- to promote excellence in all areas, and to develop each pupil’s abilities and character to the full
- to provide academic teaching and to foster learning and scholarship of the highest quality together with a wide range of cultural, sporting and extra-curricular activities
- to promote a purposeful and disciplined atmosphere, in which boys and girls are encouraged to achieve their full potential, staff can find vocational fulfilment in their careers, and all can use their talents for the greater good of our community and for society as a whole
- to nurture an awareness of spiritual and moral values
- to recognize each member of the School community as unique, with talents to develop and a contribution to make.
Within those aims, the School also tries to maintain a population of children from a variety of backgrounds. It will admit pupils, not solely on academic ability but with a range of qualities, abilities and talents, who can make a real contribution to the success and welfare of the School in many different ways.
The introduction of coeducation is the most significant development in the history of Colfe’s since we went independent in 1977. Coeducation defines the ethos of the 21st century school more significantly than any other factor and permeates all that we do.
- We believe firmly that boys and girls who are educated together will be more successful in a world which requires men and women to live together and work together. This is not controversial.
- We know from experience that coeducational classes benefit hugely from male and female perspectives. This is most obvious in the humanities: to study Romeo and Juliet or the 4th book of Virgil’s Aeneid through an exclusively male or female perspective would be, to us, a manifestly strange thing to do; but the scientific subjects also benefit, not least because the ethical dimension is ever-present.
- Just over one third of our pupils are girls and fifty per cent of our teachers are female. The senior management team consists of four men and four women. Role models for both genders are plentiful, both in the staff room and the Sixth Form common room.
Myths and Misconceptions
Parents and friends will not be surprised that we take exception to a number of myths which are frequently propagated as truths by the minority of independent schools which remain steadfastly single-sex.
- Myth 1: girls get better results in single-sex schools. Untrue: the most reputable academic research on this matter (http://wordpress.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/hmcsscd.pdf) has established that there is no advantage, per se, deriving from the gender balance of a school. Our experience at Colfe’s bears this out: 91% of A level grades achieved by Colfe’s girls last summer were graded A*-B. This compares favourably with most single-sex girls’ schools in the independent sector, some of which are highly selective.
- Myth 2: girls get distracted by boys in coeducational schools. Possibly true, but irrelevant: children get distracted by all sorts of things; and boys are just as likely to get distracted as girls, possibly more so. One of the key characteristics of a good school, regardless of its gender mix, is to ensure that pupils retain their academic focus through the storms of adolescence. This is primarily a function of pastoral care, which can be good or bad in schools which cater for girls, boys or both. At Colfe’s, pastoral care has been identified as a key strength in every inspection report in living memory.
- Myth 3: girls don’t opt for science in coeducational schools. Untrue, according to our excellent (female) head of Physics: our top academic students in recent years, including those who have won places to read Medicine and Oxbridge Science, have included a proportionate number of girls.
The number of coeducational schools in membership of HMC, the society which represents top independent schools nationally, has increased year on year for the last two decades for a good reason: coeducation works. It is by far the best way to prepare boys and girls for a world which contains men and women and acknowledged as such in most parts of the civilised world.