their early 40s.

However, those who stayed together were just as likely to be happy in their relationship as men educated in mixed schools – when asked to rate the quality of their marriage on a scale of one to seven.

The findings, taken from studying a cohort of all those born in a single week of 1958, will be presented by Professor Diana Leonard, from London University's Institute of Education, at a conference at the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge.

The research covered 17,000 adults who had been taught in a range of institutions from private boarding schools to state comprehensives. The majority had been brought up in day schools.

Dr Leonard's findings have fuelled claims from teachers' leaders and education psychologists that boys brought up in a single-sex environment are less able to relate to the opposite sex than those taught in a co-educational school.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "All the research shows single-sex schools are good for girls but bad for boys – both in terms of academic performance and socialisation.

"Girls seem to learn what the nature of the beast is if they have been to single sex schools whereas boys taught on their own seem to find girls more puzzling."

Dr Bousted added: "Boys learn better when they are with girls and they actually learn to get on better."

The research also reveals that men taught in boys' schools are more likely to suffer from "a sense of malaise" or depression by their early 40s – possibly as a result of relationship breakdown.

Men were also more likely to have spoken of a "dislike" for their school days if taught in a male-dominated environment.

However, there was no difference in the likelihood of marital breakdown between girls brought up in single-sex schools and those taught in a mixed-sex environment.

The research also shows that boys from single-sex schools were just as likely to take part in household chores – such as cooking the evening meal, laundry, cleaning and shopping.

"We found no link between single-sex schooling and the domestic division of labour," Professor Leonard will say.

The research failed to back up a claim made by advocates of mixed schooling that being taught co-educationally meant youngsters were less likely to opt for a homosexual or lesbian lifestyle. "Only 21 men and 22 women reported living with same-sex partners at age 42," says the research.

"We are therefore unable to comment on whether co-education did provide the 'clean, healthy, natural atmosphere' so commended by its early advocates."

Nearly half of those born in the 1958 week under study, who subsequently graduated from universities, had attended single-sex schools, the research also found.

However, this was more likely to have been as a result of the type of schools they attended – there are more single private schools and grammar schools than comprehensives. Pupils taught in single-sex schools are more likely to study for subjects traditionally thought of as the preserve of the opposite sex, though.

For instance, more girls choose to study maths and science in single-sex schools and more boys pick the arts and humanities than if they were taught in mixed classes.

""A central finding is that single-sex schooling moderates the effect of gender-stereotyping in terms of choice of field of study," says the research.

"This runs counter to earlier assertions that co-education would widen subject choice."

More Education news:

Top head: private schools should not support failing ones

Schoolboy's skirt protest up for human rights award

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones