“A boys’ school by conviction, Clifton provides an educational environment that is designed to facilitate learning and assist in developing young men of character who share an uncompromising belief in the power of family values.”
(Knowles D, 2021).

Furthermore, our construct supports our Mission Statement which states: “At Clifton, we encourage each boy to achieve his full potential in every area of school life. Our boys thrive on competition, celebrate participation, delight in discovery, exercise compassion, are courageous in their choices and live in humility.”

It is by unpacking these statements and carefully considering the associated qualitative and scientific research that we are able to endorse the benefits of our boys’ school construct and the significance of an holistic education.

Benefits of a boys’ school in the 21st Century

We must first acknowledge that each child is a masterpiece with unique traits and that the stereotypical gender mould may not fit every child. However, scientific evidence clearly documents the many biological gender differences that influence learning. The book “Boys and Girls Learn differently!” by M Gurian offers input on brain-based research, how boys’ and girls’ minds are different and includes work done on developmental, structural, chemical, hormonal, functional and processing differences.

In order to understand the benefits of a boys’ school environment, we need to acknowledge some very basic differences supported by neuroscientific data. Some examples: Girls tend to have superior vocabularies, are better readers and have better fine motor skills whereas boys have a better auditory memory, are better at three

dimensional reasoning, are bold in exploration and they achieve a greater abstract design ability after puberty.

Boys and girls develop at different rates, which, in a school system where chronological age determines the level of educational experience that a child will experience rather than their individual learning readiness, the benefit of a single-sex education provides part of the solution to this dilemma.

The boys’ school construct, therefore, allows for a focussed programme in terms of teaching and learning, leadership, sports, arts and service. Social pressures are reduced which promotes confidence-building. Boys become comfortable with non-traditional subjects and activities such as choir and orchestra which many may otherwise shy away from in a co-ed environment. There is more opportunity to educate boys on traditional stereotypes and move them to a more thoughtful approach. The transition from childhood to adulthood can be effectively managed together with the awkwardness of the teenage years. Other distractions such as romantic relationships and sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are reduced.

So in a boys school, he has the freedom to be himself, enjoy a focused educational plan and grow and mature at a similar rate to his peers.

“Do not train boys to learn by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds.”
– Plato



A brief description of Holistic Education

There are many theories and discussion papers on Holistic Education and the views and interpretations slightly differ.

Generally, holistic education aims to develop the individual to function effectively, responsibly, successfully and compassionately in our world. So our focus at Clifton to develop young men of character is designed through the pillars of Scholarship, Leadership, Sportsmanship and Community.

A paper presented by the International Baccalaureate in 2010 describes holistic education as follows:

Holistic education focuses on developing the individual’s intellect, emotional wellbeing, social and physical potentials as well as their aesthetic and spiritual potential. The importance of relationships, community and an understanding of the world we live in are all seen as vital in the educational programme.

It is best described as a group of beliefs, feelings, principles, and general ideas that share a family resemblance (Forbes 2003).
As mentioned in a previous Clifton Calling article, we are living in a Conceptual Age where knowledge is available, instantly. So, the focus of school must be that of skills acquisition and character building.

An article from a journal called ‘The Circle’ offers this description: “Character is the way we live life. Do we belong?
Are we fulfilling our potential? Are we doing what is good and right?

When we educate, when we teach, when we take kids on The Pathway to Excellence, fulfilling their individual potential, we are forming human beings.

School is, therefore, by necessity a whole education for a whole person. Academics, co-curricular, pastoral care, the life of the community – all of these are important. Yet none of them defines and shapes character and competency individually.

It is the holistic experience of growth that equips our boys for the world.”

Finally, I end this article with how I started:

“A boys’ school by conviction, Clifton provides an educational environment that is designed to facilitate learning and assist in developing young men of character who share an uncompromising belief in the power of family values.”
(Knowles D, 2021).