Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to your questions about the transition of Monmouth Boys’ and Monmouth Girls’ Schools in the sections below. If you have questions to which you cannot find the answer, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The move to co-education for pupils in Years 7 to 11 is the next chapter in Monmouth Schools’ centuries-long history. It provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve educational outcomes and create an exciting, new learning environment while preserving this beautiful and historic setting.
Why has the school decided to make these changes?
Monmouth School was founded in 1614 in a single school room and its family of schools now educates around 1200 pupils on four sites. Teaching methods, subjects and pastoral care have continued to change and, like all good schools, we evolve to reflect the changing requirements of society.
Our current structure, with teaching for Years 7 – 11 on two sites, is inefficient and requires us to duplicate teaching, facilities and activities. Moving to a fully co-educational school reduces that waste and future fee increases will be lower than if we continue as we are.
Over the last few decades there has been a move within the sector to co-education. Of the 1,388 schools in England and Wales who are members of the Independent Schools Council, 1,118 are co-educational. There are now just 160 all-girls schools and 110 all-boys schools; down 39% and 25% respectively compared with 25 years ago. In our recently commissioned survey, the majority of parents with prep-aged children favour co-education, a proportion even higher among prospective parents.
What is the timescale for change?
The first changes take place in September 2024. Meanwhile we are carefully planning for full co-education and have introduced a series of events for pupils and parents to explain and receive feedback on what the future will look like.
There are also transition events to ensure students are comfortable with the new environment in which they will be learning. Staff will also receive training on teaching co-educational classes and pastoral care.
From September 2023:
- Transition events for pupils and staff – details to follow.
From September 2024:
- Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 will become co-educational, and will be based on the Almshouse Street site.
- Years 12 and 13 will be based on the west side of the Monmouth Girls’ School site on the Hereford Road.
- Year 11 students, who will be midway through their GCSEs, will remain in single sex classes on the Almshouse Street site to minimise any disruption in such an important year.
- The Prep School will move to the east side of the current Girls’ School site on the Hereford Road. View our new Prep School video here.
Many co-curricular activities are already co-educational and more will become so in the years ahead. Sport will remain largely single-sex with common, high expectations.
From September 2025:
- All classes from Nursery to Year 13 will be co-educational.
Simon Dorman is leading the transition project, alongside acting Head of Monmouth Girls’, Rachel Rees, who becomes deputy head of the new school from September 2024.
How will the merger affect current pupils?
The merger in September 2024 will affect all pupils but we will ensure minimal disruption to their studies during the transition phase, particularly those undertaking public exams (such as GCSEs) in 2024-25 and 2025-26.
Pupils who have already begun to prepare for GCSEs will be kept in single-sex classes so we can continue to teach and examine them on the same curriculum.
Pupils will continue to have access to the same subjects, supported by familiar staff in the academic and pastoral teams. They will also have access to the same opportunities through our comprehensive programme of activities, performing arts, sports and trips.
What are the potential benefits of the merger?
The benefits are a significant investment in the schools’ estate, increased capacity made possible by better use of school buildings, and an improved educational offer with, for example, the Haberdashers’ Aspire programme providing enhanced careers and university guidance.
Of all the options considered, merging the schools provided the most opportunities to enhance the educational provision for pupils and the most effective use of the school’s income and estate in financially challenging times.
The transition also benefits from the support of the William Jones Foundation, whose trustees agreed to invest in the Schools’ transformation.
Curriculum, extra-curricular activities and Saturday school
Co-education will provide high academic standards, a more varied curriculum, excellent sports and extra-curricular provision throughout the week, and a wider range of activities in addition to sports fixtures on Saturdays, in place of formal lessons.
When will decisions on curriculum be taken?
Decisions on the curriculum are a priority as pupils prepare to take exams in two or three years’ time, and will be announced soon.
We will begin to unify the curricula in the Boys’ and Girls’ schools from the start of next academic year (2023-24) with pupils studying syllabuses from the same examination boards.
Pupils and their parents will have time to understand and prepare for any changes to the school curriculum, though the range of subjects will be the same as now.
We are working towards a staffing structure to provide pupils with a wider variety of courses – both in and away from the classroom – including some that have so far been offered exclusively at only the Boys’ or Girls’ school.
