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Understanding Boys: The Research

As an independent boys school known for our focus on character development, it has always been our goal to create a rich environment where boys can succeed both academically and as individuals. Our practice at SHS is based on extensive research in boy-specific learning and development. This is an area that we passionately contribute to through our participation in various national and international coalitions and organizations. 

Sterling Hall has been a long-time and active member of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC), a non-profit organization of worldwide schools dedicated to the education and development of boys. In fact, over the years, SHS has played an active role in this organization; currently, our very own Rick Parsons is one of only two sitting Canadian Principals on the IBSC Board of Trustees. Today, IBSC member schools such as ours, make up the current roster of nearly 300 member schools from more than 20 countries and five continents. Acting as a Trustee, Rick Parsons works closely with IBSC sharing knowledge and collaborating with others to champion boys’ education. We are very proud to have this affiliation and to play a role in such an important endeavor.

IBSC's 'Better Boys, Better Men' ONLine Series HOSTED BY SHS

On May 4 and May 12, The Sterling Hall School co-hosted the Better Boys, Better Men online series for the IBSC global community. Thank you to Principal Rick Parson's for introducing this impactful leader in the field of boy research to ISBC, enabling educators and parents the opportunity to learn much from his expertise. 

Based on his extensive research and work on masculinity, Andrew Reiner facilitated two interactive workshops focused on the development of a new masculinity. In these sessions, he discussed how boys are growing up in a world that's radically different from the one their parents knew. Success today both in and beyond the classroom requires self-awareness, self-restraint, empathy, curiosity, collaboration, and communication skills. Many parents, teachers, and coaches however, are still raising, teaching, and mentoring boys in ways familiar to previous generations: The old masculine script however, isn't preparing boys for a new world. Andrew Reiner challenged IBSC members to examine and reconsider ways to equip boys with the tools they need to develop good life strategies and build meaningful connections.

If you would like to learn more about Andrew Reiner's research please click HERE


Through our active participation in IBSC, we have gathered meaningful research on how boys learn, how to foster academic and personal growth in boys, how to address individual boys' needs and how to improve student outcomes. The below content is relevant research from IBSC that has, and continues to informed our practice. Member schools across the globe including our own, have presented this research so that all can benefit. The character-based inquiry project Genius Time, is one such paper that we are proud to say SHS teacher Kate Cowan, presented to the IBSC international community.

The Benefits of a Boys School

Below please find some research from IBSC that delves into why a school like Sterling Hall is an ideal environment for boys.

In engaging and supportive single-sex environments, students explore their values and establish a foundation for making responsible decisions; they explore their own definitions of self, who they are and who they want to become; they learn to forge healthy relationships; they step out of their comfort zone to explore their full potential.

Additional IBSC Research on Boys

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Recent research suggests that the highest performing boys consistently cite two aspects as drivers of boys’ personal achievement: a sense of belonging within a positive school culture and explicit understanding of character expectations. Both of these are aspects we at SHS strived to incorporate in our practice.

Rick Parsons, Principal, 
IBSC Board of Trustees