Horsham boys’ school can turn coeducational from next year
A boys-only school in Horsham has been given the go-ahead to turn coeducational from next September.
According to West Sussex County Council demand for places at single-sex boys’ schools in the county has been declining in recent years, evidenced by a falling number of families applying for boys’ schools as first preferences.
As a result Horsham’s Forest School and St Andrew’s CE High School for Boys in Worthing have been looking at becoming coeducational and accepting girls from September 2021.
A consultation was held in June and Nigel Jupp, the county council’s cabinet member for education and skills has supported the changes at both secondary schools.
Mr Jupp said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part in the public consultation and helped me make an informed decision. This positive change would give a greater choice to female pupils in both Worthing and Horsham when they decide where they want to go to secondary school.
“The Forest School and St Andrew’s becoming coeducational fits into our school effectiveness strategy’s aims to achieve high performing and financially sustainable schools in West Sussex that benefit the children and communities for years to come.”
This would mean each new Year 7 group would be coeducational, with no changes proposed to existing year groups already on the roll.
There are no changes proposed at either Horsham’s Millais School or Davison CE High School for Girls in Worthing.
According to an officers’ report: “Whilst there is mixed evidence about the progress of boys in single-sex schools compared to co-educational schools, the teaching professionals and governing bodies in both schools recognise many benefits of the schools becoming co-educational and see this as an opportunity to further improve provision and to drive standards higher.
“The two boys’ schools are the only ones remaining in West Sussex as Chichester High School for Boys and Chichester High School for Girls merged several years ago to create a coeducational school due to the limited popularity of the single-sex boys’ school.”
A total of 638 responses were received in response to the consultation for The Forest School.
Of these 69 per cent supported the plans, 26 per cent were against and the remaining five per cent uncertain.
Many in favour referred to the high-quality pastoral care available also benefiting girls, a belief that boys would develop better in coeducational schools and these better reflect modern society and would be beneficial for educational and social reasons.
Those against felt there was a need for a boys-only school in the town and expressed uncertainty about how it would work if Millais remained a girls’ school.
Meanwhile at St Andrew’s, 611 responses were received, with 53 per cent in support, 39 per cent against and eight per cent uncertain.
Those in favour mentioned the educational outcome for boys improving if girls were admitted, while some thought single-sex schools were seen as ‘outdated’.
Respondents against suggested discipline is more beneficial to male pupils in a single-sex school, such schools provide an education specific to boys and what interests them most and that proposals would not be fair unless the girls’ schools also become coeducational.
A four-week period of representation will now take place.
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