Single Sex Schooling Think Tank Summary

Single Sex Schooling Think Tank Summary

Date: Wednesday 18/08/2021

The Virtual Think Tank on Single Sex Schooling attracted over one hundred participants from a wide background including, over 14 universities (Australian, and International), as well as schools from across Australia.

It is a topic of interest from across the spectrum. The panel discussed single sex schooling from a range of angles anchored by the fundamental question of how important is personalised education for students learning in today’s world? Many factors drive parental choice including heritage, gender-specific intergeneration ideas and reputation. Social and demographic factors also impact and limit choice and/or access. Stereotypes in schools are reflected close to Australian society and this societal and parental messaging impacts upon career choices. Often very early, even in the primary years.

The panel provided a robust and professional dialogue, learning from each other, utilizing the efficiency of technology. Some of the key points included:


  • ISQ reported that there were 22 single sex schools in Qld and that trends across the last 10 years revealed no significant increases or decreases with only 2-3% variations in marketshare, meaning those that existed were very stable.
  • Schools reported significant demand continues, with one citing a 3.5 times demand to current capacity.
  • ISQ also reported that whilst there was prestige examples of heritage and well-established single sex schools on the panel, approximately 20% of single sex schools in Qld were for disengaged students from mainstream schools – Special Assistance Schools.

Gender and Wellbeing

  • Allowing for all different gender constructs, inclusivity and being able to celebrate those different constructs, is important part of any modern school.
  • Students want a personalized learning experience, a school culture that allows for a gender continuum, not necessarily a gender binary.

Personalised learning

  • Defined as personalised to the student, not personalised or customised curriculum.
  • Students, male and female, have to learn to regulate their own learning, to deconstruct complex questions and problems and collaborate with those around them, in order to use that knowledge meaningfully. These are very important skills for the modern student.
  • To personalise the student experience, means to understand the goals and aspirations the family wants for their child’s education; understanding where the student is from; their background; their interests; their strengths; and their own goals and aspirations.
  • It was pointed out that there were many practical benefits in single sex schools that can tailor their curriculum for young women or men, for example in the Sports Program offered or the novels students study.

Confidence (Hands Up For Gender Equity)

  • Self-confidence diverges about age 10 – whereby the importance of the environment surrounding a young person mattered and affected their confidence.
  • The Principals cited the importance of a student being known and a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
  • Hands up for Gender Equality, a report by Dr Terry Fitzsimmons, studied confidence levels in adolescent girls and boys across 10,000 students in Years 7-12 in same sex schools. Girls were found to have equal confidence levels to boys.
  • In addition, when UQ were researching the background of CEOs in ASX companies – examining the backgrounds of 60 CEO’s – the commonality of success wasn’t gender, wasn’t city or country – it was they all came from highly resourced, highly engaged schools that had involved teachers and also enabled parents to be involved.
  • 3 specific factors underpin a young person’s confidence
    • Team Sport – biggest contributor by far to self confidence
    • Opportunities for Leadership Development – sharing leadership, both sport and in the classroom
    • Travel such as family holidays – not school excursions, enabling unsupervised freedom within a bit of structure

Planning for new schools

  • Planning for new schools has long lead times – need align capital planning and investment cycles.
  • New single sex schools may take different shapes/structures to traditional models. Some research suggests there could be single sex classes offered with a co-ed school for certain age groups or certain subjects
  • There is a demand gap in Springfield projected for private school enrolments of up-to 3000 students by 2026.
  • The Springfield objective remains to orchestrate school offerings that provide parent choice and education choices for all.
  • Springfield is a Learning City – where learning is valued and championed. We invite anyone who wants to share in that vision and aspiration to make contact with us.



Media Recordings

Youtube ref: Think Tank – 18 August 2021 : Click here

ABC Brisbane Recording – Tuesday 17 August 2021 : Click here

ABC Brisbane Recording – Tuesday 24 August 2021: Click here

4BC with Spencer Howson – Sunday 15 August 2021: Click here

References – in order of appearance

[1] Fitzsimmons, T.W., Yates, M. S., & Callan, V. (2018). Hands Up for Gender Equality: A Major Study into Confidence and Career Intentions of Adolescent Girls and Boys. Brisbane, Qld: AIBE Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace – The University of Queensland.

[2] Gill, J., Esson, K., & Yuen, R. (2016). A Girl’s Education Schooling and the Formation of Gender, Identities and Future Visions (1st ed. 2016.). Palgrave Macmillan UK: Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan.

[3] Pallotta-Chiarolli, Maria. (2018). Living and Loving in Diversity: Australian Multicultural Queer Adventures.