Academic results: United Kingdom, United States and Asia

United Kingdom

• A SchoolDash analysis of GCSE results for 2015 found that 75% of girls attending England’s 271 government girls’ secondary schools achieved five good GCSEs compared with 55% of girls attending government co-ed schools, even after adjusting for socioeconomic background and selective intake. SchoolDash founder Timo Hannay wrote that these results are consistent with previous research, including a 2009 study of the Key Stage 2 and GCSE results of 700,000 girls by the Good Schools Guide which found that girls in all-girl comprehensive schools achieved better results than those who attended co-educational secondary schools, and a 2007 government-backed review which recommended that girls and boys should be taught separately to avoid girls being pushed aside in mixed-sex classrooms (Hannay, 2016; also see, Paton & Moore, 2009).

• In 2012, there were 7,500 girls taking A-levels at schools belonging to the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) in the UK, comprising just 5.2% of all girls taking A-levels nationally. Research conducted by Rudolf Eliott Lockhart showed that in 2012 (GSA, 2013a):

  • Girls at GSA schools achieved a “disproportionately large share of the top grades in Sciences, Maths and Languages” and were “propping up these key subjects nationally”.
  • Overall, across all subjects, 21.6% of GSA entries received an A* grade, compared to only 7.9% of girls receiving A* grades nationally.
  • In French, girls from GSA schools were awarded 31.7% of A* grades awarded to girls.
  • In Chemistry, Physics and Further Maths, they were awarded between 19.8% and 25.9% of A* grades going to girls.

United States

• A 2014 report prepared for the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) found that girls at NCGS schools have “higher aspirations”, “greater motivation” and are “challenged to achieve more than their female peers” at co-ed independent and public schools (Holmgren, 2014, pp. 2-3). In particular:

  • 98.7% of girls attending girls’ schools belonging to the NCGS expect to earn a four-year, graduate or professional degree (p. 2).
  • 78.9% of girls at NCGS schools report that most of their classes challenge them to their full potential, as compared to 72.3% in co-ed independent schools and 44.3% girls in co-ed public schools (p. 3).
  • 97.9% of girls at NCGS schools stated that their school emphasised understanding information and ideas in their classes, as opposed to rote learning (p. 3), and 95.8% believe their school contributed to their ability to think critically, compared to 84.5% and 77.6% in co-ed public schools (p. 7).


• A 2012 study by Hyunjoon Park, Jere Behrman and Jaesung Choi found that in South Korea — where students were randomly assigned to single-sex and co-educational high schools until 2009 — “high school female seniors who attend all-girls schools show significantly higher mean scores than their peers who attend coeducational schools” (p. 19).

• Suzanne Link’s 2012 study of the 1999 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) data for South Korean middle schools found “positive effects of single-sex schooling for girls” in mathematics (p. 2). Link writes that the effects in mathematics “are not only highly statistically significant and non-negligible in their magnitude, but also highly relevant since math[s] performance is consistently linked to future earnings” (p. 2).

• A 2012 PhD thesis by Dana Diaconu concluded that girls from Hong Kong and New Zealand “seemed to have benefited more from single-sex education than coeducation” (p. 248). Diaconu examined the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) databases for 1995, 1999 and 2003, finding that the advantage of Hong Kong girls from single-sex schools in TIMSS 2003 in science scores “remained statistically significant … even after accounting for differences in student background and school characteristics” (p. 248).

• Doo Hwan Kim and Helen Law’s analysis of Korea’s 2010 College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) results revealed “the advantage of attending a single-sex school”, stating that the “mean scores for both girls’ and boys’ schools were higher than those for their co-ed counterparts in all three major CSAT subjects: Korean, English and maths”.

• A study of 45,000 students who took the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in 1997 found that girls outperformed boys in most subjects whether at single-sex or co-educational schools, however girls performed best in single-sex schools, particularly in the science stream but also in the arts stream (Wong, Lam & Ho, 2002, pp. 827, 837, 838 & 840).