The phased-in move to full co-education from September 2018

The phased-in move to full co-education from September 2018

We are delighted to announce plans to extend our co-educational provision: the School is presently co-educational up to the age of 7 and girls only from 7 to 11. From September 2018 The Manor will phase in co-education up to the age of 11 so that more families can benefit from all that the School has to offer.
 
The change will be phased in gradually over 4 years from September 2018 and will be completed by September 2021. The move to co-education is in response to the demands and desires of parents who are increasingly seeking an excellent family school that will serve both their sons and their daughters.  
 
The Manor’s much-loved aims, ethos and values will remain unchanged.  Research has shown that The Manor’s warm-hearted culture where boys and girls in its care are ‘challenged and cherished’ is highly valued. The wonderfully happy, creative atmosphere has been central to The Manor for over 100 years and will remain so.  
 
Co-education at The Manor will mean an even wider range of clubs and activities for all children. The completion of a new Sports Hall in September 2018 will further enhance the exceptional sporting provision already in place.
 
This is a wonderfully exciting time for the future of The Manor. The School achieves extraordinary results thanks to its focus on teaching with pride, passion and positive expectations. The Manor is delighted that from September 2018 it will be able to keep families together until the age of 11 and prepare both boys and girls to secure their future at leading senior schools.
 
The Manor is accepting registrations now for boys to enter Year 3 in September 2018, as well as accepting registrations for boys currently aged 2 to 6, space permitting.  For availability of places or information regarding admissions please contact Mrs Karen Copson, Director of Admissions and Communications, on 01235 858462 or admissions@manorprep.org.
 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why has the School decided to make these changes?
A: For some time the School has become increasingly aware that its parent demographic trend is changing. This reflects that in the past 25 years the percentage of co-educational independent schools in the UK has risen from 55% to 81%. It is clear that our prospective parents are increasingly seeking a family prep school that can serve both their sons and their daughters. Indeed many current parents tell us that they wish their sons could stay at The Manor beyond the age of 7. 
 
In taking this decision to extend the co-educational provision to 11, we are responding to the significant demand identified by the Governors and the desire for a school that serves the local community and modern family life. The Manor is a very special place, one which aims to challenge and cherish its pupils and encourage them to achieve high standards; we believe this move will continue to strengthen the School’s ability to meet these aims for both girls and boys whilst making the benefits of a Manor education available to more pupils and families.
 
Q: What are the benefits of extending the co-educational provision to age 11?
A: There are many benefits of co-education, which already impact positively on The Manor pupils up to the age of 7. In extending the co-educational provision to 11, the existing academic, social and developmental benefits, which ensure that children are prepared for their futures in a co-educational world, will become more firmly embedded. 
 
Co-education for younger children improves academic standards through girls and boys bringing complementary skills and ways of thinking to lessons with mutual benefit.
 
On the extra-curricular side, co-education will mean an even wider range of clubs and activities from which to choose, as well as obvious benefits in music, drama, debating and cultural trips, many of which will be enriched by the presence of both genders. Our very strong sporting performance will grow and enable many new opportunities for all the children. 
 
Q: How will this affect my child?
A: We are phasing in the change gradually over 4 years from September 2018 to ensure that girls who are used to being taught in a single-sex environment will continue to learn in single-sex classes for the remainder of their time at The Manor. Boys currently in Year 1 and below will no longer have to leave us at the end of Year 2. 
 

The table below, where blue shading denotes co-educational classes, is designed to demonstrate how the co-educational provision will be phased in over time until every year group has both boys and girls in September 2021. We are accepting registrations for boys into the year groups in blue below.

