A school where both boys and girls study is called co-ed (co-education) What is the name for the school where only males study? (Calling it a male school seems a bit awkward)


6 Answers 6


In the UK, such schools are called boys' schools.

St James Senior Boys’ School in Ashford, TW15, offers a distinctive philosophical education ...

[St James Senior Boys' School]

It's also possible to describe such as a school as an all-boys school, but Brits are just as likely to say "boys' school":

Rupert's at an all-boys school — St James Boys' School in Ashford.
Horatio is at a certain boys' school in Harrow.

Using all-boys emphasises the nature of the school as a single-sex school over the simple adjective boys'.

  • So in this respect a school filled with girls would be called all-girls school? There arent any specific word for these kind? Jul 22, 2014 at 16:17
  • Yes: exactly the same applies to girls' school and all-girls school.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 22, 2014 at 16:21
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    This is the best answer. Shwetabh Shekhar, people don't usually use the wording with all. They usually just use boys' schools or girls' schools.
    – Tristan r
    Jul 22, 2014 at 17:40
  • Even in an all-sex school, sometimes only the girls study. :)
    – tchrist
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:27

A school for boys is a boys' school and one for girls is a girls' school, although the trend in the language, as noted in the answers to “Boys bicycle” vs. “boy's bicycle” and User’s/Users’/Users Group and others, is to drop the apostrophe; thus boys school and girls school are increasingly common.

As coeducation is the norm for most people in most English-speaking countries, the meaning of school for boys or school for girls is also clear, though at least in North America, it would be more common to describe such an institution as an all-boys school (or all-girls school).


The term for the practice of teaching the two genders separetly, regardless of the gender we might be talking about is:

Single-Sex Education or Single-Gender Education or Single-Sec Schooling. Source: wiki

For specific institution catering to one specific gender-

The Boarding School Review uses the terms All-Boys and All-Girls to refer to as the Student Body type for single-sex institutions, here.

Using the search function above, the websites of single-sex institutions shows that the websites themselves rarely use a term for that aspect of their student body - either there's no explicit mention of the school being all-boys outside of admission qualifications, or terms like "Educating Young Men since..." etc are used.

The wikipedia category for these schools in the US is simply "Boys' Schools" (the all does seem a bit redundant), and the articles themselves use a mix of All-Boys or Boys' Schools as terminology.


  • Archbishop Riordan High School is an ... all-boys Catholic high school.. in San Francisco.
  • Newington College is a ... day and boarding school for boys... in Australia
  • Ardscoil Rís is a boys' secondary school in ... Dublin, Ireland
  • Catholic High School (traditional Chinese: 公敎中學) ... is an all-boys Catholic school in Singapore.
  • Nyeri High School', also known as Nyeri High, is a boys' boarding school ... in Nyeri, Kenya.

Many schools for single-sex or single-gender education do not include "for Boys" or "for Girls" in their name. Some examples include:

This Wikipedia article references the single-sex or single-gender terminology in describing such schools.


First, note that single-sex schools are waning in the UK. In 1966, there were 2,500; in 2006, there were just 400. There's public debate at the moment because some (mainly immigrant) minority communities approve of segregation, but mainstream society and the legislature are pushing hard "to open" established single-sex schools and up prevent new ones being set up.

So in most contexts in the UK today, any reference to a segregated school (by sex, religion, race) is likely to be somewhat pejorative/disparaging. But 50 years ago when I went to the local State-run boys' school (which was just down the road from the affiliated girls' school), those were perfectly normal ways to refer to what were at the time perfectly normal schools. Today it simply wouldn't be possible to use either term without risking unwanted connotations being perceived.

  • I'm not clear why you say it 'would not be possible to use either term without risking unwanted connotations being perceived'. My own children (now in their thirties) went to two of the remaining grammar schools, both of which were state-run - one a 'boys' school' and one a 'girls' school'. The schools concerned remain single-sex today. What, in your view, should they be called?
    – WS2
    Jul 22, 2014 at 17:01
  • @WS2: Like I said, mine was a boy's school back in the day, and that carried no significant connotations beyond the literal meaning. But it's not surprising to me that your kids went to single-sex grammar schools. Even a couple of decades ago there were very few "mainstream" single-sex schools left - by the present day, if you say your daughter goes to a girls' school people are likely to make assumptions (you went to some trouble to get her into a single-sex school, either for cultural / religious reasons or some "indirectly academic" reason such as local girls' grammar school). Jul 22, 2014 at 17:17
  • The only form of grammar school education available in the town where we live, both twenty years ago and now, is single-sex. We, as parents went to no particular 'trouble' to get our children in, other than drive them to the place where the examination was held. And we did not especially favour grammar-school education. It was simply that it was there! A girl we fostered, went to a single-sex comprehensive. It remains today as does the single-sex boys' affiliated school. And those two comprehensives record stunning performance results, albeit admittedly in a well-to-do middle class area.
    – WS2
    Jul 22, 2014 at 17:27
  • @WS2: That was partly why I specifically said unwanted connotations. It might well be that in your specific case the kids went to those schools "because they were there", and the fact of them being single-sex establishments was incidental. But as the years roll by it becomes increasingly less likely that there would be no "backstory" to the statement "Our daughter attends the local girls' school". Incidentally, my daughter (now in her twenties) attended her local grammar school, but it stopped being single-sex decades ago. Jul 22, 2014 at 17:46
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    If single-sex schools are waning, does that mean that bisexual schools are waxing? Or did you just leave out a k? :)
    – tchrist
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:32

Seminary had, until about 1900, a meaning of school for boys. The equivalent for girls, as the three little maids told us, was a ladies seminary.

  • Could you please some documentation for that? I haven’t found any references for it. Thanks.
    – tchrist
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:39

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