Glasgow & West Scotland

Notre Dame: Boys to be admitted to Scotland's last all-girl state school

Pupils at Notre Dame Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image caption Notre Dame High has always been a girls-only school

The last state all-girls school in Scotland is to admit boys for the first time in 2021.

Councillors voted unanimously to allow boys to attend Notre Dame High School in Glasgow, which has taught only girls since its opening in 1897.

It follows fierce debate among parents and a lengthy consultation about the school's future.

Education officers recommended making the school "co-educational" after a vote at Glasgow City Council.

They said changes should not directly affect current students and that boys would be introduced in year groups from S1 in 2021.

Maureen McKenna, executive director of education at Glasgow City Council said: "Now that the decision has been made by elected members, education officers will start to develop transition plans and will engage with school and parent representatives from all the associated primary schools and secondary schools affected by changes."

Cost implications

She said that the council would be sensitive in recognising it was a significant change for the school and local community.

Notre Dame, in the west end of Glasgow, has admitted only girls since it opened more than 120 years ago.

At the time girls-only schools were commonplace. There are still some other state schools for girls in other parts of the UK.

A recent paper for councillors spelled out details of the options for Notre Dame's future.

The paper said that if Notre Dame started to take in boys, the school would gradually become co-educational over five years.

There would be boys in each fresh S1 intake, but boys would not join other year groups. This means that all the current students would still be educated in girl-only classes.

The council said about £750,000 of work would be needed to improve toilet and other facilities at Notre Dame to make them suitable for boys.

Image copyright Thomas Nugent
Image caption The school was founded in 1897

The catchment area for Notre Dame High will also be altered to include Notre Dame Primary School, St Patrick's Primary School and St Joseph's Primary School.

That will also lead to changes in the catchment areas for three other nearby secondaries - St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, St Roch's Secondary School and John Paul Academy.

The city's administration committee rejected two other options that would have kept Notre Dame as a girls' school.

'Positive choice'

Supporters of the school fought a powerful campaign against change.

They argued that sending a child to Notre Dame was a positive choice - some would contend girls may also do better in subjects such as maths and science in an environment where they cannot be perceived as "boys' subjects".

At the start of November, some pupils held a demonstration outside Glasgow City Council's headquarters.

A consultation earlier this year showed just how mixed local opinion was.

The single most popular option was for the school to start admitting boys with 45.9% backing the co-education option, with a change to catchment area.

However, the majority supported one of the options keeping Notre Dame as a single-sex school.

The status quo was supported by 39.9% and 13.4% wanted the status quo plus a change to catchment area.

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