Reflections on our co-ed Sixth Form
The introduction of our coeducational Sixth Form this year has felt surprisingly, decidedly normal!
One reason for the change was simply to allow girls as well as boys to benefit from an LRGS education.
Life isn’t single sex, and a second motivation was social and educational. A mixed Sixth Form prepares students for university and life ahead. A greater diversity of viewpoints in our classrooms benefits all students. And girls in positions of responsibility are excellent role models for the wider school.
And thirdly, modest growth in Sixth Form numbers will sustain our curricular and extra-curricular breadth. Funding is under pressure, but our ambition is always to offer the fullest range of arts, languages, humanities and science A-levels – and of opportunities beyond the classroom too.
For everything to stay the same, everything must change, wrote Lampedusa.
Or perhaps not everything! Today’s pioneers are not the first female pupils in our school’s long history. At least one former Headmaster admitted his own daughters as pupils, and girls were taught alongside boys in the early nineteenth century. Sir Edward Frankland, later a distinguished chemist, wrote about his experience at that time: “Far from there having been any disadvantage arising out of this mixture of the sexes, there was a decided benefit.”
We prepared carefully to ensure that "decided benefit" for today’s pupils, including school visits, student focus groups, and pastoral training. We found that our staff expertise spanned every type of school: LRGS teachers have taught in single sex, co-ed and diamond schools (i.e. single sex from 11-16), in single sex classes in mixed schools, and worked in both girls’ and boys’ boarding.
There has been a very positive impact on the wider school community. One former pupil wrote: “What a great pleasure it is, 65 years after leaving LRGS, to be able to say: ‘This is my school’s netball team.’ The girls' presence can only further enhance an already excellent school.”
More than 30 girls from 16 schools joined this year, and it is excellent to see them thrive and make their mark in the Lower Sixth. Well done to them! We are also very much looking forward to welcoming our first Sixth Form girls as boarders in September.