Our Lady's Abingdon - Value of Co-Education

Value of Co-Education

The value of co-education

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:

Co-education prepares pupils for the world

The aim of any good school is to prepare its pupils for the world beyond the classroom. 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.

Co-education advances emotional well-being

Educating boys and girls together advances their emotional well-being. It 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.

Research shows no advantage for single-sex schools

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.

Social implications of co-education

There are also good social reasons for choosing a mixed school such as OLA:

  1. Friendships have the chance to develop very naturally. The vast majority of classes, activities and clubs at OLA give boys and girls the opportunity to mix and get to know each other.
  2. The family atmosphere allows pupils of both sexes to express their views confidently in an environment that mirrors what happens in the outside world.
  3. Co-education at OLA helps to break down any misconceptions each sex may have about the other. It 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.


Co-education offers considerable advantages and should be a key consideration for any parent investigating a school for their child.