Will the range of subjects my children could study be affected by this?
At present, there are no plans to introduce new subjects. However, boys and girls may both now have access to subjects which were previously provided exclusively at either Monmouth Boys’ or Monmouth Girls’ school.
Does this mean that all children will have access to triple science or combined science at GCSE?
All students from Year 8 will be taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics separately and, from Year 10, will be offered the choice of taking triple science at GCSE or a combined science exam equivalent to two GCSEs. Pupils who choose to study combined science will be able to study an additional optional subject, for example another language.
Will the school adopt the Welsh combined science course?
Will sports and games still feature on the weekly timetable to the same extent after the schools merge?
The programme for sports, games and physical activity will continue to be delivered to the same high standard and games lessons will continue to be held in the afternoons, as part of the timetable. Students will continue to be taught separately in major sports.
Pupils will benefit from the same level and range of sports coaching and we will continue building on this once the merger is completed, including the possible recruitment of more specialist sports coaches as part of an enhanced sports offering.
Will activities – such as rowing, orchestra, lacrosse, drama, performing arts, CCF – merge?
Students will continue to be taught separately for major sports as they are now.
However, building on the opportunity co-education presents we will consider which of our sports should be offered to both boys and girls. A working party is considering our sporting offering from September 2024
We will maintain and build on the current range of sporting activities, including offering certain sports in mixed form. In sports such as swimming and cross-country, there is already the opportunity for joint training and competitions.
Merging will increase access to the combined range of sports facilities, providing more opportunities for all pupils to make the best use of these. Our extensive fixtures programme will continue.
Will there be any changes to the co-curricular provision?
The current model of the timetable for the co-ed school provides for co-curricular activities at lunch times and at the end of every day with an extended period on a Wednesday afternoon. As well as the long-term benefits to students of building skills and experiences, co-curricular activities de-stress, enrich, unearth passions and contribute greatly to self-confidence.
Our extensive co-curricular provision is an integral part of the student experience. By moving to a co-educational structure, it allows us to continue to build on the existing co-curricular provision, and to cater for a wider range of interests.
When will Saturday school be phased out?
There will be no formal teaching on Saturdays from September 2024. In its place, an enhanced programme of extra-curricular activities will be put in place for pupils who wish to take part.
We intend to maintain our strong sporting fixture list and provide a wide range of other activities, on Saturdays. Boarders will be expected to take part in these, providing focus for them.
Will class sizes go up?
One of the many strengths of the schools is the small class sizes and our maximum class sizes will be no bigger than currently.
Average class sizes may rise slightly, as we have previously had some very small classes, for example in specific subjects at GCSE, and these will be more effectively taught in slightly larger co-educational groups. In these instances, larger classes will facilitate better discussion and debate without any detrimental impact on the attention paid to each pupil in class.
The dynamic of the co-educational classroom will be different and good teaching and classroom management will support the needs of all pupils equally. We will establish an ethos in the classroom of respect for the opinions of all students, where good behaviour and a commitment to learning are the norm and where students feel safe and valued. A Working Group is currently looking at the optimum pastoral structures for our new school and aim to have reached a decision on this by February half term.
How will you support the boys and girls in learning to work and live together?
Most of our students already have experience of being in mixed classes at their Prep or primary schools, and many currently take part in co-curricular activities which are co-educational. Many more already socialise together outside of school.
Our pastoral and teaching teams are working hard to deliver an extended transition programme to help the students prepare, and we have very strong pastoral provision in place for every year group as we move to become fully co-educational.
Our teachers are already experienced in supporting students to learn together at A-level and they will apply the same techniques with younger year groups. Many have taught co-educational classes at other schools and new recruits to the teaching staff will bring their own valuable experience.
What role will Houses play in supporting the pupils?
Currently the boys’ and the girls’ school have different structures for pastoral care. Whether the co-educational school will facilitate this through Houses, led by Housemasters and Housemistresses, or through year groups, overseen by Heads of Year, or a combination of both is currently under discussion.
The Working Groups are deciding on this structure. Many pastoral discussions will be led in co-ed groups, though there may be issues which are better addressed in single sex groups.
