Proposals for major change at Horsham school spark public debate

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Proposals for a major change at a Horsham school have sparked a public debate.

West Sussex County Council is considering proposals to switch the status of Millais School from all-girls to co-educational. It says the school has not reached its full 300-pupil intake for the past three years while nearby Forest School – which admitted girls for the first time nearly three years ago – has a shortage of boys’ places.

The council is now asking local residents to share their views through an online consultation. See: Meanwhile, many have taken to the West Sussex County Times Facebook page to comment on the proposed change – and opinion is divided.

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Former councillor Billy Greening described making Millais School co-educational as a ‘great idea’, adding: “Millais is well under capacity. Single sex schools are outdated – we need another secondary school anyway.”

Millais School in Horsham - should it stay all-girls or admit boys as well?Millais School in Horsham - should it stay all-girls or admit boys as well?
Millais School in Horsham - should it stay all-girls or admit boys as well?

Diana Ines agreed. “I say go Co Ed. There is a massive shortage for male students in our area.”

But Fran Smallridge queried: “Would this not just be a temporary fix for the problem? Houses are still being built so demand will continue to rise. They also need to build another secondary school near Southwater.”

Craig Woodford, who organised a petition last year for Millais to become co-educational, described the proposals as “great news. However, this was needed this time last year.”

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But others disagreed. Gaz Piper said: “Absolutely against this. Forest went Co-ed in a unilateral decision but failed to make any extra provisions or allow for extra spaces despite opening their doors to a larger population. The decision back then has caused the lack of places for boys.

“Allow Mallais to remain single sex and if you want the extra 300 spaces then build additional capacity within Forest, their decision should not ride rough-shod over the independence of Mallais School and the parents who want our daughters in the Millais environment.”

Annabel Morgan agreed: “The majority of studies I’ve read indicate that girls achieve better results in single sex settings whereas boys do better in mixed settings. Why should girls be disadvantaged?”

Kimberley Williams added: “Even for those who don't like the idea of single sex schools at least now there is a choice. Soon there won't be. Co- Ed for everyone.”

No decisions have yet been made.