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Reflection on My Experiences with Australian Single-Sex Schooling: Research of Canterbury Boys High School

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Part A

Canterbury Boys High School is a secondary school which consists of male students from years 7-12, the school has a small student populus compared to other schools within the area, there is a majority of students who are from a language background other than English (LBOTE). The school is located in the sydney metropolitan area, and also enrols a small amount of Indigenous students (Myschool)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) students for Canterbury Boys and Girls High School in years 7-8 are escorted to Canterbury Public School to support and act as mentors for ATSI students that will soon attend high school. This allows them to build confidence when starting their high school journey.

There is also extensive support for students that have learning difficulties with any area within the schooling curriculum. Learning and support teachers (LaST), target students with specific learning difficulties and implements special learning programs that will assist identify their learning needs.

School learning support officers (SLSO) works in conjunction with LaST to recognize intellectual, physical, emotional or mental health needs for students and assist the implementation of Individual Education Programs. There is a homework centre which staff helps students finish and understand the concepts that are being learnt in assessment task and homeworks once a week. With these support networks, the general student well-being can be boosted, as the attendance and accomplishments can be carefully monitored. The school actively creates opportunities for parents to meet one another to discuss how the school can meet the students needs.

The school also has access to variety of programs to better the students and prepare them for their lives after secondary schooling. The ABCN Program, Interview2Impress is an interactive program designed to teach students the necessary skills for future employment. Students are taught on non-verbal communications, the typical structure of interviews, and practise mock interviews in which they can attempt to present the knowledge they have learnt.

Also, UNSW Aspire, which is an outreach program to help students achieve better results, to ultimately enter university. The program cater to year 7 and 10 students with workshops and talks about how the ATAR works to scholarships and university fees. Students from year 10 are invited to a 3 day program that which involves meeting the ASPIRE ambassadors and various mentors from different faculties for the students to gain a better insight of their future career paths.

As the school consists of students from many different backgrounds, a cultural celebration known as Harmony day is held yearly. The purpose of inclusiveness and respect for all Australians, regardless of race and culture. The students and staff are welcome to engage in the cultural dancing and music, with food and drinks from different cultures being served.

Part B

Bullying is an aggressive act which can be classified through different conditions. First is the cruel behaviours purposed to cause harm and distress, second is the repetitives nature of these acts being carried out over a certain period of time, lastly the relationship where there is a clear imbalance of power between the parties involved (Stein, Dukes & Warren, 2006, p. 273, as cited in American Psychological Association (APA), 2005; Gini, 2004; Nansel et al., 2001; Olweus, 1993).

Stein et al. (2006) states that bullying and victimisation are universal in nature, and is globally recognised and studied. The studies conducted show that there are concerning trends for these bullies, some examples include being prone to alcohol abuse, psychiatric symptoms, difficulty following rules and poor adjustment into schooling.

Contrastingly, the victims of bullying showed signs of depression, loneliness, and had a negative self-image, issues which arose later (Stein et al., 2006). Kumpulainen, K., Räsänen, E., Henttonen, I., Almqvist, F., Kresanov, K., Linna, S. et al. (1998) studies show that boys were 4-5 times more prone to becoming bullies or victims than girls, and the boys that bullied generally being stronger than their victims. In light of this, violence in schools is important to examine the cause for such behaviour found predominantly in boys.

With the school situated in the metropolitan area of Sydney, cultural diversity and differences are becoming a commonplace in schools. N.Satoro (2009) emphasises how there must be adequate teachers within the field that can understand and support students from different cultures, as well as the educators understanding their own backgrounds and ethnicity to allow students to better bond with teachers, which can lead to a better learning environment. Teachers tend to prefer working in schools which they seem to have a cultural and social connection to their own, as a great number of students are LBOTE teachers that are inexperienced with the different ethnic students will fail to being effective (N.Satoro, 2009).

