Lancaster head defends decision to welcome girls at boys’ grammar school

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A headteacher of a boys’ grammar school has rejected criticism over its decision to admit girls for the first time.

From September 2019 Lancaster Royal Grammar School (LRGS) will welcome sixth form girls – breaking a tradition which dates back to the 13th century.

The announcement has provoked a mixed reaction with some calling the decision “stupid” and questioning whether the move is needed.

James Brockbank said on Facebook: “When there’s Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School (who has a sixth form) is this really needed?”

Leanne Hester Bissett said on Facebook: “It does seem odd that there’s a boy and girls grammar school separately and I’m assuming that the girls’ grammar have a sixth form so why open the boys one to girls?”

Jo Shaw said: “Very bad idea.

“Girls thrive in education without boys, you only have to look at the results from LGGS to see this.”

Dr Chris Pyle, headmaster of LRGS has defended the decision which he calls a “landmark development” for the school.

“I am really keen to discourage that it is us versus the girls’ grammar school, it is not about that,” he said.

“We want our sixth form to be really attractive, to provide the best possible education there is.

“I am conscious that there are excellent sixth form facilities locally but the job for us is about being the best we can be.”

The development comes after the school secured £2.5million of government funding through the Priority Schools Building Project.

The funding will go towards building improvements to the Grade II listed Victorian Old School House which will be refurbished into new classrooms for the sixth formers starting in 2019.

Dr Pyle also refuted claims that sixth form girls would be a distraction to the boy pupils.

“I think the opposite will happen,” he said.

“They will be great role models.

“I am really looking forward to having girls who people look up to in school, girls who are prefects or mentors.

“I think it is really powerful for young men coming into school to see girls in this light.”

LRGS will remain an all boys school from years 7 to 11.

The school has 170 boarders alongside its day pupils, but there are no current plans to admit sixth form girls as boarders.

“Lancaster Royal Grammar School is characterised by its outstanding academic results, supportive pastoral care and commitment to extra-curricular opportunity,” said Mrs Gill Manklow, Chair of Governors.

“We have carried out a strategic review of the school’s priorities and we are confident that coeducation will bring significant educational and social benefits in the sixth form.

“We are pleased to be able to offer these opportunities to sixth form girls.”

Others have agreed with the development.

Emley James said on Twitter: “Of course boys and girls should be educated together, schools should reflect society.”

Glenn Milstead said: “Went to all boys’ school which admitted girls in sixth form. It was a civilising influence on us; only positive results.”