What changes to PSHE are you putting in place to support a co-ed school?
From 2024 we will teach PSHE and offer pastoral care and support in a way that is fully in tune with the current social environment, building on the strengths of our current, excellent PSHE provision.
Will you offer relationships and sex education?
We already have a strong PSHE/RSE programme in place and teaching our students about these topics together will give them a better understanding of different perspectives on relationships and sex. Where deemed appropriate, certain topics may be delivered in single sex groups.
If my child’s tutor is teaching on two sites how will they access them when they need to?
Each student’s day will begin with their pastoral team, and they will have regular meetings with their tutor. Tutors will also be available at times outside of tutor periods and we will design the timetable to minimise staff movement between sites, making tutors more available to their tutees. The roles and resources for the medical, counselling and support staff are also being reviewed.
The staffing structure will remain the same as it is, led by a master or a mistress and supported by a resident tutor, matron and academic staff on duty during the week.
Has a decision been made about whether to have co-ed boarding houses?
Boarding houses will be single-sex from Year 9. We will continue with a co-ed junior boarding house for prep school and Year 7 and 8 boarders.
What will Boarding Houses look like in the new co-ed school?
Boys and girls will continue to be cared for in single-sex accommodation apart from our youngest boarders.
There will be a range of activities on Saturdays for boarders and a variety of recreational trips away from school at weekends.
The staffing structure will remain the same as it is, led by a master or a mistress and supported by a resident tutor, matron and academic staff on duty during the week.
Which boarding houses will be affected by the refurbishments?
Monnow House, Twiston-Davies House and School House are undergoing extensive refurbishment to allow them to house different year groups and accommodate the growing, changing school. Augusta House, New House, Weirhead House and Buchanan House are undergoing minor changes to layout.
Monnow House, currently the co-ed prep boarding facility for Years 3 to 8, will move next door into a wing of Twiston-Davies House, which naturally divides into the proposed vertical split and is close to key school facilities, including the dining hall, swimming pool and Astro.
The ground floor will contain co-ed communal areas, a new kitchen and access to a private garden. Girls and boys will be housed separately on each of the two remaining floors. The other half of Twiston-Davies House, closest to Augusta House, will house girls from Year 9 to 11.
Augusta House, which has plenty of single study rooms, will remain as Sixth Form accommodation for Year 12 and 13 girls in single, ensuite rooms but with additional recreational areas. Both sides will retain separate entrances and will have separate access to garden spaces.
School House will close early in July 2023 to enable conversion work to be undertaken creating additional classrooms and day pastoral space in preparation for September 2024. Current School House Year 9 pupils will move to New House; Year 10 pupils will move to Weirhead House and Year 11 and 12 pupils will move to Buchanan House, to be joined by newly-joining Year 12 boarders.
Staff play an important role in supporting pupils’ education and welfare during and after the merger of the two schools and delivering the co-ed curriculum. They are integral to the planning for the co-ed school and their experience and commitment is central to the success of the merger.
Does the merger have the support of teaching staff?
The teaching staff is central to the success of our move to full co-education. Our teachers embraced the opportunity to teach both young men and women together in the Sixth Form and the benefits of this, including wider-ranging discussion in the classroom and a broader range of teaching styles, became quickly apparent.
Our teaching staff is equally enthusiastic about teaching our younger pupils in co-ed classes. Teachers already have experience of co-ed teaching in their sixth form classes and many in their previous schools.
We recognise that a new ethos for the co-ed school will need to be established and, in doing so, some aspects of each of our current schools, valued by some staff, will be difficult to preserve. However, we are committed to creating a forward-looking school which will provide for the needs of all our pupils and prepare them for the challenges of their adult life.
How will you prepare the teachers to move from single-sex teaching to co-ed?
Our teachers are already highly skilled and experienced, and we are confident they will make this transition smoothly.
We currently teach in single-sex classes from Years 7 to 11 and run co-educational lessons in the Sixth Form across both sites, so every teacher at Monmouth already has experience of teaching in a co-educational environment.
We will also run additional training sessions for our teaching staff if necessary during and after the merger and will draw on the experience of other independent schools who have instigated a similar structure.
