Whitehorse school ends single-gender class experiment

Takhini Elementary School is going back to mixed-gender classes after a five-year pilot project experimented with single-gender classes.
Takhini Elementary School in Whitehorse is ending a pilot project that tried out all-girl and all-boy classrooms. (Dave Croft/CBC)

An elementary school in Whitehorse is ending its single-gender classes.

For the past five years, a pilot project at Takhini Elementary School allowed boys and girls to be taught in separate classrooms.

One of the co-chairs of the school council and a parent, Alice Hartling, said the classes were intended to improve behavior.

"I think the idea was to look at some opportunities. With boys — bring them together in a classroom where they can be moving around a little more, and where girls — they don't mind sitting and those kinds of things. And let them do what is more natural," Hartling said.

The project received mixed reactions from parents and students.

Takini’s principal, Katrina Brogdon, said there were a lot of differences among the students’ preferences.

"With any group of people, there's variation. For example, we've had lots of conversations with students this year, who say 'yes we do like aspects of being in the girls' class'," Brogdon said.

"But at the same time, 'there are lots of things that we would like to be doing as mixed-gender classes, and we do like doing the same things that the boys do', and so on and so forth," she said.

Brogdon added the classes did not improve students' behaviour.

She said another factor in ending single-gender classes was the school population. Takhini Elementary has only 145 students.

To continue single-gender classes, the school would have needed to combine grades and there would have been significant differences in class sizes.

The school will return to mixed classes in August.