With an innovative take on a school moving from single-sex to co-education, Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire is to accept boys into their senior school in September 2019 for the first time in its 90 year history, having always been an all-girls’ school.
So how did this unusual move come about?
Headmistress Natasha Dangerfield says, ‘Opening the senior school to boys is a natural progression for our successful co-educational prep school and there is already a strong demand for senior places, not only from parents of Westonbirt Prep boys, but also from the wider local community and from fellow Wishford schools.’
‘The abundance of outdoor space for sports at Westonbirt and strong extra-curricular programme, well supports a holistic approach to education which benefits all students, regardless of gender.’
For each student at Westonbirt, it is the passion and commitment from teaching staff that ensures the learning environment is rich and fuelled with an expectation that each student fulfils their potential. ‘Value added’ is an important metric for us and many will achieve beyond expectation. After 90 years of excellent education at Westonbirt, we look forward to the next 90 years of coeducation!’
In May of this year, Westonbirt celebrated the school’s 90th birthday and, at the same time, joined the Wishford Schools Group, a growing group of independent prep schools to which Westonbirt School was the first senior school to enter the group. This move provided new investment and a renewed interest in moving the school to a co-educational model. The ground-breaking change was announced shortly afterwards and the school is now readying itself for the incoming boys in 2019.
Lucy Brook, Director of Marketing for Westonbirt, explains there has been no shortage of demand for day places for senior boys and the school’s initial targets look set to be exceeded.
‘The geographical area in which Westonbirt Schools sit mean there are very few other independent co-ed senior schools sitting within the Swindon-Bath-Gloucester triangle, most other schools are located within one of those towns but there is little in-between them and an hour or more journey every day is not for everyone.’
Educationally, the move looks set to cement the excellent work already done in Westonbirt Prep school which is already fully co-ed and shares the same site as the senior school. It therefore made a lot of sense for the boys in the prep school to be able to continue through and for other boys and girls within the Wishford Prep schools to be able to join Westonbirt senior school, along with students from other local prep and primary schools.
With many boys joining the year seven entry testing at Westonbirt for Wishford Schools today and more registered for entry tests in January; the first coed cohort promises to be one of the school’s biggest intakes yet.
READ MORE: Is Single-Sex Education Effective?