Where will Heads of Departments be based?
The Heads of Sixth Form subjects will be based on the Sixth Form site. Other Heads of Department may be based on either site and there will be departmental areas for each department on both sites.
The estate and facilities
The transition to co-education creates a rare opportunity to adapt, modernise and revitalise the use of Monmouth School's facilities and will make the best use of our estate in this breathtakingly beautiful corner of the Welsh countryside.
How will the use of the Schools’ estate change?
We are improving the use of our facilities and buildings as a result of the merger. Our ambition is to keep the capacity of the school at approximately 1,200 pupils.
For academic subjects, it is unlikely that pupils will need to move between sites. The Sixth Form, who are currently taught at both the boys’ and girls’ schools, will be based on the west side of the Hereford Road which will provide a mature and spacious environment appropriate for students in their final two years of school.
For co-curricular activities such as sports, music and drama, pupils will move between sites to benefit from excellent, specialist facilities and allow the mixing of year groups.
What sort of accommodation and recreational spaces will be provided for pupils when they are not in class?
We are creating a range of recreational spaces to suit students’ individual needs and interests. Although many students enjoy the “common room” environment, we will also create indoor and outdoor areas where students can spend time more quietly in smaller groups, as well as spaces to enjoy activities.
Recreational spaces will be overseen by staff throughout the breaks and lunchtimes, and students will have members of staff directly available to talk to at all times.
In the Sixth Form Centre there will be a café and other spaces, indoor and outside, where students can be together in an informal atmosphere. There are some subjects that are only taught in the Sixth Form and these teachers will provide the core of the supervision of the Sixth Form Centre, under the leadership of the Director of Sixth Form.
The extensive library at the girls’ school will be remodelled to provide research and learning facilities appropriate for sixth form study.
Where will building work take place?
One of the reasons for the chosen location of the year groups is that it makes excellent use of our existing facilities. We are also making considerable investment in the refurbishment and extension of existing buildings as part of the merger.
The Hereford Road west site is ideal for the Sixth Form and already has classrooms, laboratories, study spaces and recreational spaces. The building will be remodelled to give it a clear identity which is appropriate for our oldest students.
Hereford Road east and Inglefield House will provide spacious accommodation for our youngest pupils and together will provide sufficient outdoor space for recreation.
At the Almshouse Street site, Years 7 to 11 already have excellent, recently refurbished science laboratories and there will be more classrooms and an extended dining room. Thought is being given to the nature of indoor recreational spaces and where additional lavatories should be located.
All our students will still be able to access the same range of facilities as at present, including science and language labs, IT suites, facilities for art and the performing arts and our classrooms.
Is the Almshouse Street site big enough for all the students in Years 7 to 11?
Yes, there is sufficient space for about 600 pupils; that is about 120 in each year group.
However, for the school to run efficiently there is the need to extend the dining room to maximise time available for lunchtime and afternoon activities. There is sufficient time for both these projects to be completed by September 2024 and funding will come from the William Jones endowment.
Will you maintain libraries on both of the current Monmouth Boys’ and Monmouth Girls’ sites?
Yes. Each site will have its own library provision on site, with age-appropriate resources.
What will happen to catering?
The catering team will continue to provide lunches and a full service for boarders on both sites.
Will there be ALN provision on both sites?
The Additional Learning Needs team will work across both the sites.
How will pupils move between sites?
Coach and minibus transfers will continue to be used to transport boarders between sites.
How will you manage traffic and parking on the sites?
There will continue to be parking for staff and visitors on both sites. Any sixth formers who drive to school will park off-site, as is currently the case.
The new Sixth Form Centre on the Hereford Road west site will provide a mature and spacious environment appropriate for students in their final two years of school, equipped with study spaces and laboratories, classrooms and recreational spaces. Architects have drawn up designs to refurbish these buildings to produce first-rate facilities dedicated to Sixth Form students’ needs. Plans, drawings and an architect’s model are all available to view.
What will the Sixth Form look like?
The planning application to transform the current Sixth Form facilities at the Girls’ School by joining the Common room, Atrium and Careers Library to the Science Block, has been approved and with will start in the summer of 2023.
