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CO-EDUCATION
CONSULTATION

Fort Pitt Grammar School consultation on converting to Co-Educational status and September 2025 determined admissions arrangements.

 

Consultation procedures and stakeholders

In December 2023, Fort Pitt Grammar School carried out a consultation on converting the school to a co-educational establishment. Documents relating to the consultation process were sent to stakeholders on 30th November 2023 with the consultation running from 1st December 2023 to 12th January 2024.

 

The consultation consisted of two questions with the opportunity to answer yes, no or no preference.

 

Consultation 1: Do you support the proposal for Fort Pitt Grammar School to become a co-educational establishment from September 2025?

Consultation 2: Do you support the proposal for Fort Pitt Grammar School to change its admission arrangements, to admit male students in Year 7 from September 2025?

The consultation process consisted of the following:

  • Information letter and the proposed September 2025 admission arrangements sent to all secondary schools, primary schools, colleges, educational trusts and nurseries in Medway. This information was also sent to Local Authorities and some dioceses in the south east of England. Please see the distribution list below.

  • Publication of proposed determined admissions arrangements published on the school website.

  • An information evening was held on Wednesday 13th December (4:30 to 5:30pm). Paul Clarke (Strategic Head of Education for Medway) was in attendance.

  • Student Voice conducted to gather views of year groups impacted by the potential change.

 

Stakeholders

The following stakeholders were consulted on the proposed changes:

  • Parents and carers of current Fort Pitt students

  • Parents and carers of other secondary schools within Medway

  • Parents and carers of primary schools within Medway

  • Parents and carers of nurseries and pre-schools within Medway

  • Schools and nurseries from Local Authorities beyond Medway (see distribution list below)

  • Others, including local colleges, school trusts and dioceses.

 

Responses to Consultation

Given the scope of the consultation the level of response was very low. The response from current parents/carers at Fort Pitt was around 5%. It is not possible to calculate the percentage responses from stakeholders beyond Fort Pitt Grammar School, but these would stand at a very low percentage of the population consulted.

Given the low number of responses, the responses detailed below cannot be used to represent the views and opinions of the entire population consulted and hence a decision on the proposal should not be based on these outcomes as they are not statistically significant enough to draw an overall conclusion. Likewise, the views and opinions of stakeholders who chose not to respond cannot be inferred either for or against the proposal.

Summary of responses to the consultations and how these will be managed by school to ensure concerns are addressed and strategies are implemented to mitigate against these concerns.

The responses above and some of the associated comments are based on the views and opinions of the stakeholders concerned. They do not necessarily represent factual statements but nonetheless provide the school with key areas of concern to address when implementing the changes.

In summarising the responses to the consultation, they broadly fell into the following areas:

  • Potential impact to school choices across Medway.

  • Potential impact on Educational Standards at Fort Pitt Grammar School

  • Potential impact on Personal Development of students and wider extra-curricular opportunities.

  • Potential impact on girls when converting to co-educational status.

  • Potential impact on safeguarding students when converting to co-educational status.

  • Potential impact on religious communities when converting to co-educational status.

  • Whilst the consultation responses were low, the majority parents and carers of current Fort Pitt Students who did respond were against the proposed change. However, parents and carers of students at Medway Primary Schools were more in favour. The latter group would be most impacted by the change in view of the fact that those students will potentially be choosing Fort Pitt as a school from September 2025.

 

Responses in support of the proposed change to co-educational status

The following provides a summarised list of reasons provided by stakeholders in support of the proposed changes. Please note that these statements generalise the views of the stakeholders and should not be considered as factual statements.

  • The change will improve access to selective schools for students across Medway.

  • The change will increase the number of selective school places in Medway.

  • The change will ease pressure on the non-selective schools in Medway.

  • The change will address the low educational attainment in Medway.

  • The change will make the admission process fairer to boys and girls.

  • The change allows for continuity from mixed primary schools to mixed secondary schools.

  • Co-educational environments are more representative of what students will face post 16.

  • Co-educational environments help promote positive personal development towards a mixed gender society and social skills.

