College must be mixed in every sense

THE transformation of secondary education in the island continues apace.

Who would have predicted at the start of the last decade the demise of the Grammar School, the closure of La Mare High and, after hundreds of years, Elizabeth College going fully co-educational?

It is another large rock thrown into a small pond.

What effect will it have on the private school sector?

The Ladies’ College and Elizabeth College have worked together at sixth form level for 20 years but the latter becoming co-educational all the way from Acorn House, through Beechwood Junior School and on to the senior school is a bold step that has implications across the sector.

The boys and girls of Elizabeth College will not care about all that. They will each see it from their own perspective and reflect instead on a new atmosphere for their day-to-day schooling.

For sixth formers it will be business as usual, as it will be for those who have come through Beechwood and can now continue with their classmates.

After just a few years no pupil at Elizabeth College will know any different and mixed education in a boys’ school first set up in 1563 will be an established fact of life.

The change may take longer to settle in for some old boys. It is not always easy to accept that institutions move on and it is not the place you once knew.

It is important that this is not about money. To change centuries of tradition just because the States grant is being cut and will eventually be phased out would be a poor motivation.

Instead, the principal assures parents that the move is for sound education reasons.

Elizabeth College has seen the ‘clear social, cultural and academic advantages stemming from girls and boys working together in and outside of the classroom’.

Not many former pupils will feel disadvantaged by an education at Elizabeth College. It is schooling that comes with many privileges and breaks, some of which persist through life.

Opening up those opportunities to both sexes is only right.

The next important step will be to ensure they are also offered to as many pupils as possible from poorer backgrounds.

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