Empowering our girls
Elizabeth Falco, Canadian Liaison for The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools
(NCGS), challenges us to imagine a school where every student in the jazz
band is a girl. The captain of the touch football team is a girl. The student council
is made up of all girls. Girls win poetry contests and physics competitions. Girls
are on stage and backstage.
They design robots, produce documentary films and paint expressive
murals. They lead the environmental club and the Hip Hop class. They
debate world issues and take on social causes with compassion.
This is what Falco, who is also the Head of School at The Study, an all-girls’
independent day school in Montreal, Quebec, witnesses every day.
She says that girls’ schools offer an environment where students don’t
hesitate to ask questions, make mistakes, express their feelings or state
“They are nurtured, empowered and celebrated,” she says. “Girls’
schools are successful in transforming the lives of young women because of
their focused learning environment, their unique culture and climate
and the endless opportunities for leadership development.”
Learning tailored to their needs
All-girls’ schools are designed to cater to their students, their developmental
needs and the unique ways in which they learn.
Teachers at all-girls’ schools are specialists of girls’ learning.
“In general, girls prefer communicative and collaborative approaches where
connections are made with people and concepts,” Falco says.
According to Falco, teachers in all-girls’ schools are attuned to the socio-emotional
development of girls and are able to shape the teaching-learning environment to meet the students’ needs and interests.
Removing the gender variable in the classroom helps teachers optimize each girl’s unique potential, Falco says.
Research provided by the NCGS shows that 82 per cent of recent girl’s school graduates are satisfied or extremely satisfied with the how well their schools instilled self-confidence and that 84 per cent give their schools top marks for providing leadership opportunities.
Girls thrive while taking centre stage. As a result, students who attend schools for girls are more likely to succeed at, and stick with courses such as math, science and technology, the NCGS reports.
Building a strong network of women
“The single-sex environment allows girls to explore their true selves—to articulate their opinions and feelings in class, to create playful and silly skits at assembly, cheer loudly on House Days and take intellectual risks in their curricular and co-curricular programs,” says Falco. “Class time is spent focused on learning.”
High standards and support from both teachers and peers drive students to achieve. Alumnae of girls’ schools readily attribute their confidence and success to the all-girls’ environment and value the strong network of women they have established through their schools, according to Falco.
Shattering glass ceilings
At all girls schools, the role models for leadership and citizenship in all aspects
of school life—academics, athletics, arts and community—are girls. This
sets high expectations for students and provides endless opportunities.
“Accomplishments—whether big or small, public or private—are valued by
everyone. There are no glass ceilings,” says Falco.
“Girls have a strong sense of themselves and their capabilities and
are determined to make a difference.“