Our 1360 boys and girls are taught in single-sex classes at key stages of their education, prior to entering our co-educational Sixth Form. Until then, the boys and girls share the same classrooms and the same teachers: just not at the same time!

At age 4, boys and girls are taught together in the Pre-Preparatory School. Boys and girls are taught separately from age 7 to 11 in the Preparatory School and also from age 11 to 16 in the Senior School, before joining co-educational classes at 16 for Sixth Form study.

Unlike in single-sex schools, boys and girls at Forest spend time together during break, at lunchtime and after school using the same playgrounds, fields, libraries, social areas, tuck shops, dining hall, buses to school, and engaging in co-educational co-curricular activities such as drama, music, clubs and societies, trips and meetings.

Learning about learning

Forest has been a diamond structure school for over 40 years. Over that time the School has developed expertise through first-hand experience of the way boys and girls tend to learn. Through the diamond structure, our teachers are able to focus on building our pupils’ learning characteristics so that they can develop the learning aspects and behaviours which may come less naturally to them.

Knowing the individual

Forest teachers teach both classes of boys and classes of girls. While the syllabus is the same, our teachers can employ relevant strategies and delivery techniques for each group. Unlike at co-educational schools where boys and girls may both act up to type and exaggerate gender differences, Forest teachers can identify and address the innate differences they see between boys’ and girls’ learning and behaviour, and then also allow for the differences among boys and among girls.

We firmly believe that as boys and girls approach and then start their teenage years they do have different learning needs. For example, we know that many girls tend to take a more step-by-step approach to learning. Forest teachers understand this and encourage their girls’ classes to take more calculated risks in their work. This is particularly important at A level, where pupils need more than just a methodological approach and bite size revision to achieve the very best grades. It is no surprise to us that our girls opt for traditionally male-dominated subjects such as Physics and Design Technology.

Equally, many boys will temper their competitive instincts and become more collaborative in a single-sex setting, finding it easier to do all the things we want them to do as learners without self-consciousness. In English, for example, boys will willingly explore the emotional life through writing poetry, and will share creative ideas or readily seek support from the teacher in a comfortable, open environment.

Diamond teaching therefore enables the School to encourage wider definitions of masculinity and femininity. Through challenging gender stereotypes in the classroom and by encouraging boys and girls to step out of their comfort zones, Forest pupils acquire skills that single-sex and coeducational schools cannot teach so readily.

The best of all worlds

A diamond structure school offers all the academic benefits of single-sex teaching with all the social benefits of a co-educational school. The best of all worlds.