This new facility will properly prepare our students for the world they face when they leave us – as independent, confident young men and women, who have had the opportunities and support to work out who they want to be.
We are creating an environment in which every learning space – from classrooms to seminar spaces – is designed to engage with learning and gives students a taste of what life will be like in their future workplaces and universities.
We will treat sixth-formers as grown-ups, with café-style social spaces, and their own areas for individual study, whilst monitoring their academic performance carefully and keeping in place the exceptional standard of pastoral care that we offer to all our students.
Will the Sixth Form still be role models for younger students?
We are committed to ensuring that the oldest students continue to act as role models and have leadership opportunities.
Sixth Formers will still be appointed to Prefect roles and will be expected to support the younger pupils on the Almshouse Street site. Sixth Formers will continue to play the same vital leadership role in activities such as CCF, music and drama. Sixth Form students will also be involved in running and leading pupil voice, school councils, clubs and activities. Sixth Formers will attend assemblies and chapel services with younger pupils and will also have games lessons together with the Year 11 pupils.
What is Haberdashers’ Aspire?
Career advice and the process of obtaining a university place is increasingly important. The Haberdashers’ Aspire programme is an exciting and innovative change to careers support. It links each of our Sixth Form students with a personal mentor recruited from the alumni of Haberdashers’ Schools nationally and internationally and from the wider Haberdashers’ family.
Nikki Cunnigham-Smith is the Aspire manager and created an initial pilot with a group of 12 students matching them with mentors. They will have their first conversations with their mentors in the first week of July to begin developing a relationship that will provide them with the benefit of support from an industry expert, as they take their first steps into further education and the working world.
The expanded programme was launched on 5 June to all Year 12 pupils. Although not compulsory, 74 students have registered their interest and will have their first mentor conversation in September.
This meets the needs of the Haberdashers’ Monmouth community as the pilot and has the flexibility to be rolled out to all schools in the Haberdashers’ family once proof of concept is established.
In addition to the mentoring which occurs through the Haberdashers’ Aspire programme, tutors and the careers department support students through their Sixth Form courses to ensure that they develop the skills required for success while enjoying the experience of learning a smaller number of subjects in greater depth. In early September we will be advertising two opportunities for teaching staff: a Careers Co-ordinator who will also support applications to university, and an Academic Digital Lead to spearhead developing a digital teaching and learning programme to help define our IT strategy over the next five years.
Will you continue to run extension opportunities for the Sixth Form?
We want to provide flexibility to our students’ Sixth-Form programme. All pupils will study at least three A-levels from a choice of 25 subjects, and some students will take a fourth. The Extended Project Qualification, well regarded by universities, is a further option. The skills required to complete this qualification successfully are taught at the start of the course and a mentor supports the student throughout.
There is a wide variety of non-examined courses and some of these link Sixth-Formers with younger pupils. Debating, public-speaking, music, drama and dance all flourish alongside a wide range of academic societies.
Sport is a large part of the life of many Sixth-Formers’ lives, whether played competitively at a high level or on a more recreational basis to support fitness and provide enjoyment. The facilities and coaches support all sporting aspirations.
Activities such as CCF and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, as well as volunteering, feature prominently in the lives of many sixth-formers. All our students will be encouraged to find areas of interest and enjoyment away from the classroom which we hope will develop life-long enthusiasms.
Culture and values
Compassion, integrity, creativity, community, opportunity, energy, curiosity, and perseverance will pervade our co-educational school.
How will the co-ed schools preserve the Boys’ and Girls’ schools’ distinct aims, ethos and values?
Monmouth has for a great many years produced young men and women ready to take their place in society. Our video, ‘Our Values are Timeless’, promotes these values and this can be viewed here.
Naturally, the two Schools have slightly different cultures, born of their individual histories and environments.
But at heart, both senior schools strive to provide the same thing: a supportive learning environment that caters for each child as an individual.
We are working with our staff across both Schools to preserve the very best elements of everything that we currently do and make Monmouth even better for all of our students, staff and parents.
What will the new school be called?
The Haberdashers’ Company has agreed “Haberdashers’ Monmouth School”, sure to be shortened to Habs Monmouth, as the new school’s name.