Socioeconomic status (SES) is arguably the leading conceptual variable used in educational research, as the relationship between SES and a students academic outcome fluctuates significantly. Sirin, S. R., (2005) studies shows that the relationship between a students SES and their academic results is due to several factors. Such as the grade level of the students, from a minority group and the location of the school, and as Canterbury Boys High School has a SES lower than the average in the state, students are more susceptible to the relationship between SES and students potential.

The relationship between SES and academic results in relation to the students grade/age showed a diminishing result. Sirin, S. R., (2005) points to two different possibilities, First, school systems could provide a learning experience which aims to equalized the students as much as possible the longer they stay in that particular school. Second, is the result of the students with a low SES dropping out to pursue a career as quick as they can, thus reducing the gap as the students age.

As the school enrolls many students from varying cultures and backgrounds, it is possible for differing results from culture to culture. However, minority students tend to lag behind the average student, there are a some notable explanations such as living in lower-income households, parents having limited education or in single parent families (Sirin, S. R., 2005). Ultimately limiting the schooling with limited fundings, which links to the academic loss.

Furthermore, the location of the school can play a part in the social and economic circumstances of the students. The U.S. Department of Education, (2000) found data regarding the significant differences between schools in affluent neighbourhoods and schools which are considered “disadvantaged”.

The separation of gender has existed throughout history, the most common example of this in our modern lives would probably be in the schooling system. As schools can influence the students overall development, there is much debate on whether single-sex education or coeducation is better for a students learning experience and future prospects. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association with over 1.6 million students from the ages of 5 to 18 between 1968 and 2013 found that there was evidence to support that the difference between male and female learning abilities were trivial, some of these include mathematics, verbal ability, self esteem and leadership qualities (Hyde, J. S., 2014). Another important dilemma is in regards to the lack of experience and interactions in single-sex schooling compared to coeducational schools (Wong, I. W., as cited in Fabes RA, Pahlke E, Borders AZ, Galligan K. US principals’ attitudes about and experiences with single-sex schooling. Educ Stud. 2015; 41(3): 293–311). Interacting with others from the opposite gender in a vital area for an adolescents’ psychological and social development, which cannot be replicated from same-gender interactions (Wong, I. W., 2018, p. 17, as cited in Grover RL, Nangle DW, Serwik A, Zeff KR. Girl friend, boy friend, girlfriend, boyfriend: Broadening our understanding of heterosocial competence. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2007; 36(4): 491–502 ) Wong, I. W., (2018) shows results which favour mixed schools rather than single-sex schools in relation to gender salience, friends from opposite sex and anxiety during schooling years and through to university. Students from single sex schools were found to be more anxious when in mixed gender situations and had far fewer friends from the other gender.

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As previously mentioned, the claims which support that single-sex schools being superior are trivial and insignificant. It would seem appropriate to allow young students to be exposed to mixed-gender to potentially avoid issues later in their lives. It is clear that there is no enough research within this area of education, and should require more focus on the implications on the social and psychological impacts of single-sex schooling, comparative to mixed-gender schools.

Part C

Reflection

My experiences with Australian schooling has been mostly positive and some could say privileged to a certain extent. I attended both public and private schooling and can appreciate both systems and also realise the potential drawback from these two different environments.

Growing up as a middle class migrant from another country meant that as a young child, had to adapt to the change in culture and expectations of this country. Primary school was a difficult time, as I had trouble with English and frequently caused problems within the classroom. The school could not effectively cater to students like me as there was such a wide variety of personalities and cultures. Due to this my parents believed opting for private schooling was ideal for my needs, whilst the support from teachers and staff was far grounded than public schools, it was difficult to make lasting friendships and connections with the other students. Some potential reasons could include the late enrolment or the difference in social class, as a middle class family, the difference in lifestyle and perspectives could have been the inhibiting factor. Interestingly, the friends made were of similar culture and were within the middle class range.

High School was when I decided to return to public schooling, as school fees were getting expensive. The school was average relative to other schools within the area, teachers which students had a genuine connection and respect were few in number and the quality of teaching was inconsistent from year to year.

The school had a large LBOTE student population and there was great cultural diversity and acceptance amongst most students. As the student population was quite large, students had little difficulty finding friends and forming groups whom they had similarities and values.

