Like many schools with an Elizabethan Foundation, Aldenham began life as a single sex school with a requirement to educate only boys. However, the last thirty five years has seen a steady introduction of girls into the School so that we now offer a coeducational programme that is attractive to many parents in the 21st Century. Around a third of the pupils at Aldenham are now girls and we have thought carefully about the best structures for them within the overall programme.
The essential benefit of coeducation is recognised all over the world, which is that the opportunities within school can mirror those in life beyond school where men and women will need to compete on equal footings and with a range of skills. We believe that the atmosphere within Aldenham reflects this well with a wide variety of opportunities for boys and girls which would not necessarily exist in a single sex school. There is plenty of evidence that a coeducational classroom is an ideal place for learning for both boys and girls and that the differing learning styles of each gender can be enhanced by the presence of the other gender in their classroom.
We also believe that the move to coeducation has endorsed the sense of an Aldenham education as an education within an overall family. Indeed almost one hundred families currently have brothers and sisters in the school together. However, we have been thoughtful about the best structures to support boys and girls in pastoral terms and offer a structure for house and tutorial arrangements which we believe works well.
Children joining the School in Year 7 at 11+ join our junior house, Martineau’s, which is organised into mixed tutorial groups of around 20 pupils. Each tutorial group consists of boys and girls in a proportion which exactly reflects the proportions in the year group as a whole. Within Martineau’s we have also created our mixed junior boarding house with excellent facilities for up to 16 boys and 9 girls to board each week.
From Year 9 upwards we have felt that the best pastoral structure is to offer boys and girls the chance to be part of single sex houses for the remainder of their time with us. This gives us the opportunity to reflect upon the differing needs of boys and girls as they progress through their middle teenage years in terms of focus, motivation and organisation.
In the Sixth Form, when a large number of girls always join us from single sex schools, the students continue in their boys’ and girls’ houses, but the Sixth Form Centre offers an ideal coeducational space for socialisation and shared opportunities.