The names “Monmouth School for Boys” and “Monmouth School for Girls” will no longer be used to refer to the two separate sites, although we will enshrine and celebrate them as a vital part of our schools’ history.
For day-to-day use, the current Monmouth School for Boys site will be referred to as the Almshouse Street campus, and the current Monmouth School for Girls site will be referred to as the Hereford Road campus.
Will the uniform change?
Provisional decisions have been made on uniform. To reduce waste and unnecessary cost, changes are being kept to a minimum, and pupils will be able to continue wearing old uniform for an agreed period. We previously said that the pink accents on the on girls’ jumpers and skirts would change to gold, but after consultation with the MG School Council we have agreed their preference to keep the skirt as it currently is with the pink lines within the navy blue. However, from September 2024 girls will move towards plain navy jumpers, as will all students in the new senior school.
- The lion on boys’ sports kit will be retained, but changed to the crest on school blazers
- The boys’ chocolate blazer will retain the lion
Pre-prep uniform will be changed to bring it in line with the prep school.
How will you protect the history and heritage of our schools?
It is important to recognise that the Haberdashers’ schools in Monmouth have had continuous change during their long histories. However, maintaining our heritage is very important and our Working Groups are considering this carefully.
Monmouth School was founded in 1614 through the bequest of William Jones and by the 1870s had grown to become one of the founder members of the Headmasters’ Conference. The girls’ school was established by the Haberdashers’ Company in 1892. More recent changes include the move to joint Sixth Form teaching and the establishment of a co-ed prep school.
Becoming fully co-educational is the next step in the evolution of our Schools and marks the beginning of another chapter in our long history. It is vital to acknowledge and reflect the many great things that our predecessors established as we move forward into the future.
Do you have a vision for the new co-educational school?
We believe it is not a school’s structure which determines the quality of its educational provision. It is the commitment and skills of the teaching staff, the school’s ethos, the processes and systems which ensure an ordered and stimulating environment and the facilities which support learning and co-curricular activities.
Equally important is the support of our parents who reinforce the school’s values to their children. We have consulted parents extensively throughout the process of reaching the decision to merge.
We are using the move to fully co-ed provision to review every aspect of the schools’ operations and produce a clear identity for our new school. This process has started with the establishment of one Head of Department for each subject who are, with their departments, reviewing their schemes of work, the resources for learning and the exam boards to be used.
We are carefully considering the way pastoral care is provided and the skills of the staff involved to ensure our pupils get the support and encouragement they need.
And finally, the co-curricular life of the school will be evaluated to ensure it provides for the needs of all pupils offering a wide range of opportunities for a variety of interests and talents.
We are accepting enquiries about admissions to the new co-educational school.
More information, including a full prospectus, will be available in due course. In the meantime please contact Georgina Hanford, our Director of Admissions here.
What does the merger mean for new pupils entering the school in September 2023?
The admissions process for 2023 entry will remain unchanged, with girls joining Monmouth School for Girls and boys joining Monmouth School for Boys.
We will run an extensive transition programme in 2023-24 to ensure that every child is fully prepared for the move to a fully co-educational environment in September 2024, including opportunities to familiarise themselves with the facilities and staff, and to meet and make friends with each other.
Will prospective pupils be involved in the transition programme too?
Prospective pupils will be invited to events in the Summer term 2024 to introduce them to their future classmates and teachers and familiarise them with the sites and structures of their future school.
What does this mean for pupils joining the school from September 2024 and beyond?
The admissions process remains the same, but students are being invited to visit the site relevant to their age when they join the school.
This means that all candidates for entry to the Sixth Form are touring the Hereford Road site, and those for entry to Years 7-11 the Almshouse Street site.
Whichever site you visit, we will make sure you have opportunities to meet the relevant senior staff, and to ask any questions you may have about the school. We are also running a series of Open Days, as usual, and families are warmly invited to attend.
My child is currently in the admissions process. Can I come and visit the other site?
Yes, you are welcome to visit both sites. If your child is joining us in September 2023, we will arrange an individual visit for you as soon as possible so that you can explore those parts of our campus you haven’t yet visited.
For enquiries for September 2024 or later, we have held a series of Open Days. You are, of course, also very welcome to come for an individual visit.
