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Parallel education: what is it?
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posted on 16.02.2017by Amos, Michelle Peta
In the history of education it has long been discussed that single-sex and coeducation
are the two models of education present in schools. With the introduction of
parallel schools over the last 15 years, there has been very little research into this 'new
model'. Many people do not understand what it means for a school to be parallel or
they confuse a parallel model with co-education, due to the presence of both boys and
girls within the one institution. Therefore, the main objective of this research is to
analyse the various parallel models in Australia and the USA as a means to decipher a
definition of what parallel education is.
This study reflects a qualitative paradigm, encompassing standardised openended
interviews which allowed participants to discuss their perceptions and
experiences with parallel secondary schools. The chosen participants are key people
responsible for the development or running of such schools. As a case-study driven
research, the intention was to investigate the different structures of parallel schools, why
they were developed and how each of these structures function.
As independent schools, each school researched is at liberty to develop its own
structure of parallel education; however, the findings of this study suggest that there are
two key features that define a parallel school and a third feature that is common to most
of them. In defining a parallel school, the case-studies reveal that both a single-sex and
co-educational classroom environment alternating throughout its structure, as well as a
co-educational community, are key aspects of a parallel school. Another important
feature although it does not appear to be as critical, is the presence of one overseeing
administration and a separate girls and boys school. This study also suggests that the previous literature discussions of single-sex and co-educational advantages and disadvantages should now include parallel schools as a separate and third model. This is mainly as the research suggests this third model is able to provide both a single-sex and co-educational environment which appears to support the advantages of both single-sex and co-educational schools whilst diminishing