Palmerston North's private girls' school Carncot is going co-ed.
From the beginning of next year, boys aged five to nine will be welcome to tag along behind their sisters.
The independent school was founded in 1903, and boys learnt alongside girls until 1980.
Board of Trustees chairman Rodney Wong said the decision to reopen the gates to boys again was a response to demand from parents.
The school has capacity to spare, with room for 170 pupils since its total rebuild in 1998, and it has a roll of fewer than 100.
The Stanford Junior Preparatory School for Boys and Girls at Carncot School will be the official title, recalling the name of Carncot founder Constance Stanford.
"We have been asked by parents for a number of years to accept their sons, after they have seen the benefits for their daughters.
"There is no private education for young boys in Palmerston North."
Huntley School is available for boys from Year 4 onwards. Carncot starts at Year 1.
"We believe the first three years at school define students' attitudes to learning for the rest of their lives," Mr Wong said.
Principal Christine Michalski said she, the staff and girls were excited about the change.
"The year 8 girls are saying they wished they were staying to see this happen, and the others are looking forward to looking after the boys under our ‘little buddy' system."
Some of the first intake of boys would be the brothers of girls already at the school.
Their parents were looking to provide a similar education for both their sons and their daughters, to be fair, and also wanted the convenience of having all the children at one school, she said.
One of the first boys to enrol is likely to be Aaric Prasitdamrong, a six-year-old now at College St Normal School, whose two big sisters are at Carncot.
Though Mrs Michalski agreed that girls did better academically at single-sex high schools, she believed boys and girls would thrive together in the junior years.
She expected to begin with about 10 boys in the first year, who would start in the junior classes and progress through to year 6.
A decision on whether to include boys once they reached year 7 and 8 - the intermediate school years - was yet to be made.
There will be an information evening for parents interested in Sandford for their sons on Wednesday, September 26, at 7pm at Carncot School in Broadway Ave.
- Manawatu Standard
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