Williamstown High School’s Girls Only Homegroups is a unique program that offers girls single-sex education within a co-educational setting. As part of the 2001 amalgamation with Point Gellibrand Girls’ Secondary College, the colleges chose to honour the educational setting of a single-sex school that had been running for 75 years, and we have maintained its commitment to girls-only education through the Girls Only Homegroups program.
Each student at Williamstown High School is an individual with unique responses to teaching and learning environments. The Girls Only classes offer students a chance to learn in a single-sex environment, but with the capacity to interact with the co-educational program. We have three separate streams to meet the needs of students: Mainstream Co-Educational, Accelerated Learning and Girls Only Homegroups. There is no definitive statement or research to indicate that girls will achieve higher results in a single-sex environment. However, trends in research indicate that many girls may thrive in a single-sex learning environment:
- Girls at single-sex schools were less likely to see themselves as ‘below average’ in Maths and Science” (Sullivan, 2009, p. 281).
- Single- sex schooling “generally promoted a gender-atypical self concept” (ibid, p. 281), meaning that gender stereotypes are less present in girls-only classes, particularly in regards to subject selections.
- Sullivan’s study concluded that “single-sex environments can actually reduce the tendency of students to behave according to gender-typical stereotypes or norms” (ibid p. 26).
- An Australian study looking at the status of women in Science noted “girls perform better in Science in single-sex schools, especially when Science and mathematics are compulsory subjects in high school” (Bell, O’Halloran, Saw & Zhao, 2009, p. 36).
- A study in America found that “a positive impact of single-sex schooling on the academic, attitudinal, and social achievement levels of students, especially female students’ (Morrell, 2009, p. 194).
Essentially, the Girls Only Homegroups offers students a chance to learn in a single-sex environment. This program has many holistic benefits for the girls; they will learn and grow together in a caring, supportive and empowering environment.
What Does the Girls Only Homegroup Offer?
The Girls classes have a coordinator who works with curriculum leaders to promote and enhance girls’ education through our teaching and learning but more importantly Anne Gaylor is a wonderful role model who works with our young women to promote and encourage excellence and aspiration across the school.
Girls Only Homegroups may be offered at each year level but this is dependent on enrolment demand on a yearly basis. The Girls Only Homegroups program also offers some girls-only subjects in VCE (depending on demand). The Girls Coordinator organises specific girls-only development opportunities and activities in academic and personal contexts such as guest speakers for special assemblies, self-esteem, leadership and wellbeing workshops. Each year, Williamstown High School celebrates International Women’s Day, with a variety of celebration assemblies and special guest speakers. The Girls Coordinator follows the academic needs of students and encourages extra curricula involvement. Students in the Girls Only Homegroups are given opportunities to take on various leadership positions within the school, including the newly introduced “Young Women of Willi” Leadership role. The student in this role represents all girls at the Bayview Campus, but is chosen from the Year 9 Girls Only Homegroups.
How Does the Curriculum Differ from the Mainstream Coeducational Classes?
At Williamstown High School teachers differentiate the learning to best suit the needs of their students.
Our girls learn the same skills and content as the mainstream curriculum but through instructions, activities and coursework that is tailored towards the individual needs of girls’ education.
For example, as part of their English studies, Girls Only Homegroups study novels or films that feature female protagonists, which allows them to learn about women’s lives in the particular social and historical context of the text. Likewise, during Health and Physical Education lessons, a Girls Only Homegroup has the opportunity to deeply explore issues significant to the health and well-being of teenage girls in a girls-only learning environment.
We are developing our curriculum to ensure that we are focusing more on meeting the needs and interests of the girls-only classes across all subject and curriculum areas.
Enrolment into the Girls Only Homegroups
All female students are eligible to apply to be in a Girls Only Homegroups and there are no entry requirements for the program other than the enrolment criteria outlined by the Department which is applied for all enrolment positions offered by the school. When offering positions in the Girls Only Homegroups the following factors are taken into consideration:
- Suitability of learning styles and environment for individual student.
- Ability to demonstrate dedication to school values.
- Commitment of students to immerse in extra curriculum activities and opportunities that Girls Only Homegroups present.
Enrolment application forms are available directly from the Principal or Transition Coordinator of your child’s primary school. If you are in a Government School, you should receive these forms around April. Students from Independent or Religious schools need to contact Williamstown High School directly for an enrolment package.
You need to specify on the enrolment form whether your child would like to be in the Girls Only Homegroups.
Enquiries can be made to;
Anne Gaylor, Girls Coordinator
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 9399 9228