One School, Two Choices by Chris Stock

///One School, Two Choices by Chris Stock

Boys and girls can do well in any setting – the most important factor in student success is home influence.

Emmanuel College provides the options of a co-educational and boys’ campus. Parents vary in their views regarding the importance of a specific gender provision. For those who have a preferred style the options are available within our regional precinct. Regardless of setting, we recognise the importance of gender issues in the education of the whole person, aimed at the full development of each student.

Prior to the establishment of the College in 2007, a comprehensive survey was conducted of parents in the region regarding the essential features of a Catholic secondary school. When parent feedback was ranked the essential features identified were, in order:

  • Quality of education
  • Quality of teaching
  • Care of students
  • Academic reputation
  • School discipline
  • Moral / values development
  • Facilities and equipment
  • Breadth of curriculum
  • Catering for individual needs
  • Communication with parents
  • School values / principles / vision

It is interesting that, although some parents regarded the gender setting of the school as important, it was not ranked in the top ten. Location and ease of access to the College can also be an important consideration.

In discussing different settings, it is important not to generalise. Boys and girls can do well in any setting – the most important factor in student success is home influence. However, what we sometimes find in a co-educational setting is girls taking the initiative to shine while the boys sit back. For example, a predominance of girls can be found in areas such as debating, leadership and involvement in drama, music and movement performances. Boys involvement in music ensembles can sometimes revolve around the percussion area. A boys’ setting can provide an important opportunity for boys to be themselves and take on the full range of opportunities both in the academic and co-curricula areas. The tendency for boys to buy into the `cool to be a fool’ syndrome can also operate, given girls’ commitment to doing their best in their studies. The boys’ campus removes the impetus towards this attitude in the pursuit of excellence in personal best achievement.

We also find that girls perform impressively in a co-educational environment, excelling both academically and in co-curricular opportunities. They are keen to take on leadership roles, display initiative and get involved. As we have witnessed in the broader society, girls see no barriers with regard to their interests and the success which they pursue. At Emmanuel we have girls achieving sporting excellence at the international level, gifted academics, outstanding performers in the arts and impressive leaders.

Striving to cater for the individual in student learning is important given there is as much diversity in the educational needs and preferences of students within a gender as there is between genders. Gender stereotypes constrain males and females into fixed categories – men are tough, assertive and do not show `soft’ emotions; women are gentle, nurturing and emotionally expressive.

Within the Catholic ethos of Emmanuel College such gender stereotyping is rejected. The job of every Catholic College is to support the young women and men in its care on their journey of growth and learning to full maturation. The alternatives of co-education and boys’ settings provide a range of opportunities for the richness of this journey.

Chris Stock Principal at Emmanuel CollegePrincipal Chris Stock has worked in boys’, girls’ and co-educational Catholic schools in Melbourne after being based in Catholic country schools early in his career.

Over this time he held a number of leadership positions,including Deputy Principal and is currently the Principal of Emmanuel College.

Emmanuel College is in the rather unique position of offering both a parallel model via a single-sex boys’ campuscoupled with a newly formed co-educational campus.