NGHS head challenges Ofsted leader

Nottingham Girls’€™ High School Head refutes Sir Michael Wilshaw’€™s claim that boys and girls do better in a co-educational sett’

The quotes by Sir Michael, Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted, appeared in a report in The Sunday Times. 

Sue Gorham, NGHS Head, said: “Sir Michael’s comments would appear to be based solely on his personal experience as a teacher – first at an all-boys school and then at a co-ed. In the face of repeated research and reports, which show that girls always do better in a single-sex environment, his motivation for stating such thoughts is disturbing. How disappointing that he would express such claims without referencing any supporting research. Such comments could impact parents across the UK, who are making crucial decisions about their daughters’ futures and academic paths. Parental choice absolutely should not be influenced by the likes and dislikes of one person talking from a clearly uninformed position. Those with such an ill-informed opinion should think twice before using such a high profile position to share them.” 

These sentiments were echoed by Professor Alice Sullivan, Head of Department for Quantitative Social Science at the Institute of Education, which specialises in research into education, in an interview on BBC4’s PM programme. Professor Sullivan said there was absolutely no research evidence to support Sir Michael’s claims and that research suggests girls do better in terms of their educational attainment at single sex than at co-educational schools. She discussed how gender stereotyping is greater in the co-educational sector and how single-sex schools are bucking those stereotypes with girls being more likely to take maths and science at A Level and boys more likely to take English or modern languages.  

Sue added: “Girls are now overtaking boys in most subjects at GCSE and A Level, but women are still very much underrepresented in senior positions in later life. An all-girls environment provides the building blocks to tackle this issue as girls naturally fill leadership roles throughout their education – team captains and head of school, for example. It’s about an expert education that is designed and delivered with girls in mind, at all times and at all levels. 

“I have worked in co-ed schools before and I passionately believe that the experience and education provided in a single sex school is exceptional. We would be quite happy for Sir Michael to join us at Nottingham Girls’ High School, so he can appreciate the advantages of a girls-only educational environment and allow him to be better informed for the future.”


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