An image of unpleasant and horrid hormonal girls in single-sex schools could not be further from the truth
In an interview with Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News in this week’s Times she attributes the presence of boys for toughening her up at her public school which she attended after an independent girls’ school where she says “girls all together can be quite nasty”.
I find it interesting she feels that the sexist treatment she received at a school which only admitted girls into the sixth form was positive in making her real world ready and yet fall-outs at the girls’ school a negative in helping her to navigate a demanding working environment. It may have been her experience at the girls’ school she attended but certainly it is not how everyone finds it and to attribute it to being single-sex is not rational. By her own admittance she was an annoying child. She felt she didn’t fit in as the school was moneyed. These are possibly greater reasons as to why it was an unhappy experience. I am genuinely intrigued as to why she didn’t feel her time at the second school was damaging especially as she claimed to have been sexually harassed by a male pupil.
It is a problem for girls’ schools that we are thought to fit a stereotype of unpleasant hormonal girls being horrid to one another when that image could not be further from the truth. There will be people, who looking back on their school days remember only the difficult incidents but I do not think those tough times only existed because the school was single-sex. There is no evidence that there are more fall-outs in our school than any other – in fact I would argue there are less in my experience with an atmosphere of kindness. Our pupils find a camaraderie in their classmates which lasts way beyond school. When I meet with alumna from sixty years ago they are still meeting their school chums and equally with more recent leavers those bonds formed at PHS stay strong.