How will the merger affect Monmouth Schools’ academic performance?
We believe that co-education offers many advantages, and these will be reflected in the community and ethos we are building at the school.
There is a belief, to an extent reinforced by league tables, that girls do better academically in all-girls schools. This is, in part, due to the more selective nature of all-girl schools and research evidence does not support this view.
On the contrary, research by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of the Centre for Education and Employment Research concluded that it is not a school’s structure which is the major determining factor in its success but how the school operates. This finding is also supported in the work of John Hattie whose seminal work – Visible Learning – reviews the impact of various interventions to improve pupil outcomes. In the section about gender, he reports only small differences in the attitudes and abilities of boys and girls and concludes, “overall, the differences between males and females should not be of major concern to educators. There is more variance within groups of boys and within groups of girls than there are differences between boys and girls”. It is the outstanding teaching provision which is and will continue to be the major determinant of our boys’ and girls’ academic success.
Given these findings, and the way in which societal expectation and aspirations of men and women are merging, educating boys and girls together makes good sense in today’s environment.
The co-educational school will have a secure financial footing and continues to enjoy the support of the William Jones Foundation which has sustained its growth and transformation since Monmouth School was founded in 1614.
Will this move have an impact on fees?
The School has carried out detailed financial modelling as part of this process and re-organising our structure in this way provides greater efficiency, allowing us to protect against excessive future fee rises. However, it is inevitable that the current inflationary climate will cause fees to increase.
Is the change about saving money?
There are two aspects to this change. The first is a belief that the manner in which society has changed over the last few decades makes co-education a preferable model. Enabling boys and girls to live and learn together, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses and seeing that these have far more to do with individual differences rather than gender stereotypes, is a better preparation for adult life.
Secondly, from a financial perspective, becoming fully co-educational will ensure that every pound of our income is spent as efficiently as possible. In turn, that means we can deliver better opportunities, experiences and outcomes for each of our students. As a charity, it is our responsibility to operate as efficiently as possible, especially in the current national and global economy.
What factors were considered in the decision to merge the schools?
There is a diminishing provision of single-sex education in the UK and many alumni have requested more information about our justification for progressing to co-educational schooling, having benefited from single-sex education themselves.
We have found that single-sex education is no longer what most parents want, having spoken to numerous other schools and parents of pupils elsewhere, including schools that have taken a similar trajectory by switching to co-education.
There is also a recognition that a co-educational environment is better at helping children to develop social and emotional skills. There are many benefits to making the learning environment as inclusive and diverse as possible and excluding the opposite sex for five years of a child’s development is at odds with this. This alone provides justification for the change.
Maintaining equity of opportunity – including access to facilities and activities – is extremely difficult across two separate schools on different sites, and there are differences in our offering to boys and girls that are increasingly hard to justify. Giving boys and girls the same opportunities inevitably results in duplication and inefficiency. We consulted several external experts with experience of co-education and schools moving to co-ed, in order to deepen our understanding of the implications of making the decision.
We want to invest every penny to achieve the greatest possible impact for our students. As part of the decision process, we reviewed our campus and realised that we can operate far more efficiently under the planned, co-educational model. It also provides a once-in-a-generation investment in our facilities from the William Jones Endowment, which will improve educational opportunities and outcomes.
There are currently many threats to independent schools, including the cost-of-living crisis, recession, inflation, the increasing cost of utilities and the likelihood of losing business rate relief and adding VAT to fees for independent schools. In order to make these investments, we must run efficiently.
Alumni will continue to go on to great things as a new chapter in the history of Monmouth Schools begins. OMs and OGs will play an important role in the Haberdashers' Aspire programme and in nurturing the life of the community here.
What will happen to alumni organisations?
This is a question for the organisations themselves, which they have already begun to discuss. Joint events have already taken place and senior staff from our schools attend alumni meetings.
What will happen to the honours boards?
The honours boards will be retained and will continue to be displayed in appropriate locations. They are a vital part of our heritage and a historical record of the schools that we will be proud to maintain alongside new boards for co-educational honours.
How will you preserve each School’s history and traditions?
We will maintain the key traditions that are important to our students and staff, but will look forward too, to creating new ones together.