Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Young women’s reflections on attending a private girls’ school

Jephcote, Lisa 2022. Young women’s reflections on attending a private girls’ school. EdD Thesis, Cardiff University.
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of 1474086 Lisa Jephcote - final submission.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (1MB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form] PDF (Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form) - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (141kB)


The aim of this thesis is to contribute to debates on the merits, or otherwise, of single sex education through exploring the experience of attending a private girls’ school from the perspective of recent alumnae. In this study, 50 alumnae aged 23-28 years were surveyed, and 10 interviewed, reflecting on their experience of school and early career progression. The alumnae all progressed to higher education, entering elite institutions, broadly in line with the private sector as a whole, reflecting a ‘premium’ in terms of access to elite universities and professional careers. It is difficult to determine the extent to which their progress is attributable to their social background rather than the school. However, the alumnae reported high levels of confidence they believed to have developed through school and continuing through their early careers. They reported a high degree of engagement with school activities, suggesting identification with the school and making much of the opportunities available. They also reflected on the quality of friendships, the support from teachers, as well as difficulties with cliques. Finally, many reported the freedom to ‘be themselves’, and not conform to traditional gender stereotypes. These elements underpin the confidence the alumnae believe was developed in school. A sense of ‘fitting in’ at school is associated with school engagement and can enhance confidence. The quality of friendships and being part of a friendship group appears to be an important, and arguably unique, feature of girls’ schools. Confidence is enhanced through group membership; thus, friendships are important for the development of confidence. The experience of gender stereotyping can reduce girls’ confidence, whilst its reduction can help build confidence. Expectations of heteronormative femininity may be reduced, and girls have greater freedom to ‘be themselves’ and speak up. This study contributes to the wider literature by broadening our understanding of the sector and offers a particular perspective on the wider role of engendering confidence in education. The thesis concludes by discussing how some of the positive aspects of the school, reported by the alumnae might be incorporated into less socially and academically selective environments.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 March 2023
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2023 10:45

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics