The Governors of the Stamford Endowed Schools have announced their intention to restructure the diamond-model Stamford Endowed Schools as a fully co-educational School.
The Governors believe that a fully co-educational environment now represents a more relevant educational model for young people, and now wish to extend co-educational provision to all year groups.
A scoping exercise will be carried out during the course of the Spring term, the findings of which will allow the Governors and Executive to determine detailed views on the process before plans are finalised.
The exercise will help Governors and the Executive to consider the most appropriate timescales for the change, and to ensure that any specific concerns from parents, students and staff can be identified and addressed. Several hundred current and prospective parents, staff, and students will be involved in the scoping exercise.
The project is being carried out by RSAcademics, a specialist consultancy with expertise in independent schools’ strategy, and one of the leading research authorities in the sector. Preparation for the exercise will begin immediately, with staff and parent participation expected to commence in the second half of January, and students in early February.
The scoping exercise will be completed by Easter this year, and headline findings will be shared with the School community in the first half of the summer term.
Please continue reading to find out more about the reasoning for the proposed changes, and to find out more about the scoping exercise.
Although the diamond model has served us well, the educational and social landscape has changed significantly in the past two decades and the Governors now believe that a fully co-educational environment will give our students the best opportunities and outcomes, both academically and pastorally.
Research into pupil progress and methods of teaching and learning has moved forward dramatically, and we can now tailor methods and support much more closely to individual students rather than relying on generalised techniques based on biological sex. Any benefits of single-sex teaching are outweighed by the clear social, pastoral and developmental benefits of a co-educational environment.
For young people, navigating feelings and relationships can sometimes be challenging. By separating our students for much of their time, as we do in the diamond model, we are denying them the natural opportunities that they need to develop those interpersonal skills. In a co-educational environment, that learning can take place easily, and over time, as our students develop together.
Our students are already in a co-educational environment in nine out of fourteen year groups, and co-educational activities already operate at every stage. We know that our students really thrive in the co-educational environment. Those students who are at Stamford for only part of their education are, almost without exception, in co-educational settings before they join us or after they leave us. Nationally, demand for single sex education is reducing.
There is, too, the ongoing question of ensuring equality for our male and female students. By educating them in different environments, with different teachers and with different facilities, it is an ongoing challenge to ensure that they always have access to the same opportunities and outcomes. Ensuring equality for all students is not just a question of morality and fairness; it is, rightly, a legal requirement.
The diamond model, and the size of our Schools, already allow us to offer a far wider range of opportunities – whether academic or co-curricular – than either Stamford School or Stamford High School could provide individually. By combining year groups at all stages, and avoiding duplication of activities, we can extend those opportunities even further.
Finally, the world, and the workplace, are fully integrated. We believe our students can best learn to navigate the world, and to communicate and work well and happily with their future friends, partners and colleagues, if they are learning the social and emotional skills that they will need in a co-educational environment.
We have not, as yet, formulated specific plans. However, to create the best learning environment for children in different stages of their education, and to make the most of the existing sites, our thinking at this stage involves teaching all students in Years 7-11 on the Stamford School site, and converting the Stamford High School site into a specialist facility for the Sixth Form, which is already co-educational.
Stamford Junior School would remain a co-educational junior school, as it is now. The only difference is that Year 6 students would remain together with their friends and classmates as they transition to the senior school, and a single transition team, rather than two parallel teams, would oversee the move.
The Sixth Form is already co-educational, but students would benefit from being based on a single site, specifically designed to cater for the needs of young adults, including appropriate pastoral and social spaces, and enhance the Sixth Form learning experience.
Further to the announcement last term, we will delay the appointment of a new Head of Sixth Form for the time being, until this exercise is complete.
We believe that this is now the right approach for our students, and that a co-educational environment will be more beneficial for them than the existing model. It therefore makes sense to work towards this model sooner rather than later.
