Site share not end of single sex schooling

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:30 04/07/2014
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The single-sex status of Marlborough Boys' College would not be diluted by co-sharing a site with Marlborough Girls' College, its principal says.

Wayne Hegarty assured parents that maintaining a single-sex education ethos was paramount, but co-location with the girls' college would future proof the school.

Speaking after Wednesday evening's public meeting on the future shape of secondary school education in Marlborough, Hegarty said parents had quizzed him on whether single-sex education would remain.

Marlborough Boys' College board of trustees did not support merging into a co-educational college, Hegarty said.

Their preference is two single-sex colleges on a single greenfield site with opportunities for some co-education classes. This option is estimated to cost the Ministry of Education $51.5 million.

"While there are pros and cons for both types of schooling I have seen excellence to degrees I have never experienced in co-ed schools in all facets of school life," Hegarty said.

Research had shown boys in single sex colleges outperformed boys in co-education colleges, Hegarty said. "Boys thrive in a single sex environment. Being in a single sex environment allows us to concentrate on every aspect of being a man in a non-judgmental, non-pressurised safe environment where there is no seeking the approval from girls."

A greenfield site would give the opportunity for the inclusion of a tertiary provider, Hegarty said.

Marlborough Boys' College site was constrained by its size.

"There is a big Ministry of Education push toward providing more relevant courses for [pupils] whose aspiration is work rather than university. We have courses in horticulture, construction and forestry for example, whose practical components are currently very constrained by site size. We end up with chainsaws cutting up wood near classrooms, garden sheds being built in a small easily vandalised area and horticulture operating in a very small area. We have the chance to provide for these activities with a site of suitable size."

There was potential for boarders and courses in horticulture and rowing and rugby academies within a greenfield site.

Parents must choose from three options: two single-sex colleges co-located on one site, retaining and maintaining the existing colleges or building a co-ed college.

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart said it was too early to say what the preferred option of parents was.

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After the meeting parents had questioned the details of a co-location site, including retaining the cultures of both colleges and the possibilities of sharing buildings on a single site, Stewart said.

"[Parents] want the best outcomes for their sons and daughters.

"There is the attraction of new buildings and new possibilities in terms of modern learning environments and opening up timetabling."

- Marlborough

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