A preparatory school in Dorset has announced it will “move progressively” towards co-education on the eve of its 70th anniversary.
Knighton House School announced it was admitting boys after a survey of parents revealed “strong demand” for the school to move towards a co-educational intake.
The all-girls prep school, which sits in a 35-acre campus near Durweston, will begin admitting boys as day pupils up to year six. This will be extended to years seven and eight from September 2021; a planned refurbishment of the school’s boarding accommodation will allow Knighton House to function as a fully co-educational boarding prep school from September 2022.
To coincide with its anniversary year, the school has also launched its Knighton House 70 appeal to raise funds for new scholarships for pupils from the local area.
It was also announced that neighbouring Bryanston School, a co-educational independent school for pupils aged 13 to 18, has bought the land and buildings of the Knighton House campus, which were until recently leased from the Crown Estate.
The decision will “have no impact on the management, operation and autonomy of Knighton House School,” the school said, but “will increase the potential for both schools to share facilities and resources for the benefit of all pupils”.
“This is a hugely exciting time for everyone connected with the school as we start our 70th anniversary celebrations,” said Knighton House headmaster, Robin Gainher.
“The announcements we are making today demonstrate our passion for delivering truly inspirational education for all pupils and our clear commitment to build on our strengths and reputation for forward-thinking.
“Increasing access and progressively welcoming boys to the school signals an important step in our evolution while maintaining our long-established agenda of empowerment and confidence for girls. A new and dynamic co-educational setting beckons and we can’t wait to get started!”
Mark Mortimer, Bryanston’s headmaster, said the acquisition of the campus “represents a sound and logical investment” that strengthens the integrity of the school’s grounds and the ability of both schools to share facilities and expertise in the years ahead.
“Although Bryanston is simply a new landlord for Knighton House, the benefits from greater sharing of resources and closer cooperation will cover both academic and co-curricular activities and will provide new opportunities to enrich the educational experience of pupils,” he said.
“We’re delighted such a positive and forward-looking development has occurred at a time when Knighton House has every reason to celebrate its tremendous achievements over the past seven decades.”