At OLA we believe strongly in the value of co-education. In the modern world, the majority of schools have embraced this model as the natural environment for educating children and, as a consequence, the number of single sex schools remaining is relatively few.
There are some very good reasons for this. The aim of any good school is to prepare its students for the world beyond the classroom and in that world it has been the case for many years that men and women work and study together. In our view, the sooner that process starts the better. Educating boys and girls together advances their emotional well-being and ensures that, when they leave school, they become happy and well-adjusted members of society, able to live and work with all manner of people. To this extent, single sex education is a legacy of the past.
Many studies conducted over the last half century have shown that, on academic grounds, there are no reasons for choosing a single-sex school over co-education.
Research commissioned by the Head Masters’ Conference in 2006, which looked at academic performance right across the world, came to this very conclusion. A more selective intake might mean that one school appears higher up a league table than another, but this has nothing to do with the gender mix of the pupils. Other research has shown that boys and girls benefit from a variety of learning styles and that separating them does not assist the learning experience.
There are also good social reasons for choosing a mixed school such as OLA. Friendships have the chance to develop very naturally here, with the vast majority of classes, activities and clubs giving the boys and girls the opportunity to mix and get to know each other together. This family atmosphere allows pupils of both sexes to express their views confidently in an environment that mirrors what happens in the outside world. Co-education at OLA helps to break down any misconceptions each sex may have about the other and provides an excellent foundation for the development of realistic, meaningful and lasting relationships in later life.
The teaching of academic subjects invariably allows for classroom discussion and debate, and in a co-educational school both the female and male perspectives can be equally heard. This makes for the best possible learning experience for all. Pupils learn that 'equality' does not mean 'sameness' and that men and women often have different perspectives on the same issues, with each having a great deal to offer the other. In short, at OLA we believe that co-education makes for a civilised, balanced environment where all pupils can flourish and be well prepared for university and the world beyond. As such, it offers considerable advantages and should be a key consideration for any parent considering a school for their child.