AN INDEPENDENT school for girls is set to accept boys for the first time in its nearly 300-year history. 

Godolphin School, on Milford Hill, has announced it is to be taken over by the United Learning group, and will transition to a "co-educational model". 

Letters, seen by the Journal, were sent to parents and guardians earlier this month, before an "information forum" was held at the school on Friday evening (November 24). 

A disgruntled parent who wished to remain anonymous attended the forum, and told the Journal: “The governors are completely naïve as to what will happen.

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"Once contracts are signed in February 2024, United Learning will have complete control of Godolphin and all assets. Godolphin School has an extremely good reputation but once United Learning take over this will be lost.”

Salisbury Journal: Godolphin is set to admit boys for the first time in its nearly 300-year historyGodolphin is set to admit boys for the first time in its nearly 300-year history (Image: Newsquest)

A spokesperson for the school said it "does not recognise" that financial position, but the letter from Godolphin’s Chairman of Governors Sir Nick Pope, addressed to parents and guardians, made it clear that "the sector faces uncertain times" due to "tough economic forecasts and associated cost of living implications, and potential VAT pressures on schools", among other reasons. 

The spokesperson added that the gradual move to co-education is partially in response to "parental demand and has been received well by the overwhelming majority of the school community".

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The school has been an all-girls school since its founding in 1726 and educates pupils from the ages of three to 18, with fees ranging from £2,980 per term for pre-prep to £13,340 per term for full-boarded UK students and £15,395 per year for international students.

Starting in September 2024, Godolphin Prep will welcome both boys and girls across all year groups. Godolphin Senior will offer a co-education from September 2025.

Salisbury Journal: Sir Nick Pope, Chairman of Governors at GodolphinSir Nick Pope, Chairman of Governors at Godolphin (Image: Godolphin School)

Sir Nick Pope added: "Our move towards co-education is a response to strong demand from local families, reaffirming our unwavering commitment to educational excellence.

"In recognition of a world that values gender equality and collaboration, we are proud to be the only day and boarding independent school in Salisbury offering co-education, for 3 to 19 years.”

Salisbury Journal: Jenny Price, Head teacher at Godolphin SchoolJenny Price, Head teacher at Godolphin School (Image: Newsquest)

Jenny Price, Head of Godolphin added, "This decision marks a pivotal moment in Godolphin's history. Our founder, Elizabeth Godolphin looked to the future in her commitment to the education of girls.

"By extending our welcome to boys, we aim to enrich our school community with a broader range of perspectives, talents, and experiences. We look forward to an exciting future for Godolphin as it looks to write the next chapter in its proud history.”

The consolidation of Godolphin with United Learning which will become effective on Thursday, February 1, 2024.

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This decision, the school says, is driven by several factors.

It told the Journal: "The Governors believe [the takeover] will significantly enhance the quality and sustainability of education at Godolphin, accessing a network of educators, sharing best practices and resources.  As a charity operating a group of schools, United Learning will provide Godolphin with a secure future, ensuring that the school can continue to invest in facilities and educational resources to benefit Godolphin and their students; while also providing a future for education and jobs in Salisbury."

Chief Executive of United Learning, Sir Jon Coles said: "As a group with a strong track record of running successful schools across the country, we are particularly pleased to be welcoming a school with such high expectations, strong ambitions and long-standing traditions as Godolphin into our family.”