More parents keeping their daughters in girls’ schools after Everyone’s Invited abuse accounts, heads report

23rd November, 2021 2:22 pm

More parents are opting to keep their daughters in same-sex schools for sixth form following revelations of sexual harassment and abuse against girls, headteachers have reported.

The Girls’ Schools Association – which represents more than 100 girls’ private schools – said that in the wake of the Everyone’s Invited movement, parents were more likely to see moving their daughter to a co-educational sixth form as a “risk”.

In the spring of 2021, the Everyone’s Invited website began publishing testimonies of women and girls who had suffered harassment and sexual violence in UK schools and universities.

The website prompted a review of the issue by the watchdog Ofsted, which concluded that incidents of harassment in schools “are so commonplace” that many pupils “see no point in reporting them”.

Donna Stevens, the chief executive of the GSA’s, said that the movement was likely to have changed parents’ perceptions of same-sex education.

Speaking to journalists at the GSA’s annual conference in Manchester, she said: “At the moment, for girls’ schools quite a lot of girls leave at 16 and they go to a co-ed school for their sixth form years.”

However, she said that “initial figures” on enrollments suggested that more parents were opting to have their daughters stay on in girls only sixth forms.

“I think if I was the mum of a 16-year-old, I’d be thinking about keeping her there,” she said. “Anecdotally we are getting feedback from schools along those lines… we’re getting that feedback from numbers of people who are applying.”

“It just might make them think twice – ‘this could be a bit of a risk, and actually she’s happy where she is’,” she added.

Ms Stevens said that schools would have a clearer sense of trends when official figures on enrollments are published in the spring.

While some people argue that same-sex schools fail to prepare young people for having to mix with the opposite sex at university and in the workplace, she said that girls’ schools helped women navigate these environments by building their confidence.

“On the whole, boys are more confident than girls across the board. In a girls’ school, that gap is narrower,” she said.

“If you’re sat next to a boy in a co-ed school and he’s saying ‘I’m nailing it, that maths exam was so easy, it went really well’, the girl who is naturally a bit more unconfident will think ‘I’m not quite cut out to do that’.”

As a result, she said that in co-educational schools, female entry levels for traditionally male-dominated subjects such as science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem), were lower than in girls only schools.

Ms Stevens said that girls’ schools were not about “taking girls away from boys the whole time”.

“It’s just at certain points during the day – for their maths class let’s just put them together with girls, and their PE class when they’re feeling quite conscious about their changing bodies.”

She added: “It’s just having points in the day where they have a safe space and the environment to really grow and be the best version of themselves.”

Source: The i

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