SINGLE-SEX classrooms should be introduced in schools to prevent boys harming the educational progress of girls by “pestering” them, a Scottish Borders councillor has controversially suggested.

Hawick and Denholm Conservative councillor Neil Richards believes girls academic attainment levels would rise without the distraction of boys beside them.

He expressed his view during a debate on the benefits of composite classes – made up of pupils from multiple consecutive year groups – during a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s education sub-committee on Tuesday, January 23.

He said: “Why not go the whole hog and have girls classes and boys classes because it is obvious that girls do better when they are not being pestered by young boys.

READ MORE: Scottish council accused of 'holding funds' after leisure centres saved

“It’s controversial, I know, but I believe that girls do better when they are in their own environment. Boys, well, they are notoriously dull for a long time.”

In response, Lesley Munro, SBC’s service director for Young People Engagement and Inclusion, disagreed, saying: “Every child is an individual and every young person’s needs are individual. There are all-girls, all-boys schools in the private sector and I’m sure there will be benefits and downsides.

"But certainly our judgement and experience would be that a mixture of age or gender or interest is always a good thing for children."

The National: School girls walking to school

Councillor Richards, first elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2022, controversial view also failed to generate support from fellow elected members.

Conservative representative for Mid-Berwickshire councillor John Greenwell said: “I totally disagree with that because having two grandchildren, a boy and a girl, and they’re roughly the same age, there is a bit of competitiveness there.

"The boy wants to do better than the girl and the girl wants to do better than the boy. Getting that dynamic in a classroom I imagine would be quite challenging for the teacher to keep control of it but also very good for the pupils.”

Jedburgh and District Conservative councillor Sandy Scott added: “I totally disagree with Councillor Richards because I grew up in an all-boys household and I went to an all-boys school and as a result when I came out of school I knew nothing about girls – and my wife tells me I still don’t. If I’d gone to a co-ed school perhaps I could have fixed that.”