We know that the world is in a state of flux, with the parallel challenges of Covid-19 and, in the UK, Brexit, but the world is always changing and we believe a move to full co-education needs to be part of our strategy to help our students in the post-Covid world. Delaying a beneficial change in the hope that we might some day reach a more settled period would be doing our students a disservice.
We know, too, that our schools, and our students and staff, are extremely well-equipped to cope with change. They have navigated the pandemic exceptionally well, and although they will continue to need support to help them recover from the knocks that Covid has delivered, that programme of additional support is firmly in place and will continue to run for as long as is necessary.
Ensuring our schools continue to meet the needs of our students means constantly adapting and evolving as the world changes around us. We are staffed and equipped to consider and introduce strategic changes alongside our daily activities, and the benefits of this change are such that we do not feel it would be appropriate to delay its introduction.
Parents, staff and students will be invited to participate in one-to-one interviews or small group discussions. Discussions may take place in person, via online video calling, or by telephone. All of the interviews and discussions will be led by staff from RSAcademics Please note that the research team will be unable to answer specific questions about the proposals; their focus will be on capturing views on the Stamford Endowed Schools moving to a fully coeducational offering.
Preparatory work will start immediately, and conversations with parents and staff will commence in the second half of January. The study will run until Easter.
RSAcademics will select a random sample of current and prospective parents, ensuring representation across all three schools. We will survey proportionately more parents at Stamford Junior School, as their children will be most affected by the change.
Staff will be selected at random by RSAcademics, and those selected will then be invited to participate through one-to-one interviews or small group discussions. All staff will have an opportunity to submit their views to the research team by email. Individual staff responses will not be shared with the School.
Students will be selected to take part in small discussions in groups of three. Students from all three schools will be involved.
To ensure that the research is unbiased, all participants will be selected at random.
No: you are welcome to opt out. If you do not want to be included in the study, please contact Mrs Jackie Cattell at email@example.com to let us know.
We will share a summary of the findings. Given the nature of the research, some of the data might contain personal information, and the detail of individual responses will not be published by RSAcademics. We would like to reassure participants that all input will be anonymised before it is passed to us: we will not know how any individual has responded, or indeed which parents have participated.
The Governors are very clear that this is the direction the Schools should move in. They will be taking on board the feedback received during the scoping exercise, but this is of course only one element in such an important strategic decision. The Governors will communicate their decision in the first half of the summer term.
If we make a change, it would be implemented at the start of an academic year to minimise disruption to students. No change would take place until September 2023 at the earliest. Any student in Year 11 at the point that we make the change (who would be mid-way through their two-year GCSE examination course) would remain in their existing single-sex classes. Every aspect of normal school life would continue throughout this period.
We are in the process of exploring any specific changes that would be required. Both senior school sites are already very well equipped, but some practical changes, such as creating additional toilets and changing facilities, would be required for students in Years 7-11.
Although we are considering a change to the structure of the Schools, there are no plans to reduce the number of students, and the number of staff required to support them would also remain largely the same. The proposed structure would create a number of new roles and opportunities.
Our team is working through the arrangements that would be required, and identifying the associated costs. We would develop each site to provide age-specific environments of the highest standard. We are financially in a strong position, but by removing the necessity to duplicate provision on two sites, we would be able to ensure any investment is achieving the greatest possible impact for our students.
Not at all. The Kettering Road site was always designed to expand and enhance our overall sports provision across SES. We have no plans to reduce the number of students, and the new provision on the Kettering Road is and will remain a vital part of our provision.
Boarding houses would remain single sex in the senior schools.
Unfortunately we cannot guarantee to hold your place if the year group is oversubscribed, but please contact the Registrar who will be able to advise you further.
Parents, staff and students will be selected to take part in the study on a random basis by the RSAcademics team, to ensure fair representation of views and eliminate selection bias. Any comments or feedback outside this process (such as discussions with staff or governors) cannot therefore be taken into account in the study.
Although we cannot meet with parents on this topic until the exercise is complete, you can email us with your views at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although it may not be possible to respond in detail to all of the points raised by email during the scoping exercise, all views will be acknowledged and passed on to the project team.