Private girls’ schools may be forced to close or go co-ed

  • 9th October 2023

Dr Helen Wright, former president of the Girls’ School Association and former head of St Mary’s Calne independent girls’ school in Wiltshire has warned private girls’ schools will be forced to closed if Labour charges VAT on fees, The Telegraph has reported,

Writing in Independent School Parent, Wright said girls’ schools are “particularly vulnerable to a rise in fees, risking closure because parents can no longer afford this additional cost”.

Wright added: “If you pore over the annual accounts of girls’ schools, you will find that their income is derived almost solely from parental fees. There are no magic money pots in girls’ schools – no mysterious benefactors, and no large legacies… Girls’ schools are also less likely to have a culture of giving from their old girls or alumnae – so are less likely to be able to call on their help in times of need.”

Wright said parents send their daughters to girls’ schools because they “recognise that a girls-only education can be enormously empowering”.

She added: “Forget the lazy, sexualised images of a St Trinian’s type institution which still exist in popular culture.

“If you visit a girls’ school today, you will find vibrant, engaging, uplifting communities which are strengthening the resilience and determination of our next generation of women – quite apart from enabling them to achieve some of the highest examination results in the country.

“Still today, girls are more likely to take up STEM subjects in girls’ schools than in other schools.”

Duncan Murphy, former head of Kingswood House School in Epsom, Surrey and director of education at MTM Consulting, said: “We’re seeing schools diversify in terms of increasingly move from single sex to co-education.”

The Kingsley School in Leamington Spa is a girls’ school that recently announced it was going co-ed, prompting almost 200 people to sign a petition calling on the school governors to reverse the decision.

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