The Coeducation Success Story
Recent figures released by the Independent Schools Council reveal that the number of single sex independent schools has almost halved in the last 20 years. The trend has been put down to parents favouring a coeducational school environment because it offers better preparation for life beyond school.
These findings don’t come as any surprise to Our Lady’s Abingdon (OLA). Its Junior School has always been coeducational, and the Senior School began admitting boys as well in 2009. This academic year is a significant milestone, as the school became fully coeducational across all year groups for the first time in its history.
Studies conducted over the last half century have shown that, on academic grounds, there are no reasons for choosing a single sex school over coeducation. There are also good social reasons for choosing a mixed school such as OLA. Educating boys and girls together advances their emotional wellbeing and ensures that, when they leave school, they become happy and well-adjusted members of society, able to live and work with all manner of people.
OLA’s Principal, Mr Stephen Oliver, says of the coeducational approach: “The aim of any good school is to prepare its students for the world beyond the classroom. In that world it has been the case for many years that men and women work and study together, at university and beyond. In our view, the sooner that process starts, the better.”
Admitting boys has led to some exciting new developments at OLA. With pupil numbers increasing in both the Junior and Senior Schools, there has been a need to expand the already extensive facilities. A multi-use games area was completed in 2012 and a new Design and Technology Centre was officially opened by local MP Nicola Blackwood in October 2013. This year has seen the opening of a new bistro dining area for the senior years, with further redevelopments in the pipeline.