As Canterbury Boys High School is a all boys and is situated in the urban area, it is possible to assume that the social dynamics would be similar to those of which I have experienced in during high school. There is however a significantly smaller student population compared to the surrounding schools and what I have experience (Myschool). However, I believe that through my understanding and exposure of secondary education would assist me greatly, as I could better form connections with students due to my own personal positioning.

Justification

As we previously explored the social dynamics which could potentially play out, there are measures to help counteract negative outcomes for the students. In reference to literature, I will be examining methods to be inclusive to the student population.

Bullying can occur anywhere, from schools to workplaces and can affect the well beings of the victims and the perpetrator negatively short and long term. There are some interesting methods proposed by Maria M. Ttofi & David P. Farrington (2010) review on school based programs on tackling bullying. New programs are more effective when inspired by previously established programs which were successful, with modifications considering the aspects found practical or impractical (Maria M. Ttofi & David P. Farrington, 2010). An example of this is playground supervision as an element which were found to have relationship to a effective program. It is understandable that this would prove efficient, as a majority of targeted bullying occurs during recess and lunch breaks (Farrington, D. P. & Ttofi, M. M., 2010).

Disciplinary action is a form of intervention which is proven to be effective in the reduction in both bullying and the victimisation. Such could include a variety of sanctions, including stern talks with bullies, visits to the principal, close monitoring during breaks, and being deprived of privileges (Farrington, D. P. & Ttofi, M. M., 2010). Farrington and Ttofi found results which show that programs to target bullying were more effective towards senior students compared to junior students. This may be due to older students having developed superior cognitive and behavioural abilities, decrease impulsiveness, and a better tendency of making rational decisions.

Furthermore, Anti-bullying actions should go outside of the schooling system and should target different aspects such as family. Studies show that bullied students often found it difficult to communicate their issues with anyone, whilst guardians and teachers would not talk to the bullies about their behaviours (Farrington and Ttofi, 2010, p. 46, as cited by Fekkes et al. 2005). It is important to inform parents about issues with bullying through educational presentations and parent teacher interviews as the cooperation with parents related strongly to the significant decrease in bullying and victims of bullying (Farrington and Ttofi, 2010).

Cultural diversity at Canterbury Boys High School is widespread and prominent, which is common for most schools in the urban area. This large variety of ethnic groups can be daunting for teachers who are unfamiliar with these different cultures, typically for preservice teachers (Milner, R. 2006). Milner, R. (2006) reinforces the idea of importance of preservice teachers developing knowledge of the diversity in schools, particularly ones within the urban areas.

Critical reflection is highly thought to be a necessity for preservice teachers. Such reflection should be focus on themselves and upbringing, their potential students and their experiences and other communities. In other words, new knowledge and insight about the racial and ethical differences must be established to break down the numerous stereotypes that may have been internalised throughout the years (Milner, R. 2006, as cited in McIntosh, P., 1990). It is observable that self evaluation is of utmost importance to understand the students from different cultures, through the self evaluation my own cultural positionings.

Socioeconomic status (SES) and ethnic background can be related in terms of school locations. Compared to rural and urban areas, suburban communities hold a higher SES and are mostly White (Milner, R. 2006).

As urban and rural schools are two ends of the spectrum, these two schooling locations tend to have a high percentage of students living in poor households, single-parented families, and lack of resources and lower credentialed teachers, in particular urban schools (Perry, L. B. & Mcconney, A. 2010). Also due to urban schools enrolling a larger range of backgrounds, values and merits, there must be a greater variety of curricula to cater for the diversity of students. Hence, lower SES schools are less inclined to focus on academical education, rather vocational (Perry, L. B. & Mcconney, A. 2010, as cited Edwards, 2006).

