Boys' schools get top marks

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 08:58 18/06/2014

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Research showing boys in single-sex schools are performing better than those in co-educational schools is especially timely for Marlborough, says Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty.

With Blenheim colleges in the middle of discussions on the future of secondary schooling in the region the report by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) would be a helpful tool for the community, Hegarty said.

The Association of Boys' Schools of New Zealand had always believed academic achievement was higher in boys' schools and commissioned the NZCER to investigate, he said.

"The report supports what we've always assumed - boys at boys' schools are achieving at a higher level academically than in non-boys' schools across all ethnic groups and decile levels.

"Some of the differences are quite staggering," Hegarty said.

NCEA data from 2010 to 2012 showed boys in state and state-integrated all-boys' schools performed higher in NCEA level 2 assessments, university entrance and scholarship exams.

In 2012, the percentage of boys leaving school with at least level 2 was 14 per cent higher in all boys' schools than co-educational schools. At the other end of the scale, the percentage of boys that left school with no qualification was twice as high in co-educational schools than in all boys' schools, Hegarty said.

The report also highlighted the high achievement of boys in sports and the arts.

"The win by the Marlborough Boys' College in the Press Cup rugby competition last year was a great example. The Press Cup has only ever been won by all boys' schools," he said.

The report also highlighted some of the reasons for the higher achievement as: pastoral care, co-curricular and leadership programmes that help provide confidence.

"I believe the culture of all boys' schools is critical to their success," Hegarty said.

The research data was broken down by decile. It showed that 32 per cent of boys' schools are decile 9 or 10 compared with 9 per cent of co-ed schools.

In 2012, 24.8 per cent of Maori students in decile 1-4 boys' schools left with no qualifications compared with 34 per cent in co-ed schools.

In the same decile band, 15.9 per cent of Pacific Island students left boys' schools without any qualifications while in co-ed schools 29.6 per cent left.

In decile 9 and 10 schools 8.6 per cent of Maori students and 12.5 per cent of Pacific Island students received no qualifications at boys' schools, while 15.7 per cent of Maori and 17.6 per cent of Pacific Island students left co-ed schools without qualifications.

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Queen Charlotte College principal Tom Parsons said the research was not surprising. He said the boys' schools talked about in the research were different to Marlborough Boys' College, as parents in Blenheim didn't have a choice of where to send their children.

"Marlborough Boys' does not stack up the same way as the schools in the report. Parents choose to send their sons to the schools used in the research, with a real invested interest in their education and at great expense," he said.

Another aspect he felt was missing in the research was "socialisation versus education".

He questioned how well the boys from single-sex schools adapted to studying at co-educational tertiary institutes.

"Earlier statistics have shown that boys from single sex schools take at least 12 to 18 months to adapt and really settle down . . . the decision should be made for every individual child, but balance is important," Parsons said.

germari.herselman@mex.co.nz

- The Marlborough Express

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