'New chapter' for boys' school as girls set to be welcomed

Peter Harris, Birkdale School headmaster, speaking with Birkdale School pupils.
Peter Harris, Birkdale School headmaster, speaking with Birkdale School pupils.
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Since its foundation at the turn of the century, Birkdale School has taught scores of boys, including comedian, actor and writer Michael Palin.

Now the Sheffield independent school is about to embark on “a new chapter”, with the announcement that it will welcome girls from next year.

While the school currently welcomes female students in Sixth Form, it will become a co-educational school at every age, starting with the prep school - reception to Year 3 - in September 2020.

These co-educational classes will then continue through the prep and senior school, with the first senior co-educational year group launching in September 2024.

It comes in response to growing demand from current parents to allow both their sons and daughters into the school.

Peter Harris, headmaster of Birkdale School, said: “In 1995, we welcomed girls into our Sixth Form, and now we have decided they should be part of our entire family.

“We know change is never easy but we know change is vital. Birkdale has been one of Sheffield’s leading schools for over 100 years by continually evolving. We are about to open a new chapter in the school’s history and we are excited at the opportunities this brings for everyone within our school community, across Sheffield and beyond.”

Birkdale was founded in 1904 by Maurice Asterley as a preparatory school for boys between the ages of four and 13 to provide a Christian education, and takes its name from its first home, Birkdale House on Newbould Lane.

Paul Houghton, chair of governors, said: “We are delighted to be taking Birkdale forward in going fully co-educational.

Interestingly, our uniqueness has been much less about being a school primarily for boys, so the decision to take girls throughout the school has become a question of when, not if.”