Ipswich High School for Girls changes name to Ipswich High School and will accept boys from 2018
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Suffolk is losing its only all-girls mainstream school after Ipswich High School for Girls announced a raft of major changes this evening.
The independent school, founded in 1878 and based in Woolverstone, has been renamed Ipswich High School with immediate effect and will start admitting boys for the first time in September 2018.
The phased changes will also include a “start-of-the-art” boarding facility, as the school transfers its ownership from Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) to Ipswich Education Ltd, led by London & Oxford Group, founded by Swiss corporation bankers and backed by China Wanda Group, whose assets total around £6bn.
There will be no changes to the school’s leadership team. Oona Carlin will continue as head and John Pickering remains as chair of governors.
Ms Carlin declared herself “extremely confident about the proposed new era” and described the changes as “very exciting”.
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She said: “I recognise, as do all of my leadership team, that this news will come as a surprise to parents, pupils, and our wider community, so we are absolutely committed to ensuring that we move forward gradually and with sensitivity. Our absolute priority is continuity for our existing girls.
“We are, therefore, doing everything possible to introduce this next chapter with a dedication to continuity and with strong communication between ourselves and those who are currently committed to the school.”
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Around 630 students aged three to 18 currently attend the school, which will gradually move to a diamond model of education. Under the model, girls and boys are educated together in the junior years, then taught separately in key subjects for a number of years, and merge back together at sixth form.
Boys will be introduced in September 2018 for some year groups, including Woodland Pre-Prep, through to Year 6, and then in Year 12.
Families will be able to consider a residential option at the school’s new state-of-the-art boarding facility.
Fees per-term range from £2,852 to £4,658 for 2017/18.
Ms Carlin added: “The diamond model is much acclaimed and we feel very strongly that this is a great opportunity for our pupils, for their learning and development, and for the potential it grants us in terms of ongoing investment in our teaching, our facilities, and our wider learning and social environment.”
Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of GDST, said “The decision to transfer Ipswich High School to Ipswich Education has been taken in the long-term best interests of the school and students.
“We have undertaken a rigorous process in making this decision and are confident Ipswich Education will continue to provide a seamless first-class education experience for girls already studying at Ipswich High School, and that their approach will build on the school’s traditions and values.
“The GDST will do everything possible to support the transition to Ipswich Education.”
Paul Newton, chairman of Ipswich Education Ltd, said: “Ipswich High School is a wonderful school, in a stunning setting, with an outstanding track record. We are determined to preserve the history, culture and values of the school.
“We look forward to working very closely with Oona Carlin and her team.”
Mr Pickering added: “The board of governors is extremely confident about the future of Ipswich High School under the new ownership and we are very excited about what this represents for new and existing pupils.
“We are delighted that Ipswich Education will be making substantial investments in the school.”