Since the first students enrolled in our School in 1877, Toowoomba Grammar School has always been a school for boys. The School is one of nearly 200 all-boys’ schools which are members of an association known as the International Boys Schools’ Coalition.
This organisation involves boys’ schools from around the world (USA, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and China). As a school we remain committed to single-sex education. We acknowledge that boys are different from girls – biologically, developmentally and psychologically. The educational philosophy behind single-sex schooling reflects the differential rates of maturity exhibited between boys and girls, the different learning styles typically displayed by boys and girls, the effect of the presence of girls on boys’ academic self-esteem and the tendency for boys to revert to a perceived stereotypical form of masculinity when in the company of girls in the classroom. We acknowledge that boys are generally more impulsive than girls; they can sit still but prefer not to for too long unless engaged and challenged. Our teaching styles are “boy friendly”, our curriculum is relevant to the boys and we harness their natural competitiveness, inquisitiveness and humour.
Due to the absence of girls in the classrooms, we witness boys expressing themselves more freely and taking more positive academic “risks” without worrying about what girls would think of them or how their academic contribution would be judged. In the past I have witnessed in a co-educational setting many boys who have been somewhat intimidated by the presence of girls in the classroom. Girls are generally more focused in their studies and also possess a maturity which perhaps exceeds that of boys by some sixteen months, as aptly demonstrated by their superior linguistic skills at the same age. If forced to face this competition in a co-educational environment, some boys take the easier option and disengage from academic pursuits.
As Headmaster, I enjoy conducting public presentations in Toowoomba and elsewhere on the topic of boys’ education. Despite our acknowledgement of the clear benefits of educating boys in an all-boys’ setting, we also identify the importance of the boys having social interaction with girls from the neighbouring girls’ schools. These opportunities include social dancing, barbecues, socials, ten pin bowling, bush dances, pool parties, indoor rock climbing, semi-formal dinners and combined orchestras, cadets and school musicals with our sister schools in Toowoomba.
As we are a specialist boys’ school, the teaching staff are encouraged to study and practise the research relating specifically to educating boys. Such research comes from the work of academics from a number of Australian universities, such as The University of Newcastle (The Boys in Schools Programme at the Family Action Centre), The University of Melbourne and work published under the auspices of the International Boys Schools’ Coalition.
The teachers of Toowoomba Grammar School have made a conscious decision to teach boys in an all-boys’ setting and the superior academic results and impressive personal development of the boys are vividly evident.
Peter B. Hauser