Future of last girls-only Scottish state school hangs in the balance

Council document shows that £750K of alterations will be needed if Scotland's last girls-only school is to admit boys

Emma Seith

Consultation opens on last girls-only state school

Girls' school Notre Dame High in Glasgow was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1897 and is the last remaining state-run girls' school in Scotland.

However, the school’s single-sex status is once again hanging in the balance as a consultation opens today on whether boys should be admitted.

The options on the table are to retain the status quo, keep the school as single-sex but change the catchment area from which pupils are drawn, or make the school co-educational and change the catchment area.

The consultation document shows that £750,000 of alterations would be required to ensure that appropriate toilet and changing facilities were available within Notre Dame High if it became co-educational.

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If the decision is taken to make the school co-educational, boys will initially be admitted only into the first year of secondary, S1. Boys in older year groups will not be able to transfer to Notre Dame from other schools to “enable a five-year period of transition before the school became fully co-educational”.  

A council spokeswoman said: “The consultation is the ideal opportunity for all interested parties to make their views known as part of the consultation process.

“Public meetings are being held during April and May and we would urge people to come along and hear about the proposals and from the various campaign groups before submitting responses by the 26 May.”

Tes Scotland visited Notre Dame High in 2017 and found that while some girls were within walking distance of the school, others were based in other education authorities and put in placing requests so they could attend.

At the time, the school did not record the religion of its pupils, but 28 per cent of the girls at Notre Dame reported their ethnic background as Asian Pakistani. One Muslim pupil commented that the school allowed her to gain an education without socialising and mixing with the opposite sex, which was in line with her religion.

There is just one Muslim school in Scotland – a private school in Glasgow.

The latest information on the school shows it has the capacity for 800 pupils, with a roll of around 717.

The consultation document says the current school roll includes “a significant number” of placing requests from over 50 primary schools.

It added: “Should the school remain all-girls, then parents and carers would continue to have the choice of educational pathways for their daughter/s. At present, over 500 families from across the city have opted, via submitting placing requests, for single-gender education.”

However, local parents have spoken in the past about their frustration that boys cannot attend the school.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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