Co-education at Aldro

A PHASED MOVE TO CO-EDUCATION FROM SEPTEMBER 2021

We are delighted to announce our plans to phase in co-education at Aldro from September 2021 so that more families can benefit from our excellent academic and co-curricular offering.

Initially, the admission of day girls will focus on Years 3, 4 & 5 and, as these year groups move up, the school will gradually become fully co-educational. A new girls’ boarding facility is planned to open in September 2022 enabling girls to board at Aldro before moving on to their chosen senior school at 13. All year groups are expected to have both boys and girls by September 2024.

The move to co-education is in response to the needs of parents both locally and further afield seeking broader educational options for their children. Families are increasingly looking for a school that will welcome both their son and daughter and provide the same opportunities for them both within a shared school environment. With an ever-growing number of Aldro pupils choosing to progress to coeducational senior schools, the move will ensure pupils are more broadly prepared for their new environments and their lives beyond Aldro.

The school’s much-loved ethos, values and educational aims will remain unchanged, as they have for the past 122 years. Research has shown our parents value Aldro’s family-friendly feel and its strong sense of community, something that will be further enhanced by the move to co-education. Aldro is a remarkable school with a wonderful and proud heritage, recognised for challenging and supporting its pupils to achieve exceptional results. The school will continue to focus on each and every child, ensuring they are individually known, appreciated and valued.

Co-education will enable pupils to benefit from the academic, social and developmental benefits of a mixed environment. The complementary skills and ways of thinking that both genders bring will add a new dynamic to classroom discussion. The co-curricular offering will also be enhanced with a new and broader range of sports, clubs and activities.

We understand there will be questions about the move to co-education. To help answer these, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) has been developed and is attached below. If you have further questions, as a current parent, please contact the Headmaster, Chris Carlier, via his PA, Elizabeth King (hmsec@aldro.org). As a prospective parent, please contact the Director of Admissions and Marketing, Sheridan Charles (admissions@aldro.org).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why has Aldro taken the decision to move to co-education from September 2021?
For a number of years the Governors have been aware that the independent school’s market has been changing and that the demand both locally and nationally for single sex education is declining.
Over the past 25 years the Independent School Council (ISC) reports the number of single sex schools has halved and within that period, 52% of single-sex boys’ schools have begun to admit girls. For the last decade the ISC Annual Census has reported an annual increase in demand across the country for coeducational places.
Aldro’s projections show that from 2021 over 75% of leavers will progress to co-educational senior schools. Indeed, Charterhouse, Aldro’s nearest and most popular senior school destination, reflects this trend as it begins its transition to full co-education, also in 2021.
With busy lives and numerous commitments, prospective families are increasingly looking for just one school to educate both their sons and daughters. By offering places for both girls and boys the school can now meet their requirements.
Aldro is an outstanding school with an exceptional senior school transition record. After extensive research, consultation and review, the Governors have decided that now is the right time to make a move that will secure the school’s successful future.

2. What are the benefits of moving to co-education?
Single sex education has served the boys of Aldro well for 122 years. However, gender differences in learning are not black and white, they are highly nuanced. The diversity of learning styles evident when boys and girls are taught side by side have many benefits, enhancing the learning experiences for both genders.
The move to co-education will be a fundamental step in preparing our pupils not just for their senior schools but for their personal and professional lives beyond school. Opportunities to promote mutual respect and equality in our pupils will occur more naturally in a co-educational school, reflecting the school’s family values and Christian ethos.

3. How and why was this decision made?
With the arrival of Chris Carlier as Headmaster, and aware of a changing local market, the Governors carried out a detailed strategic review throughout the 2019-20 school year. This review focused on strengthening the school’s current provision whilst simultaneously considering its goals and long-term future. The school invested in significant market and parental research to contribute to the decision making.
The Governors looked at all possible options for the future, including no change at all, and, after considerable analysis and reflection, unanimously agreed that this particular move will best help the school to grow and thrive for the wider benefit of all its pupils, and so enable the school to deliver the highest standards of education for generations to come.

4. Why has the move to co-education been announced now?
The Governors were committed to taking the necessary time to make the right decisions for Aldro’s future. With the new Headmaster now settled at the school, and with the Board united in its vision about the future direction of the school, the Governors agreed the time was right and that change could be announced without unnecessary delay. The implementation plan has now been fully agreed and, therefore, the Governors are delighted to be able to share this news.

5. Will this move change the school’s ethos and values?
No, the school’s ethos, values and educational aims will remain unaltered. The school will still be a familyfocused, caring environment, now with brothers and sisters able to be educated together until they are 13. Recent research showed that Aldro parents value the school’s friendly welcome and atmosphere, its high academic standards, its sense of good order and discipline and its focus on a broad and holistic education. None of this will change with the move to co-education, indeed these strengths will be enhanced as the school welcomes girls.
The Governors firmly believe the move to co-education is a natural extension of the school’s ethos and that Aldro will now be even better able to fulfil its aim of being a family school.

6. Will the school continue to focus on my son?
Absolutely. The school’s focus, energies and resources going forward will be channelled for the benefit of all the pupils equally. We will continue to have high expectations of the boys’ achievements and expect them to strive for excellence in their academic work, their sport, music, drama and creative arts as before. We anticipate that the addition of girls will add an exciting new dynamic and a healthy sense of competition that will be for the benefit of all.