(Milner, R. 2006, as cited in Ennis & McCauley, 2002; Ferguson, 2000; Kozol, 1992; Weiner, 2003). Sirin, S. R. (2005) outlines some possible interventions that may improve those in lower SES, who would have fallen behind because of their background. Such examples include smaller classrooms and schools (Sirin, S. R., 2005, as cited in Glass & Smith, 1989), childhood education, after-school and holiday (Sirin, S. R., 2005, as cited in Entwisle & Alexander, 1994), programs, and better qualified teacher (Sirin, S. R., 2005, as cited in Wang et al., 1993). All the methods mentioned have proven to be an important contributor in lowering the gap between the low and high SES students. Future programs should target on supporting the students at risk of failing school due to family SES, as the current system would lead to an intergenerational loop of diminishing results from families with lower SES (Sirin, S. R., 2005).

As children go through adolescence, the development of cognitive abilities allows a better understanding of their environment in new ways (Pahlke, E. & Hyde, J. S., 2016). Adolescence also indicates the beginning of a increase in socioemotional growth. Students at this age are more prone to develop internalizing issues (Pahlke, E. & Hyde, J. S., 2016, as cited in Graber, J., 2004). Also, single-sex school can limit the interactions with the other gender, resulting in a lack of experience and confidence after their school lives (Pahlke, E. & Hyde, J. S., 2016). The understanding of the potential of which single-sex education compared to coeducation better care for the students socioemotional growth will allow teachers to better support the overall well-being of the students (Pahlke, E. & Hyde, J. S., 2016).

I believe that through collaboration with other schools (preferably from the other sex) can single sex schools face the issues regarding the lack of interaction between the boys and girls, and also reap the claimed benefits of single-sex education.

  1. MySchool https://www.myschool.edu.au/school/41147
  2. Canterbury Boys High School Term 2 2017 newsletter https://canterburb-h.schools.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/doe/sws/schools/c/canterburb-h/newsletter/2017/6/ctn_term_2_2017_1498791612744.pdf
  3. Canterbury Boys High School Term 1 2018 newsletter https://canterburb-h.schools.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/doe/sws/schools/c/canterburb-h/newsletter/2018/ctn_term_1_2018_1523249298112.pdf
  4. Canterbury Boys High School Term 3 2018 newsletter https://canterburb-h.schools.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/doe/sws/schools/c/canterburb-h/newsletter/2018/CTN_Term_3_2018.pdf
  5. Ersilia, M & Christina, S (2017) Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions, Psychology, Health & Medicine, 22:sup1, 240-253, DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2017.1279740
  6. Hyde, J. S. (2014) The Gender Similarities Hypothesis, American Psychologist, 2005, Vol.60(6), p.581-592
  7. Maria M. Ttofi & David P. Farrington (2010) Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: a systematic and meta-analytic review
  8. Milner, R. 2006. Pre-service teachers: Learning about cultural and racial diversity. Implications for urban education. Urban Education 41, no. 4: 343–75.
  9. Pahlke, E. & Hyde, J. S. (2016) The Debate Over Single-Sex School. Child Development Perspectives, 1 June 2016, Vol.10(2), pp.81-86
  10. Perry, L. B. & Mcconney, A. (2010) Does the SES of the School Matter? An Examination of Socioeconomic Status and Student Achievement Using PISA 2003. Teachers College Record, 2010, Vol.112(4), p.1137-1162
  11. Santoro, N. (2009). Teaching in culturally diverse contexts: What knowledge about ‘self’ and ‘other’ do teachers need? Journal of Education for Teaching 35(1), 33-45.
  12. Sirin, S. R. (2005). Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research. 75(3), p. 417-453.
  13. Sirin, S. R. (2005). Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research. 75(3), p. 417-453.
  14. Stein, J. A., Duke, R. L, Warren, J. I. (2006). Adolescent Male Bullies, Victims, and Bully-Victims: A Comparison of Psychosocial and Behavioral Characteristics.
  15. Wong, I. W. (2018) Students from single-sex schools are more gender-salient and more anxious in mixed-gender situations: Results from high school and college samples. 13(12).

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Reflection on My Experiences with Australian Single-Sex Schooling: Research of Canterbury Boys High School. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/reflection-on-my-experiences-with-australian-single-sex-schooling-research-of-canterbury-boys-high-school/
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