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Girls' schools still offering 'something special' says headteacher

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: February 02, 2011

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THE principal of Cheltenham Ladies' College has described single-sex education as a "winning formula", despite evidence showing the popularity of all-girls' schools is declining.

The latest edition of the Good Schools Guide, out tomorrow, includes the lowest percentage of single-sex girls' schools in its 25-year history.

Thirteen girls' schools that appeared in the first edition of the guide have been forced to close or merge.

Cheltenham Ladies' College was founded in 1853 and today educates about 865 girls aged 11 to 18. Principal Vicky Tuck said the proof of a good school should be the pupils that emerged from it.

She said: "Our focus should be on the pupils that emerge from the school, not what the school claims to offer."

Mrs Tuck said there was "something special" about the nurturing spirit of an all-girls' school.

"Our staff focus on excellence for our students, first and foremost – the fact that we only educate girls is not what preoccupies us," she said. "The fact that they do so well suggests that it's a winning formula worth preserving."

Janette Wallis, a senior editor of the Good Schools Guide, said the all-girls schools that have remained are the "cream of the crop".

"They really are stronger than girls' schools were 25 years ago. A lot of the deadwood has been swept away," she said. "Cheltenham Ladies' College is a great example."

Dr Alex Peterken, headmaster at Cheltenham College, which is co-educational, said there was no firm evidence that boys and girls did better when they were taught apart.

He said: "School is a preparation for life, and life is co-educational. Learning to live, work, interact and socialise with members of both sexes is all part of the challenge of adolescence."

Outside of the classroom, he said co-education was fundamental to students' social development.

He asked: "How can a single-sex school stage a variety show, school play, debate or concert with quite the same real-life sharing of experience and teamwork as a co-educational school can?"

"And perhaps most crucial of all, how many all-girls schools can provide their pupils with the opportunity to lead and manage boys?"

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    Squelcher, Cheltenham  |  February 04 2011, 4:23PM

    The 'head'line has gone viral... ha ha ha! http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/girls-schools-still-offering-something-special Can we have an article on this please?

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    Matt, USA  |  February 03 2011, 11:21PM

    Unfortunately the incorrect headline from the print edition has been scanned and distributed to a few comedy sites around the web and is now brightening the day of many a man, and boy.

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    Anon, Glos  |  February 02 2011, 1:26PM

    A registered charity indeed. And it still writes to all ex-pupils every year to ask for more money. Please. My message to any parents who would think of sending their daughter there? Don't bother. The "something special" (and I do agree about the humour) mainly involves taking your money, running your childs hopes, health, esteem and confidence into the ground and not giving a damn that they have done so. Perhaps they could contribute to Cheltenham in Bloom and at least facilitate some colour and brightness to the locals?

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    jellibelly, in bed  |  February 02 2011, 12:11PM

    Now there's a headline to make one stand to attention! TiG do it again.... and again... and again...

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    captain catt, seamen's mission  |  February 02 2011, 12:10PM

    Best laugh I've had all week! Whoever penned the headline was either very naïve or delightfully mischievous!

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    Feckless Eddie, Walking The Streets  |  February 02 2011, 12:06PM

    Despite the headline, which the editor of TiG needs to replace, before it appears on comedy shows around the world. The bigger issues is that this school, that charges £31 000 a year per pupil, is a charity and therefore enjoys certain tax breaks. Whilst I am no socialist and fully support free enterprise, I do find it morally wrong that they are a charity.

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    Matt, Cheltenham  |  February 02 2011, 11:24AM

    That has to be one of the funniest headlines ever.

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    Inspector Gadget, Cheltenham  |  February 02 2011, 9:44AM

    Read that headline again

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    Anon, Glos  |  February 02 2011, 9:38AM

    My experience of The Cheltenham Ladies' College is that they are only interested in a pupil if they are a straight A* candidate. I can't comment on now but a few years ago eating disorders were rife, in no small part probably because of the pressures put on pupils. The administration just buried its head in the sand and refused to acknowledge that there could be any problems at such an establishment. Pastoral care was a joke.

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