Why do some girls get better exam results?

Girls at single-sex secondary schools achieve higher exam grades than those in mixed schools.  This has been suspected for many years.  A large and thorough review of last year’s results has just been published by education data analysts, SchoolDash.

All sorts of flimsy reasons are being given to explain why.  “Girls are more collaborative, they like lessons to be more discussion-based,” said Caroline Jordan, president of the Girls’ School Association.  That may well be true, but it doesn’t answer the conundrum.  She was a little nearer when she added: “Girls can be more confident in themselves, they don’t have to become a particular type of girl, they’re able to relax more.”

There we almost have it.  Girls at single-sex schools are able to be more relaxed because none of them are distracted by exhibitionistic boys.  Couple this with a more fundamental reason.  At 16 years of age, the mental development of  girls is generally three or four years ahead of boys.  At mixed-sex schools girls can afford to slacken their concentration a very long way before their lack of progress becomes too noticeable. In a girls-only school this simply wouldn’t happen.  And, incidentally, this also accounts for another finding of SchoolDash.  It is not terribly significant whether boys are at boys-only schools or mixed-sex schools.  Exam results are much the same in both.

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