Why Co-ed?

The Benefits of Co-education for Pulteney Grammar School

Since 1999, when co-education was first introduced into Pulteney Grammar School, Flinders University, under the leadership of Dr Shirley Yates, has been conducting surveys annually to find out about the impact of the significant change on students’ achievement and general attitudes about the school. Students have also answered a few questions about their plans for further education after leaving school and the occupation or profession they would like to take up. The surveys have involved all students in the Preparatory, Middle and Senior schools.

The results from the survey of students in years 3 to 12, show that the school continues to go from strength to strength. Students are noticeably happier about their school life, particularly in the Middle and Senior schools and this is related to increases in their general level of achievement. There is much less competitiveness between students in the classrooms and, similarly, lower levels of friction between students.

It has long been known that students’ perceptions about the social and psychological atmosphere or climate of their school can have an effect on their achievement. This study has shown that students’ achievement and perceptions of school climate have improved considerably across the school following the introduction of co-education. The most recent analyses have also revealed that these results are not only significant for individual students, but also groups and classes of students. The influence of the group has been shown to have a powerful effect on students’ achievement.

In particular, students’ collective occupational aspirations and further education plans influence their achievement in the longer term. Students in groups with high aspirations and positive goals show significant increases in achievement over time.

Clearly the decision made by Pulteney Grammar School in 1998 to become co-educational continues to have ongoing benefits for the school. These positive results have also been shared through presentations at a number of internal and international conferences and publications.

The research has been funded by the Australian Research Council and Flinders University.

Dr Shirley Yates
School of Education
Flinders University – Adelaide - Australia