Boys’ schools are not simply “schools
comprised of boys,” but schools for
boys, says Brad Adams, executive
director of The International Boys’
Schools Coalition, a global network of
200 leading schools for boys.
“They are designed in every way to
respond to their needs, to harness their
potential and to guide them along the
journey towards full and responsible
manhood,” he says.
According to Adams, great schools for
boys start with how boys learn.
“Good teachers in these schools
have always plied their craft with intuitive
good sense and wise observation about
what ‘works’ to engage boys,” he says.
Schools for boys teach to the
ways boys learn best, with a strong
competitive and active component. They
are also savvy in deploying approaches
that lift achievement in reading and
writing—where many boys struggle.
Exposure to the arts
Everyone knows that boys’ schools
are great places for sports, with topnotch
facilities and programs, but
Adams points out that the first stop on
a tour of a thriving school for boys is
often the new fine arts studio, theatre,
the design and technology facility or
the music rehearsal and performance
spaces. Schools for boys can be
highly effective in encouraging them to
explore these areas.
He says that there is also evidence
that students in schools for boys are
more likely to explore subjects that
might be considered “unmasculine” and
to pursue a broader range of disciplines
and vocations thereafter.
“The distinct advantage of an all-boys’
learning environment means that boys
routinely and naturally rise to tasks that
girls might otherwise do,” he says.
“Boys lead in every aspect of
classroom discussion and participation
and show a wider, more complete range
of engagement and thought than might
be the case in a coed environment.”
Growing up can be difficult for boys
who can pick up the message that
emotional connectedness and
expression are unmanly: better to hide
behind that tough-skinned exterior. This
leaves many boys vulnerable and alone,
often without support and skill and, in
many cases, unable to express their
That’s where boys’ schools come in.
Boys’ schools provide an empathy-building
environment with staff that is
well able to respond to their needs,
Tackling issues head-on
“Medical research from around
the world is consistent: men—and
boys—are not very good at taking care
of themselves,” Adams says. “They
are more likely than girls to engage in
high-risk activities, abuse substances
and commit violence. Far more boys
than girls are diagnosed with learning
disabilities and medicated.”
These issues are tackled head-on
at boys’ schools, which aim to keep
students active, fit and engaged and
provide support and counselling
according to Adams. Boys’ schools
are able to tackle the toughest issues
in assemblies and in the curriculum.
The business of boyhood
While setting clear and firm boundaries
and expectations, schools for boys are
wise about the business of boyhood.
“Educators in schools for boys
champion them as rich in potential to
achieve,” says Adams.
Ourkids.net lists a complete selection of
boys only schools.