September
2017 
 September
2018
September
2019
September
2020
September
2021 
         Pre Nursery 
       Pre Nursery   Nursery
     Pre Nursery   Nursery  Reception
   Pre Nursery   Nursery  Reception  Year 1
 Pre Nursery   Nursery  Reception  Year 1  Year 2
 Nursery  Reception  Year 1  Year 2  Year 3
 Reception  Year 1  Year 2  Year 3  Year 4
 Year 1  Year 2  Year 3  Year 4  Year 5
 Year 2  Year 3  Year 4  Year 5  Year 6
 Year 3  Year 4  Year 5  Year 6  
 Year 4  Year 5  Year 6    
 Year 5  Year 6      
 Year 6        
Q: Who has taken this decision and how was it made?
A: As part of their ongoing responsibilities as custodians of The Manor, the Governors have been discussing the future strategic direction of the School, including extending the co-educational provision to age 11. 
 
The Governors examined the proposal in considerable detail and invested in market research with external consultants to assess the market demand prior to making any decisions. 
 
Once the decision was taken, external consultants with extensive experience in such transitions were invited in to advise the School. Members of the board and leadership team also consulted with and visited other schools that have travelled similar paths to ensure best practice.
 
Q: Will this change the School’s aims, ethos and values?
A: We cannot stress strongly enough that the much-loved aims, ethos and values, which have been established for over a hundred years, will remain unchanged. We know from research that our warm-hearted culture of challenging and cherishing the boys and girls in our care is highly valued. The wonderfully happy and creative atmosphere is central to The Manor, and will remain so under the new Head. 
 
In extending the co-educational provision we are ensuring that boys will be able to benefit from this warm-hearted culture throughout their prep school education instead of having to leave at the end of Year 2. Our published aims, ethos, hopes and ambitions for every child at The Manor will not change. Beaming children, laughter, happiness and self-confidence will continue to be essential ingredients of school life at The Manor.
 
Q: Will this change academic standards?
A: The Manor achieves extraordinary results, despite being a non-selective school, thanks to our focus on teaching with pride, passion and positive expectations. We strive to ensure that the children develop a love of learning and make the very most of their abilities. This change is about extending these benefits to boys so that they can join the girls in accessing the leading senior schools in the country.
 
It is significant to note that every teacher at The Manor has previous co-educational teaching experience so will be able to apply this to ensure that the exceptionally high level of teaching is maintained. In addition though, we will be running a series of specialist in-service training sessions to ensure we are fully prepared. 
 
The experiences of other schools moving to co-education is that girls and boys up to the age of 11 bring complementary skills and ways of thinking to lessons with mutual benefit, offering a far broader discussion which impacts positively on academic standards.
 
Q: Will class sizes go up?
A: No. Class sizes will remain capped at 20.
 
Q: How many pupils will there be in the School in the future?
A: The Manor will continue to be a wonderfully warm-hearted, relatively small community where individuals are known, challenged and cherished. There will be a slight increase in size to maintain the high standards of sport by ensuring sufficient numbers of boys and girls for team sports. However, caps on class sizes will remain unchanged to maintain the high academic standards we offer.
 
Q: How will sports be affected? What will the provision be for boys?
A: Older pupils will, of course, be taught separately in the major sports. The Manor has a very strong sporting reputation which we fully intend to safeguard as the School extends its co-educational provision. To this end, we are investing in a Sports Hall, catering for both genders, which is planned for completion by September 2018. Our sports staff already has extensive co-educational experience, and we will also be appointing a Head of Boys’ PE to work alongside the Head of Girls’ PE and oversee boys’ sports and fixtures. 
 
Q: What about the extra-curricular provision, how will that be affected?
A: The extra-curricular provision contributes greatly to the refreshingly stimulating and colourful environment at The Manor and provides many additional opportunities for the children to shine. Our extra-curricular programme of activities and clubs, already popular with our existing boys, is being reviewed to ensure an even wider range of clubs and activities is available for all pupils from September 2018.
 
Q: How will the facilities be developed and amended for boys?
A: Many appropriate facilities are already in place, since we already cater for boys up to the age of 7. Additional boys’ toilets and changing facilities have been catered for in our planning, and we are already researching how best to meet the identified need for additional outdoor play space. The curriculum is being reviewed to ensure it caters as well for boys as it does for girls. All classrooms and teaching facilities and supplies will also be reviewed and upgraded as appropriate to meet the needs of a co-educational school. Equally importantly, all new facilities outlined in the ten-year building plan will be developed with both genders in mind.
 
