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Poll suggests girls' school pupils are more engaged in sport

A GSA poll states that girls at single-sex schools enjoy sport more than those at co-ed schools

Posted by Hannah Oakman | November 25, 2016 | Sports & Leisure

Caroline Jordan, President of the Girls’ School Association and Headmistress at Headington School, has revealed the results of a recent poll that was conducted with 148 sports directors at GSA schools. 85 of those surveyed responded and it illustrated that girls at single-sex schools enjoy sport more than girls that attend co-ed schools.

Credit: Simon Jones (Bonjour School Photography)

Caroline discussed the results at the Association’s annual conference, which was held in Oxford on 21st-22nd November.

“It is clear to me that girls in single-sex environments benefit hugely from being able to take part in, excel at and most importantly enjoy physical activity in whatever form that takes,” said Caroline. “In a recent poll of GSA sports directors, almost 59 per cent said that non-competitive fitness activities now have equal status with competitive sport in the school curriculum, though most were quick to point out that the two go hand-in-hand and team sports continue to have much to offer girls in terms of leadership skills, team and confidence building.”

“Certainly we do see time and time again, how girls’ engagement in team sports is more apparent in girls’ schools than it is in co-ed schools,” continued Caroline. “This is partly about access to facilities, but in my experience it’s really an issue of confidence and peer pressure. With no boys around to ‘impress’, I have always found that girls are far more likely to enjoy running around or an hour at lunchtime on the sports pitch than they might be in a co-ed environment.”

Simon Jones (Bonjour School Photography)

Caroline discussed these results in light of the news that many Olympic medallists and competitors have been educated in British Independent Schools. She explained that the schools were fortunate to have the facilities and expertise that nurtures elite athletes, but stated that this was not the sole reason why the schools invest in sport.

“For every Olympian who goes through our schools, there are thousands of girls who find new hobbies to keep them fit and healthy, develop their confidence and leadership skills and create new friendships,” said Caroline.

Headington School have recently responded to this drive towards health and wellbeing, by increasing their range of activities. Last year, they opened a new Dance and Fitness Centre, which was initially created to improve the training facilities for elite rowers but they received a huge response to dance classes.

Alongside discussing the impact of sport in girls’ schools, Caroline also covered topics including mental health, women in leadership and the importance of languages in schools.

For more information, visit the GSA website.

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