Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 19, 2010
Calgary Catholic Schools experiment with single gender classes
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
CALGARY - Beginning next fall, the Calgary Catholic School district will offer single gender classrooms to parents who want that option for their children.
The program will be offered at Sacred Heart Elementary School in the community of Sunalta starting in September. The district's board of trustees approved the move March 31.
Edmonton Catholic, for its part, has been offering a successful all girls' leadership academy for nearly five years.
Calgary Catholic has been exploring the viability of opening elementary single-gender schools for several months and has held a parent information meeting to gauge interest.
District spokesperson Janet Corsten said, "It's really something we wanted to offer as an option to parents and the Sacred Heart School community came forward and thought that it would make sense in their school."
Boys and girls at Sacred Heart will be in the same school, but divided into different classrooms.
Under this model, students will come together for certain school activities and learning opportunities but will maintain single gender classrooms for most of the school day, Corsten said.
Sacred Heart, a kindergarten to Grade 6 school, features uniforms for students, a full-day kindergarten program, a focus on technology to support classroom instruction and a strong daily physical education program.
The school will start planning for the 2010-11 school year soon.
"If the program is successful and we do hear from parents that they would like to expand the program into junior high school or senior high school, it's something that we might consider," Corsten said.
An information session will be held April 22 at Sacred Heart School.
Edmonton's All Girls' Jean Forest Leadership Academy has been so successful it will be expanded to Grade 12 next year. Currently it has 160 students. Grades 7 to 9 are housed at St. Basil's School and Grades 10 to 11 at St. Joseph's High School.
"The girls that attend do very, very well because their curriculum, of course, is enhanced with things such as community partnership with women organizations," said Edmonton Catholic spokesperson Lori Nagy. "They try to have female leaders of the community come and speak to them."
Before the program started, "we did look at research and some of the research did show that girls who attend classes without boys tend to participate more in discussion, have higher self-esteem and have better grades," Nagy said.
"Girls who attend same gender classes do better in standardized tests and earn doctorates as well as fill high level employment positions than their co-educated peers."
The mission of the academy is to "provide the finest Christ-centred learning environment which inspires young women to develop in spirit, leadership, intellect, self-discovery and service."
All girls at the academy wear the school uniform, which helps achieve equality among the students.
"(The academy) has been very successful and I think from what we hear from parents they are very pleased to have another choice for their daughters," Nagy said.
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