New Single-Gender Education at debate


On Monday, February 5, Miguel Dionis, co-founder of Equal and Different, held a debate with Gabriel Castellano, President of the Independent Association of Private Schools of Spain, in the ABC newspaper. ABC is one of the three most read newspapers in Spain.

A necessary debate on single-gender education

New Single-Gender Education under debate. “There are entire generations in our country who have grown up in sex-differentiated classrooms. However, today, in Spain, there are barely a hundred schools that separate boys and girls, less than one percent of the total”. So begins the report in the ABC newspaper, in which Miguel Dionis participated on behalf of Iguales y Diferentes.

The conversation was constructive and friendly. Both established bridges of collaboration and insisted on the right of families to choose the education of their children.

Academic delays that could be improved

Miguel Dionis, who is a teacher and Board Committee member of the IBSC (International Boy’s Schools Coalition), began the debate by stating that he does not claim that one model is better than the other, and argued that some “inefficiencies could be solved if we had separate classrooms for boys and girls”. And he recalled that in primary and secondary school (and due to different maturation rates) the difference between men and women is notorious: men are a year behind women academically, especially in reading and writing, which is the basis of learning. These are PISA data: “In other countries we are seeing how this model reduces male school failure and favors the incorporation of women into STEM careers (engineering, mathematics…)”.

Among the top 20 schools in academic terms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 16 are New Differentiated Education schools.

El The ABC newspaper sought the opinion of José Manuel Lacasa, an education researcher at the head of IFIE (“Instituto de Formación e Investigación Educativa”), who found when analyzing PISA data some time ago that, at the age of 15, girls in separate schools were one grade ahead in Mathematics compared to girls in coeducational schools (and once the SES, the socioeconomic status, was subtracted).

This capacity of single-gender education to contribute to the improvement of academic results is clear, according to José María Barrio, PhD in Philosophy and professor of Pedagogical Anthropology at the Complutense University: “I studied this issue 20 years ago, examining the results of the two models in Germany, and I found that if we look at academic performance, the option for single-gender education is clear”.

School climate in adolescence

Ana Roa, coordinator of Pedagogy and Psychopedagogy at the Colegio de Doctores y Licenciados de Madrid, affirms that socially the coeducation model is better: “students in coeducational schools tend to have greater empathy for different groups of people and accept different ways of seeing the world more easily, because they learn it from the beginning in diverse and inclusive classrooms”.

In Spain, Lacasa explains, comparative studies cannot be carried out because the sample of single-gender schools is very small, but in Australia, where the sample of differentiated schools is sufficiently valid, it was found that in the differentiated school less than 1% of the female students had been bullied, compared to 21% who had been bullied in the mixed school.

The educators insisted on the objective that schools should be places of peace, of learning, without pressure or stereotypes. Logically, with conflicts that they must learn to resolve.

Empowering the capabilities of boys and girls

Miguel Dionis argued in the debate that in Equal and Different we speak of “new” differentiated education, to differentiate it from the one that older people could have had, in which there was no equality of curriculum, nor of teacher training, nor of professional orientation. “In the new single-gender education we seek to maximize the capabilities of boys and girls,” he said, because it is an education that personalizes and does not segregate.

The improvement in school climate and academic results -especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods- led him to propose that differentiation could also be implemented in public schools, at least in some age groups or academic subjects, as Hillary Clinton did with David Banks. In these new single-gender schools, the number of students graduating increased from 43% to 90%.

A sadly ideologized debate

Francisco López Rupérez, researcher in educational policy and former president of the State School Council, considers that there are prejudices surrounding this educational model because “the political left in Spain has adopted a militant position”, of which Lomloe is an example. However, Unesco, he says, “an organization not at all suspected of being conservative”, maintains that single-gender education is not discriminatory.

For Miguel Dionis, single-gender education “is a progressive model”. In our country, he says, people talk about segregated, a pejorative term in itself: “If you ask people, they say, ‘Ah, yes, my grandfather’s, Franco’s education.’ That’s an outdated argument. I think parents don’t choose freely, because they don’t have the information,” he says.

According to Francisco López Rupérez, researcher in educational policy and former president of the State School Board, he believes that both models not only can, “but should coexist”.

New Single-Gender Education at debate: Iguales y Diferentes | Equal and Different

Equal and different is an association promoted by parents, alumni and teachers whose purpose is to promote educational pluralism, through the dissemination and support of the model of gender-differentiated education under equal conditions, at national and international levels. It seeks to respond to the uniqueness of each person, overcome gender stereotypes, reduce school failure and advance educational equity.

E&D focuses its action around three axes: promoting the social mobilization of parents and alumni; dialogue with journalists to improve knowledge of this educational model; and relations with politicians and social actors.

Find out more about Equal and Different here.