7. Which year groups will girls join?
Initially the admissions process for day girls will focus on Years 3, 4 and 5. The school plans to open a girls’ boarding facility in 2022 to cater for full, weekly and part-time boarders. Once the boarding house is open, girls will be able to join as boarders in readiness to transition to 13+ senior schools. The school anticipates being fully co-educational from September 2024.

8. Will the school grow?
The move to co-education will enable the school to grow gradually over the years ahead, facilitating further investment. However, the character of the school will not change significantly and Aldro will continue to ensure every pupil is individually known and valued. Aldro remains committed to small class sizes. As before, Forms will continue to be capped at 20 pupils with average class sizes often significantly below this.


9. Will the current high academic standards remain?
The pursuit of academic excellence is a key ingredient of an Aldro education. Pupils leaving Aldro aspire to go on to competitive, selective senior schools and our admissions process will correspondingly continue to be gently selective. Indeed, we believe academic standards will continue to strengthen as numbers in the school grow.

10. Why will families choose Aldro for their daughters?
The school’s strong family feel, its academic ambitions for its pupils and the emphasis on the breadth of co-curricular provision will appeal to families of girls and boys alike.
Aldro girls will progress on to top independent single sex and co-educational senior schools and add to the fine record of academic scholarships that are a proud aspect of the school’s history. With the school’s current emphasis on sport, music, drama and the arts for all, girls, like the boys, will benefit from the broad, enriching elements of school life.

11. What changes will be required to accommodate girls?
Aldro already benefits from a wealth of classroom space, community areas and sports fields. The school plans to phase in future developments over time. Initially this will include the re-purposing of existing space behind the sports hall for a multi-use sports facility specifically to include provision for netball, the development of our performing arts venue, the CHC, as a multi-purpose performance venue with outstanding dance facilities to benefit all pupils, and the conversion of existing facilities in the centenary block to provide toilets and changing facilities for girls.
Work has begun on a new uniform for girls and Stevensons have been appointed as uniform fitters. The school looks forward to consulting parents and pupils on this over the coming term before final decisions are reached.

12. Will the school retain its noted emphasis on sport?
Sport will remain an integral part of the broad education that Aldro offers for both boys and girls as the school seeks to deliver on its broad educational philosophy. The benefit of sport is for boys and girls equally, and the mantra of participation and the pursuit of excellence will be encouraged for both.

13. What sports will the girls play?
Like the boys, the girls will play football, hockey, tennis and cricket as their main competitive sports. Netball will replace rugby. The girls will follow their own discrete sports programme but, where appropriate, boys and girls will have the additional opportunity to play alongside each other in these sports.
Girls will share the same programme of additional sports and activities with the boys, including sailing, rowing, swimming, cross-country, shooting, badminton, basketball, athletics and others. Plans are also underway to develop an extended activities programme, including fencing and equestrianism, from 2021.

14. Will additional staff be recruited to support the girls?
The school has an even split of male and female teachers, many with extensive experience teaching both boys and girls. However, with an anticipated growth in numbers, the school plans to employ further staff to support the move to co-education, starting with a Head of Girls’ Games. All staff will continue to receive ongoing professional training to cover all aspects of Aldro’s educational provision.

15. Where will future pupils come from?
Over the past seven years, pupils have come to Aldro from 98 different feeder schools, almost all of which are co-educational. Aldro will continue to appeal to families from local, London and overseas destinations.

16. Where will girls continue their education after Aldro?
Like the boys, it is expected that girls will move to their senior schools at 13. We expect that the following schools will prove to be amongst the popular future destinations for our girls and boys:

Boys Only Co-Education Girls Only
Eton Bradfield Benenden
Harrow Charterhouse Downe House
Radley Cranleigh Prior's Field
RGS Guildford Lancing Queen Anne's Caversham
Sherborne Lord Wandsworth College Sherborne Girls
Tonbridge Pangbourne St Catherine's, Bramley
Winchester Stowe St Mary's Ascot
  St Edward's, Oxford St Swithun's
  St John's Leatherhead Wycombe Abbey
  Uppingham  
  Wellington College  

                                                                                                                                                                                     

17. Will school fees increase?
No. School fees will not be affected by the move to co-education. Indeed, as the move to co-education will enable the school to grow gradually over the years ahead, the school expects to build greater cash reserves, putting it in a stronger position to limit fee increases longer term.
Girls joining Aldro during the early stages of the move to coeducation will be pioneers of a new development for the school and will accordingly benefit from appropriate, tapered fee discounts.

18. What is the formal process going forwards?
The school has recently submitted an application to the Department for Education informing them of the school’s future plans.

19. As a current parent, how can I find out more and to whom can I talk about the changes?
The Headmaster, Chris Carlier, the Chair of Governors, Brian Kirkpatrick, and members of the Board will be very happy to meet with parents to answer any further questions you may have regarding the changes. Please contact the Headmaster’s PA, Elizabeth King (hmsec@aldro.org) to arrange an appointment.

20. As a prospective parent, who can I talk to and when can I visit?
We are currently welcoming prospective parents to Aldro by individual appointment for a tour of the school and a meeting with the Headmaster. Please contact our Mrs Sheridan Charles, Director of Admissions and Marketing, on 01483 813535 or at admissions@aldro.org to discuss any questions you may have and to arrange a visit. Personal visits, to include a meeting with the Headmaster, can also be arranged by contacting the Admissions team.