New subjects as Elizabeth College goes co-educational

NETBALL, yoga and dance will be offered to all students at Elizabeth College after the school revised some of its on- and off-curriculum activities ahead of girls joining Year 7 in September.

Elizabeth College principal Jenny Palmer. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29350122)
Elizabeth College principal Jenny Palmer. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29350122)

There have also been upgrades to some of its facilities, said principal Jenny Palmer.

The college uniform is also being extended with the introduction of a blue tartan pleated skirt, along with female-fit blazers and trousers.

Mrs Palmer said a co-ed working party was set up some 18 months ago and this has looked at all aspects of introducing girls to the school, from pastoral care to changes to the curriculum as well as practical needs such as changing room and toilet provision.

She said the school was really pleased with the level of interest from girls and their families and 17 girls will join in Year 7 this September.

‘This has comfortably exceeded our aspirations for our first year and means that we can have a viable number of girls in each tutor group,’ said Mrs Palmer.

The school already caters for girls at Sixth Form level through its partnership with Ladies’ College and it also has more than 40% female teachers.

‘We already have good provision for both male and female students,’ she said.

However, there were a few specific areas where action has been taken to prepare for girls to join the school.

As well as revising its PE and games offering to include yoga and netball, the curriculum has been reviewed to ensure that ‘it is appropriately engaging and stimulating for all our students, recognising all students’ needs and abilities’.

As an example, Mrs Palmer said English lessons would be sure to offer a good balance of texts from different perspectives, and wellbeing lessons will be made inclusive for boys and girls and separate when necessary.

Dance has been added as a curriculum subject with a view to offering it at GCSE level.

On a more practical level, toilet and changing room facilities have been checked and updated where needed, and this has included a full upgrade of both the male and female changing rooms in the sports hall.

The extra-curricular programme already has more than 90 activities and sports and this has recently seen options such as dance, vinyl appreciation and futsal (a form of five-a-side football) added.

‘We expect the offer to broaden further, informed by student choice and staff interests and abilities,’ said Mrs Palmer. All of the options are available to both boys and girls.

Helping the girls as they enter the school will be the female Sixth Form students and Mrs Palmer said they will provide mentoring and act as positive role models to the new students.

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