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.