The 160-year-old boys’ school that’s now going co-ed

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One of Sydney’s oldest private boys’ schools, Newington College in Stanmore, will become a fully co-educational campus for kindergarten to 12 within the decade.

In a letter to parents and announcement to staff on Monday, school chairman Tony McDonald said the board’s decision for the college to shift to co-education was unanimous, and that the transition to admit female students would be gradual, starting with primary years.

Newington College, in Sydney’s inner west, will become fully co-educational within a decade.Credit: Steven Siewert

It follows the decision by another historic high-fee private boys school, Cranbrook, which has also admitted only boys for more than a century, announcing its move to co-ed by 2026.

McDonald said Newington would admit girls at its primary school campuses at Stanmore and Lindfield in kindergarten and year 5 from 2026. The first girls will join the senior campus in 2028 in year 7 and year 11, with the college becoming fully co-educational by 2033.

“We believe this decision is best for the long-term future of Newington, and especially the futures of each of the young people we educate now, as well as those students who will join us in the years to come,” McDonald said in the letter to parents.

The school first put the idea to its community in February 2022, along with a proposal to make the school more culturally and socio-economically diverse.

McDonald said the decision was made after the school ran a third-party consultation, workshops with current students, research into alumni sentiments about size and co-education facilitated by the old boys union and consultation with the Uniting Church and other private all-boys schools.

“The decision was made with a high degree of confidence in the ability to make Newington an even better school. It’s carefully staged so that we underwrite both our current and future direction,” he said.

“We undertook an extensive consultation, research and evidence-gathering exercise. We looked at how to retain our inclusiveness, the optimal size for the school, and whether co-ed was a preferable forward direction for the school.

“Of course, there was range of views and opinions during the consultation process – we’re a school that’s more than 160 years old, and we’re fortunate to have a vital, engaged community – and we believe we have the insights and the analysis that shows this is the right way forward for Newington College. We’re really grateful for all the input we received.”

Newington, opened by the Methodist church in 1863, is a member of the Athletics Association of Great Public Schools, a historic sporting association of boys’ schools, which also includes Sydney Grammar School, the King’s School and Scots College. It is the second GPS school after The Armidale School to become co-ed.

Four Sydney Catholic schools in the inner-west, Maroubra and north shore have shifted to co-ed in recent years, while Barker College became fully co-ed last year.

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