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Should boys and girls be taught separately? The all-girl Ipswich High School gets male students as it adopts diamond-model teaching

PUBLISHED: 20:04 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 20:13 12 September 2018

The boys and girls study together in prepatory school and Sixth Form but are spearated into separate genders to learn during high school. Picture: IPSWICH HIGH SCHOOL

The boys and girls study together in prepatory school and Sixth Form but are spearated into separate genders to learn during high school. Picture: IPSWICH HIGH SCHOOL

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It is a great start to the term at Ipswich High as the first boys ever to attend the institution settle into life at the independent school.

Interview with Oona Carlin, head of Ipswich High School, the former Ipswich High School for Girls which will become a co-educational school in September 2018. Picture: GREGG BROWNInterview with Oona Carlin, head of Ipswich High School, the former Ipswich High School for Girls which will become a co-educational school in September 2018. Picture: GREGG BROWN

There are now 16 boys in attendance in the private Suffolk school - four in the Sixth Form and 12 in the prepatory school - in an institution that has exclusively been attended by girls since it was founded in 190 years ago.

The first cohort of boys will join the high school, starting in Year 7, from September 2019.

Headteacher Oona Carlin said: “It’s been an incredible start and almost ‘business as usual’ - the boys have integrated really well.

“Since we announced that we are becoming co-ed, there has been huge interest from parents of boys, particularly those who see value in our ‘best of both worlds’, diamond-model approach.

The boys are settling in well into life at the newly named Ipswich High School, which has accepted buys into its classes for the first time. PictureL IPSWICH HIGH SCHOOLThe boys are settling in well into life at the newly named Ipswich High School, which has accepted buys into its classes for the first time. PictureL IPSWICH HIGH SCHOOL

“We truly believe the school’s ethos, teaching and enrichment programme will benefit boys as much as it benefits girls.”

Previously a private girls’ school, boys will now learn alongside girls in up to age 11 and in Sixth Form, but learn in single-gender classes for their secondary school education.

This method of teaching is called the ‘diamond model’ and Ipswich High School is the first school in Suffolk to implement it.

It is designed to get the benefits of coeducation for students and also acknowledging that boys and girls respond better to different styles of teaching during the secondary school-phase of their studies.

Interview with Oona Carlin, head of Ipswich High School, the former Ipswich High School for Girls which will become a co-educational school in September 2018. Picture: GREGG BROWNInterview with Oona Carlin, head of Ipswich High School, the former Ipswich High School for Girls which will become a co-educational school in September 2018. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ms Carlin added: “We are extremely confident and very excited about this new era.

“The diamond-model is much acclaimed and I feel very strongly that this is a great opportunity for our pupils, for their learning and their development.

“We have chosen this diamond model because we believe it has the right level of integrating between students to get the best results for both.

The announcement exactly 12 months ago to let boys attend the school this year was met with a strong backlash from a cohort of parents, with some describing the decision was “devastating”.

Interview with Oona Carlin, head of Ipswich High School, the former Ipswich High School for Girls which will become a co-educational school in September 2018. Picture: GREGG BROWNInterview with Oona Carlin, head of Ipswich High School, the former Ipswich High School for Girls which will become a co-educational school in September 2018. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Since then Ms Carlin has gained growing support from the same parents and she attributes the successful start to the year to the hard work of her staff.

Ms Carlin said: “They all got on board with the plan right away, we have had one of the lowest staff turnovers this year and I can’t thank my team enough.”

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