Girls to be admitted at Norwich School
STEPHEN PULLINGER More than 900 years of history will be swept away next year when girls join the boys throughout Norfolk's oldest school for the first time, it can be revealed.
More than 900 years of history will be swept away next year when girls join the boys throughout Norfolk's oldest school for the first time, it can be revealed.
As forecast in the EDP last week, Norwich School has agreed to take girls from age 11 from September 2008 -
and from age seven a year later.
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The school, which counts Admiral Lord Nelson as its most famous former pupil, made its first break with centuries of tradition in 1994 when girls joined boys in the sixth form.
But the latest decision means the school, which traces its roots back to monastic times in the 11th century, will soon be completely co-educational.
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Headmaster Jim Hawkins admitted there were some people who were uncomfortable with the governors' decision to sever one of the core traditions of the school.
But he said: "We are convinced it's absolutely the right thing for the school."
Two of the current upper sixth students were firmly behind the move.
Rosie Wood, 18, of Norwich, said: "I think it's a fantastic idea because I've had a great year here. I think boys and girls have very different ideas about things. If you take out one of the sexes you miss out on a lot of ideas."
Amelia Thompson, 17, from Diss, said: "I'm really excited by it. It's a shame to restrict such a good education to just boys. It's a great opportunity for everybody. And it's a great location."
The school will eventually expand from 840 to 1,000 pupils, with staff forecasting a ratio of 65pc boys and 35pc girls within a few years.
To accommodate the extra pupils, new buildings will be taken on and developed on the school site, with many of the classrooms being expanded.
Mr Hawkins said a key factor in the decision was the demand from parents to send their children to Norwich School, regardless of their sex.
He said: "In addition to our academic focus, we offer a broad and varied education here with lots of games, cultural and extra-curricular activities.
"That, combined with our unique setting, makes the Norwich School experience very distinctive. For some time it has been felt that we needed to make this sort of education available to boys and girls from age seven upwards - and to become more of a family school to accommodate people with both sons and daughters."
The move, which means Norfolk will not have a boys-only school from next year, is a further diminution of single-sex education, which has been in decline in the county since grammar schools were swept aside more than 30 years
Last week, Hethersett Old Hall School announced it would allow boys into its junior section for seven-11-year-olds for the first time from next September - extending the decision eight years ago to mix from four to seven.
Next year, only Norwich School for Girls and Thorpe House School in Norwich will remain in the county as girls-only establishments.
Anyone interested in Norwich School's decision to go co-educational can attend the school's open day throughout the morning of September 22.