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Westminster School has commenced plans to become co-educational. 

An independent school that can trace its roots back to 1560, the school sits in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, and is one of the most academic in the country, sending around 40% of its pupils to Oxbridge. It has educated no fewer than six former prime ministers, including Henry Pelham and John Russell, whilst alumni also include Louis Theroux, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Wren and Henry Purcell. Though girls have been allowed to join the Sixth Form for the past 50 years, the school now plans to extend that policy to include the senior school and Westminster Under School.

Westminster School

Pennie Withers

The Daily Telegraph reported the school will be fully co-ed by 2030, although this has not been confirmed by Westminster. 

A spokesperson for the school told Tatler: ‘The concept of moving to full co-education has been a long-term strategic intention, accelerated by the arrival of new Heads Gary Savage and Kate Jefferson. At present serious planning is underway to introduce full co-education in the period ahead. Although no dates are yet confirmed, we look forward to reaching the point at which we can make this significant change to our school, enabling any child who would flourish here to be able to come, irrespective of gender’. 

The spokesperson added: ‘The diversity of our school community today reflects twenty-first century London, indeed the world — with the single exception that we currently only educate boys to the age of 16. This is the key driver for change.’

It comes a year after a report titled ‘A Review into Harmful Sexual Behaviours at Westminster School and Recommendations for the Future’ was published that noted the benefits of the school becoming co-educational. 

Eton College, which is rumoured to be considering going co-ed

Amanda Lewis/Getty Images

It noted that ‘a considerable number of interviewees amongst pupils and staff commented that both male and female pupils joining the Sixth Form from single sex environments may, in some cases, be naïve and may have had limited experience of interacting with the opposite sex in an academic setting. Some staff felt that sixteen was the most challenging age at which to make a single sex school co-educational.’

The report also said that ‘if the School were to make the move to fully co-educational that would present a perfect opportunity within which to achieve the wholesale cultural change which this report recommends.’ Following the publication of the report, Headmaster Dr Gary Savage issued a ‘sincere and unreserved’ apology for the hurt caused.

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Westminster is not the first all-boys public school to welcome girls: Marlborough College, known for its former alumni the Princess of Wales, became fully co-educational in 1989. More recently, in 2021, Charterhouse opened its doors to girls, whilst Winchester College allowed girls to join its sixth-form in September 2022. The Shrewsbury School also started accepting girls in 2015. It was recently reported that Eton is considering following the same course of action.