Q: Will there be sufficient role models for boys?
A: We envisage that the percentage of male teachers will grow over time. This is the norm when schools become fully co-educational since there are more male applicants to co-educational schools than to all girls’ schools. 
 
Q: Will there be an impact on the learning environment?
A: Today’s exceptionally high standards will remain in place. All our teaching staff are experienced in managing boys and girls together, and we are deliberately phasing in the extension gradually; this will ensure that girls who are used to being taught in a single-sex environment will continue to learn in single-sex classes.
 
Q: Has a boys’ uniform been designed?
A: The boys’ uniform is currently in development. Any changes that are made to the existing boys’ uniform will be introduced gradually to avoid unnecessary expense.
 
Q: Will this move have any impact on fees?
A: No. The School has carried out detailed financial modelling as part of this process; conservative estimates have been used so there will be no extra fee increase as a result of the decision.
 
Q: Is this why the Head is leaving?
A: No, the two matters are unconnected. It has long been Piers’ intention to retire at the end of this academic year after 25 years of Headship. He is totally committed to the extension of the co-educational provision and is actively supporting the Governors in their planning. Piers has kindly offered to stay longer, if necessary, to ensure a smooth transition and comprehensive handover to his successor. The Governors have engaged a recruitment firm to help them with this important appointment, which will be advertised imminently.
 
Q: Why was this news not shared sooner?
A: It is the Governors’ responsibility, as custodians of The Manor for future generations, to set the future strategic direction of the School. Whilst we were able to share our ten-year building plan, which supports this decision, our detailed strategic plans needed to be researched, agreed and finalised before they could be shared. We are delighted to be in a position to share this good news now that the decision has been taken and all plans are agreed and in place. 
 
Q: How will this strengthen the School’s future?
A: Clearly, as the financial accounts testify, the School reliably generates a healthy surplus. In fact, this September saw record pupil numbers at The Manor. We are, therefore, taking this decision from a position of strength to safeguard our school in a changing market and to guarantee continued financial health for future generations of staff, pupils and parents. By responding to the demands of our prospective parents, the opportunities and benefits of a Manor education will be available to more pupils and families which will only strengthen and cement the School’s already strong position.
 
Q: Will staff be affected?
A: Having a talented, motivated and passionate staff has always been a central tenet of The Manor. We intend for the School to remain a warm-hearted community providing an attractive working environment. Existing class size caps will remain to ensure that our high standards continue. Although all teaching staff have previous co-educational experience, additional training will be provided to support staff as we transition to becoming fully co-educational. Furthermore, all classrooms and teaching facilities and supplies will be reviewed and upgraded as appropriate to meet the needs of a co-educational school. 
 
Q: How will this affect our relationship as part of the 4 Schools?
A: We have strong relationships with the other Abingdon Schools and these will continue in the future. Our decision does not alter this relationship; indeed by extending our co-educational provision to 11 we are better serving the needs and demands of local families choosing the Abingdon Schools.
 
Q: As a current parent, how can I find out more and to whom can I talk about the changes?
A: Piers Heyworth and Shaun Forrestal, the Chair of Governors, will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the move. Please call Piers’ PA, Mrs Nicole Burroughs on 01235 858479 or email headspa@manorprep.org to book an appointment.
 
Q: As a prospective parent who can I talk to and when can I visit? 
A: Please contact Mrs Karen Copson, the Director of Admissions and Communications. She would be delighted to answer any questions you have and to arrange a visit. She can be contacted on 01235 858462 or admissions@manorprep.org.
 
We also have a number of Open Day events scheduled throughout the year at which you would be most welcome:
 
Friday 20th January 2017, 09.30 – 11.30am
Friday 10th March 2017, 09.30 – 11.30am
Friday 5th May 2017, 09.30 - 11.30am
Friday 9th June 2017, 09.30 – 11.30am