Single-sex schooling

Dr Alice Sullivan discusses future outcomes for those who attended single-sex vs co-educational schools.

Single-sex and co-educational secondary schooling: life course consequences?

This research assesses the academic, social and economic consequences of single-sex and co-educational schooling for girls and boys while they are at school, and for men and women as they progress through life.

The National Child Development Study (NCDS) is a longitudinal study of a cohort born in Britain in a single week in March 1958, and the British Child Development Study (BCS70) is a longitudinal study of a cohort born in 1970. We will use them to answer a number of research questions:

  • Who has attended single-sex schools?
  • Do experiences of single/mixed sex schooling affect behaviour and emotional well-being during schooling?
  • Are academic outcomes affected by single/mixed sex education?
  • Does type of schooling affect occupational outcomes?
  • Does type of schooling affect social, domestic and health outcomes?

The use of two birth cohorts will allow us to see if there are changes in the type of people attending single-sex schools, and in their experiences of schooling. We can also examine whether there was any difference in the outcomes of single-sex schooling for the 1958 and 1970 cohorts.

Press release: New research dispels myths surrounding single-sex schooling

Media coverage:

  • Girls' school women 'earn more' - BBC Online, 22 September 2006
  • More career women from single-sex schools - Daily Mail Online, 22 September 2006
  • Single-sex schooling leads girls to the top jobs - Daily Mail Online, 22 September 2006
  • Boys-only education 'leads to divorce' - The Independent, 22 September 2006
  • Single-sex school girls choose jobs they enjoy and earn more - The Times, 22 September 2006
  • Old school girls excel - Metro, 22 September 2006
  • Single-sex schoolgirls 'earn more in later life' - TES Online, 22 September 2006
  • Gender mix has no exam impact - TES, 22 September 2006

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


Key Findings

See the ESRC Society Today website for the key findings from this research, and the End-of-Award Report.


Sullivan, A., Leonard, D. and Joshi, H. (2012) Single-sex and Co-educational Schooling: What are the social and family outcomes?, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 3(1) , 137-157.

Sullivan, A., Joshi, H. and Leonard, D. (2011) ‘Single-sex schooling and labour market outcomes.’ Oxford Review of Education 37(3) 311-332. 

Sullivan, A., Joshi, H. and Leonard, D. (2010) ‘Single-sex Schooling and Academic Attainment at School and through the Lifecourse’. American Education Research Journal 47(1) 6-36.
Sullivan, A. (2009) ‘Academic self-concept, gender and single-sex schooling’ British Educational Research Journal 35(2) 259-288. 

Gerova, V. (2005) Technical note on enhancing BCS70 Head Teacher school level dataset.

Sullivan, A. (2006) Academic self-concept, gender and single-sex schooling in the 1970 British Cohort Study, CLS Working Paper 2006/2, London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies. 

Leonard, D. (2006) “Single-sex and co-educational schooling: Lifecourse consequences?” Kohort (June 2006)
Leonard, D. (2006) “Single-sex schooling”, ch 14 in C Skelton, L Smulyan and B Francis (eds), Sage Handbook on Gender and Education.