One of the oldest boys’ public schools in England has announced a new programme of change that will see it admit girls and day pupils for the first time in its over 600-year-old history.
Winchester College released its plan, ‘Winchester College in the 21st Century’ this week, with its governing body saying the changes will enable the school “to continue its unique approach to education, based on values which have endured for centuries”.
One of the key changes will be increased access to the school, with plans to admit each year a minimum of 30 day pupils into the sixth form (of which approx. 50% will be girls) and up to 50 girl boarders. This will take the school up from 700 to 850 pupils, which is roughly the same as Rugby and Harrow.
The school intends to welcome the new day pupils no later than September 2022, and the first female boarders in 2024.
There will also be growth in the school’s bursary provision, with the initial objective of a 25% increase, to 150 pupils by 2024.
These changes represent an exciting new phase in Winchester’s history, which will bring multiple benefits to current and future generations of Wykehamists – Sir Richard Stagg, Winchester College
On top of this will be an expansion of the school’s online learning provision for more collaboration opportunities with the maintained sector, modernisation of the curriculum with emphasis on the global context and the forces which have shaped the modern world, and more sustainable facilities.
Warden Sir Richard Stagg said: “We are determined that Winchester, which led the way when it was founded almost 640 years ago, continues to be a leader and influencer of great education on the modern global stage.
“These changes represent an exciting new phase in Winchester’s history, which will bring multiple benefits to current and future generations of Wykehamists.”
Headmaster, Dr Tim Hands, added: “Our founder, William of Wykeham, was a philanthropist and visionary who revolutionised education, and it’s his tradition of looking ahead that we seek to continue.”
Winchester is the latest to abandon the all-boys tradition – Rugby, Repton, Charterhouse, Wellington, Ampleforth, Downside have all welcomed girls in recent years. However, Harrow, Radley and Eton have kept the tradition.
However, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust, Cheryl Giovannoni, wrote in the Sunday Times that, “boys’ schools going co-ed do so to benefit boys”. “They are not aiming to give those girls the best possible girl-focused education, but for them to be a civilising influence on boys,” she said.
Giovannoni pushed for girls’ schools to keep their tradition, saying, “a girl’s education at a girls’ school may be the only time in her life that she will be in an environment designed solely to help her realise her full potential”.