Last state-funded girls’ school will admit boys

Scotland's last remaining girls-only state school, Notre Dame High in Glasgow, will admit boys from August 2021

Emma Seith

The last state-funded girls’ school in Scotland, Notre Dame High in Glasgow, is to admit boys

Scotland’s last remaining state-funded girls’ school will start admitting boys in August 2021, it has been decided.

At a meeting this morning Glasgow’s City Administration Committee unanimously voted to follow the advice of education officers and remove the 120-year-old school’s girls-only status.

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”.  

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

Related: 54% want last all-girls state school to stay single-sex

Long read: The all-girls school under pressure to mix things up

The decision follows a public consultation launched in February this year.

Figures from the public consultation showed that parents, pupils and teachers were split over whether or not the school should start admitting boys, with campaign groups on either side of the argument claiming that the results supported their stance.

Maureen McKenna, executive director of education for Glasgow City Council, said: “There has been much debate on the changes to the entry criteria for Notre Dame High School with strong arguments being put forward  – both during the pre-engagement and the consultation process.

The debate over single-sex school

“Now that the decision has been made by elected members, education officers will start to develop transition plans and will engage with school and parent representatives from all the associated primary schools and secondary schools affected by changes.

“There’s not only the physical aspects that need to be considered but we also need to be sensitive and recognise that this represents a significant change for the school and local community.

“I am confident that Notre Dame High School will continue to provide an excellent education to the young people of Glasgow and their families.”

The consultation document on the future of the school showed 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.

Tes Scotland visited Notre Dame High in 2017 and found that while some girls lived 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 student 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.

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

The consultation document said the current school roll included “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 could not attend the school closest to their home and that brothers and sisters faced being split up when they went to secondary.

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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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