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Community to Decide on Proposed Co-Ed School Change

By Joel Bevilacqua on January 29, 2019 in News

There is an appetite for more co-educational facilities in the area, by Ed Youkayshun

Plans to transform Randwick Boys’ High School into a co- educational school are speeding up with community consultation on the project currently underway.

Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith said the consultation was prompted by local Eastern Suburbs residents who expressed their desire for more public co-educational schools in the area.

“The people of Coogee have indicated to me that there is an appetite for more co-educational facilities in the area and that transforming Randwick Boys’ could help provide a solution,” Mr Notley-Smith said.

There is no shortage of single-sex private schools in the Eastern Suburbs. However, the only public co-ed option is Rose Bay Secondary College, which is currently full. Randwick Boys’, on the other hand, has been well below capacity for many years.

There has long been a push to merge Randwick Boys’ and Randwick Girls’ High School to meet community needs, but this has always been opposed by Randwick Girls’ parents. In this plan, Randwick Girls’ will remain a single-sex school.

Randwick Boys’ Principal Lance Raskall supports the co-ed option, as does the Randwick Boys’ High School Parents and Citizens Association.
Education Minister Rob Stokes said the decision to transform Randwick Boys’ into a co-educational high school will be strongly informed by the community’s preferences.

Members of the local community have until February 15 to have their say via an online survey found on the Department of Education’s homepage.
The survey asks respondents if they would be interested in sending their children to a co-educational Randwick school and whether current or potential students themselves would be interested in attending. It also asks what the Department needs to take into consideration if the proposal is approved.

Heather from Eastlakes, who has a son at Randwick Boys’, is against the proposal. She told The Beast she is worried girls will be a distraction.

“My son has thrived at the school with it just being a boys-only school and it’s the only public boys’ school in the area,” she said.

“I attended both co-ed and girls-only when I was at school and I found I concentrated more at the same sex school as there were no distractions and concentration was easier.”

Heather said she would consider moving her son if the changes went ahead, but hoped it would not come to that.

The single-sex school versus co-ed school debate is complex and parents trying to decide which school to send their child to often encounter conflicting advice.

“For every study that shows the advantages of single-sex education, there is another one showing the opposite,” read a statement from Randwick Boys’ P&C.

“The world we live in is co-ed and secondary schools all over the world reflect this.

“Parents in our catchment area are overwhelmingly looking at a comprehensive, co-ed high school for their children, who have spent seven years of primary schooling in such a learning environment.”

Mr Notley-Smith told The Beast he had consulted experts in an attempt to determine what affects the change might have on current students but admitted multiple conclusions meant this consultation had not been very helpful.

“What’s important to me is what the community has to say about it,” Mr Notley-Smith said.

A decision on the school’s future is expected to be made in the first half of 2019. Regardless of whether the proposal goes ahead, both Randwick Boys’ and Randwick Girls’ will be receiving significant infrastructural upgrades, for which scoping has already begun.