Parallel education: what is it?

2017-02-16T02:23:25Z (GMT) by 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 the disadvantages.