6 Reasons British Single-sex Schools Suck

Single-sex schools are not rare in Britain. This may explain why many Britons are so repressed, and generally live life as though they were an inconvenience to it. Education has a lot to answer for; here's how it messes you up for life.

Ceci n'est pas une real schoolgirl

#6--A Breeding Ground of Hormonal Crazy

Generally, single-sex primary (or 'elementary' schools) aren't common. Also generally, though there may have been a spot of kiss-chase or private games of Doctor and Nurses going on, the girls thought the boys had cooties and vice versa.

So when do the hormones hit? Long past eleven, when you swap that cosy mixed-sex primary school with the warm classrooms and the teacher that smells of dough. Hormones tend to come at you like an angry lorry-driver with a gun when you turn fourteen. When you're imprisoned in a massive high-security prison, with a gym that doubles as an abbatoir when Year Nine have been naughty.

And all that's around you are your same sex, or older teachers of the opposite sex.

Two minutes after this picture was taken, a threesome occured

This may seem as a blessing to some, because, if you're straight, you need not worry that that special someone will see you across the room and blanch at the giant spot on your chin. However, more often than not that mad teen lust is displaced on the youngest member of the teaching faculty. You may think you're being subtle by staying behind after class to help them clear up, but in two years you will look back at such an incident and cringe.

And if you're gay--well, amongst the twenty-something pupils in your class, there's bound to be someone you lust after. You might even go for someone older, a teacher or star athlete Sixth Former. And what with 'gay' being a synonym for 'bad' in current British slang, you'll probably have to suffer in silence.
There'll be rumours about you being gay, by the way, but at some point or another everyone's rumoured to be gay. The only way around it is to loudly proclaim your love for your object of desire, possibly in the middle of lunchtime with the help of an orchestra, and I guarantee you the 'gay' rumours will segue seamlessly into 'fucking psycho' ones.

#5--Lack of Understanding re: Social Conventions

Don't advertise it, you moron.

At sixteen, or eighteen if you stay on for A-levels, you're released into the big, bad world. You might go on to university, or plunge right into the world of work. Whatever the case, when you first wander out of the confines of Saint Barty's School for the Specially Gifted, one thing will strike you--

Holy crap men and women are conversing together like it's normal!!!!

Being locked up with your own gender for most of the day, most of the week, and most of the year, creates some very odd thought processes. For girls, understanding of gossip, the rumour mill and general bitchiness is second nature by now. Perhaps you always stayed on the good side of the bully by picking on the weak one from the herd? Try this crap with someone not from that peer group and they'll look at you as though you're incredibly immature. Because gossip, extreme passive-aggressiveness and caring about Queen Bees disappeared from their lives a long time ago.

Oops. Burned that bridge already.

#4--The Other Gender Becomes the Enemy

The perfect date <3

Another side-effect of the seven-year imprisonment for something you never did is a complete lack of understanding at how the other sex works. Boys think girls are impressed by their Wedgie of the Year rosette and their distinct smell of testicular sweat and repressed emotion. Skills that were lifesavers in school become embarrassingly defunct when university is reached.

Here's a typical conversation I had with myself when I met A Boy at uni:

Him: Hey. [smile]
My Brain: omigodomigodomigod He is TALKING to you! Don't muck this up! I don't care if you like him or not, he has a penis and is thus potential boyfriend material! He's got blond hair, your kids would look adorable. He can't be that old, he's not wearing a t-shirt with vomit stains on, catch him while you can! He might like mysterious ladies! Or ones that are really direct!
Me: So, last night I wore fuck-me shoes in a 1920's detective office.

I didn't score a date for a while.

And it's not acceptable for you to ask if anyone has a sanitary towel in the hallway anymore.

#3--Lack of Comebacks to Sexism

LOL THAT IS SO FUNNY I WILL DEFINITELY SLEEP WITH YOU.

Women probably suffer from this more than men do, but it's not exclusive to one gender or the other. Despite the overriding bitchiness of an all-girls school, there is generally no belief that boys are 'better' at science subjects than girls, or that girls are stupid as a matter of course. It comes as a bit of rude shock when you're thrust into a culture that perpetuates such notions with comments that you find offensive and they find 'a bit of a laugh'.


When told you 'should' like and wear pink, because 'you're a girl', or you 'should' be able to fix something, because 'you're a man', it's hard to do anything the first time but gape at the person who said it. School is where a lot of your values come from, and being informed that you are wearing your gender incorrectly is a good way to confuse someone.

Perhaps it's a blessing you managed to keep your innocence for so long, but the fact remains that if a bloke told you to make them a sandwich, if you went to a co-ed school you'd probably have a failproof comeback for him that would leave him quivering in his shoes.

Or maybe you'd go the other way and laugh it away and not tell him off. Hell, maybe you'd actually make him a sandwich.

#2--'Are You Gay, Then?'

This is more of an annoyance than anything else. I was once told by a friend that I didn't seem like someone who went to a single-sex school because I was neither "a massive slag or a raving lesbian."

Like it or not, there is something of a belief that if you spent a prolonged amount of time amongst your own sex you were somehow 'turned gay'. It doesn't make sense, but neither does Ke$ha's success as an artist or why chocolate-coated chicken exists.

Apparently this is an erotically charged atmosphere.

Deflecting this question isn't difficult once you get used to it, but the first few times you're asked it you're left spluttering and dumbfounded, as you were when someone made that sexist remark to you. In time, you learn certain standards to reply with:

  • Ask your mother/father [delete as appropriate] [DO NOT USE when person asking is orphaned]
  • Yes, after last night you've made me see the light
  • Hang on, let me check
  • No, but I'm also not entirely human
  • Don't assume I'm gay and I won't assume you're a twatwaffle
  • What's that? [best used if you went to a religious school]

But one thing trumps all of these things...one thing is the absolute sodding worst about going to a single-sex school...

#1--The Uniforms

SO...MANY...COLOURS...

Green, brown, velvet ribbons, straw boaters; chances are, if you go to a single-sex school, it's 'old and established'. Do you know what 'old and established' places have? Bonkers school uniforms.

Like this. Seriously.

And if the place is old and crusty, the teachers will be the same. Your uniform will be held to exacting standards. Your skirt must be on the knee, or one inch above or below it. And it mustn't be made out of a fabric that makes it look good, either, you have to wear the one apparently made of hessian sacking and dyed with your House Colours. You may think you'll try and get round the system, and they'll just send you to the Spare Uniform box and you, lucky thing, get to wear some puke-splattered thing left over from the day they did the cross-country run in PE.

The school knows it has power over you and your parents' money. Sometimes they'll introduce completely random and arbitrary changes, like a new blazer if you become a prefect. It's a different colour and sets you back eighty pounds. You'll buy regulation hockey socks and school stripes and local kids will throw things at you as you board the bus and you'll think longingly of the world outside where you can wear what you want, when you want...

--and be continuously asked about your sexual preferences, make a fool of yourself in front of the person you like, cringe when you remember how you 'subtley' told Mr. James you loved him, blush red when someone tells you you can't do something because of your gender, and forever feel out of place in a conversation.

And you'll still remember all the words to the school song.