  • The change will improve access in terms of distance and travel.

  • The change will provide children with the same good level of education that is already available at their primary school.

  • The change will mean more selective school places to Medway students and less to out of area students.

 

Responses in opposition to the proposed change to co-educational status

The following provides a summarised list of reasons provided by stakeholders against the proposed changes. Please note that these statements generalise the views of the stakeholders and should not be considered as factual statements.

 

Concerns regarding impacts on educational standards

  • Students achieve better results when genders are segregating and girls fair less well in co-educational environments.

  • Single sex schools provide more focused teaching styles.

  • Educational Standards could be impacted if admissions include students unable to cope with the demands of grammar school.

  • Girls perform better in single sex schools.

  • Introduction of boys will present an unwanted distraction which will impact on learning and attainment.

  • There are already enough spaces for boys at Grammar Schools in Medway.

 

School’s response to concerns

There are no reliable studies to show that girls fair better in single sex grammar schools in comparison to mixed grammar schools. Progress 8 scores across Kent and Medway show a wide range of performance levels in both mixed and single-sex grammar schools. Fort Pitt has maintained outstanding levels of teaching and learning since 2009. In 2022, Ofsted described Fort Pitt as “a remarkable place to learn”. The boys joining Fort Pitt will academically be at selective standard and will benefit from the high level of challenge and behaviour management currently offered by the school. This will be further enhanced by training for all staff to ensure that they are prepared for the transition to mixed gender teaching. Currently, a number of grammar school places are offered to out of area students. By increasing the number of boys eligible for selective education from Medway, in terms of equality the same must happen to the number of girls eligible, overall increasing the total number of both boys and girls eligible for a Grammar School place in Medway. This will be achieved by adjustments to the Medway Test pass mark, allowing more Medway students to pass the test.

Concerns regarding impact on safeguarding and the personal safety and development of girls

  • Due to the underlying sexism in society, it is a shame to remove a safe space for teenage girls.

  • Single sex schools allow students to be with friends without any intimidation.

  • Single sex schools present less preconceptions about gender typical subjects, such as Physics.

  • Is important to remove distractions to allow students to work with similar abilities, behaviour and interests.

  • Converting to co-educational invites sexual harassment into the school.

  • The immaturity of boys will have an adverse effect on girls learning and personal development.

  • Introduction of boys will present an unwanted distraction, which will impact on learning and attainment.

  • It would be difficult for girls to adapt to having boys around the school.

  • The change could lead to a reduction in extra-curricular opportunities for girls.

 

School’s response to concerns

The most recent Ofsted Inspection stated that “The leaders have a thorough knowledge and understanding of how to keep students safe”. The current leadership and staff have all received extensive training on how to spot sexual harassment including online sexual harassment. It should be noted that single sex schools are not exempt from cases of sexual harassment or intimidation from peers. The school provides a safe space for all students, including boys who join us in the 6th Form. However, prior to converting to co-educational status, staff will receive enhanced training on these issues. The addition of boys will enhance and extend the curriculum with a greater range of subjects on offer as a result. In the case of Physics, this subject has not always been offered previously due to low uptake. The introduction of boys would increase the chances that this subject is offered. The majority of students joining in September 2025 would have already attended a mixed primary school. The impact of this change would be greater for current students. The school would carefully manage this in the lower school but also consider that boys have been admitted to our 6th Form for a number of years, and so already form part of our community. The introduction of boys would lead to an increase in extra-curricular opportunities with a wider range of activities and sports on offer to cater for a more diverse community.

Concerns that a co-educational setting goes against certain religious beliefs and practices.

  • The change is against my child’s religious preferences.

  • Due to our faith, we would prefer our child was not in a mixed gender school.

 

School’s response to concerns

Fort Pitt Grammar School is a non-denominational school. It caters for students of all religious beliefs, celebrating all faiths in a rich and diverse community. Its admission policy is inclusive and does not discriminate in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious or cultural backgrounds. The school will continue to offer the prayer room and observe and celebrate all religious holidays and traditions.

CO-EDUCATION CONSULTATION
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