Private school parents and students in the capital are either celebrating or having conniptions today after learning the Canberra Grammar School will become a co-educational school from Year 3 to Year 12.
The news means Canberra girls will be able to take the HSC from 2018, an option previously unavailable to them.
Parents can apply for places for their daughters in Years 3 and 4 in 2016 and if numbers are sufficient, those classes will be co-educational. In 2017, girls will again be included in Years 3 and 4 with applications considered for the key entrance points of Years 7 and 11 too.
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A spokesperson for Canberra Grammar said that while this meant Years 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12 would potentially remain single sex in 2017, the school would consider making those year groups co-ed too if there were sufficient numbers of girls seeking places.
The aim was to become a full co-educational school by 2020.
The Head of Canberra Grammar School, Justin Garrick, said that if the school’s aim was to educate its students as young leaders of the next generation, it needed to recognise the realities of the world they would inherit.
“The world is co-ed and will be led in virtually all fields by talented, aspirational men and women, more than has ever been the case before. It will be a world shaped by educated people of both genders who know each other’s capacities and perspectives, who are skilled in working and thinking maturely together, and who are confident in equality and professional friendship.
“This major development, which will see boys and girls together for the future, builds on forty years of co-education in the early stages of the CGS Primary School (Pre-School to Year 2) and will see the extension of co-education from Year 3 to 12, ensuring students are prepared to learn, work and flourish together in the modern world.”
Parents with young daughters were thrilled about the news, reacting on Facebook with comments like: “This has made my day! Great decision”; “Best news ever! I’m so excited about this.”; and “Good news – I wonder if this is an option if we have accepted a place at Girls [Canberra Girls Grammar School]”.
The change will be a big blow to the Canberra Girls Grammar School in the short term, as many students currently at Canberra Grammar who had been scheduled to move to the girls’ school at the end of Year 2 are likely to stay on. It will also impact on Radford College, with parents who prefer a co-educational private option now able to consider the highly regarded Inner South option.
Another parent said the decision to switch schools or stay was tied up with questions of logistics. “If you can keep both children the one campus for as long as possible, it’s an attractive convenience,” she said.
She noted that parents of boys who had chosen the school because it offered a single-sex education may not be happy with the news nor its relatively swift transition.
“It also leaves Canberra with no other single sex Anglican alternative which may perturb some families.”
Another passed on feedback from his son, a senior student who will likely finish school before the girls are phased into their age groups. He was concerned that the change was scheduled to take place too quickly.
“It’s such a different culture,” he said. “Teachers need time to learn to manage mixed classes as the dynamic is so different.”
The decision to go fully co-education was informed by “a long consideration of social and educational changes of the School’s long-term future, and of parental feedback over recent years”, according to the CGS website.