Abingdon School has announced today that it is to admit girls.

It's a significant break in tradition for the boys' private school which moved to its current Park Road site in 1870 and was founded hundreds of years before that - its origins date back beyond 1256.

Until now, some lessons and drama productions have been shared in the sixth form with St Helen and St Katharine school, another private school in the town.

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But Abingdon School has never been co-educational.

However, in a shock announcement, the school said this would change in senior school years from 2026.

It said in a statement: "The Abingdon Foundation, which comprises Abingdon School and Abingdon Prep School, is delighted to announce that both its schools are to become co-educational."

It added: "Abingdon’s governors and leadership teams want the education they deliver to be reflective of modern society - one where equal opportunity for the sexes is promoted; and in which both girls and boys should be as ambitious as each other; as well as being in control of their own future success.

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"They acknowledge that teamwork, emotional intelligence, mutual understanding and the ability to relate to others is better fostered in a co-educational environment which more accurately reflects the conditions of real life.Herald Series: Abingdon School science centre"In short, the decision to move to co-education has been driven by the belief that the best preparation for young people is to educate them alongside one another."

Chair of governors Prof Mike Stevens said: "I am very excited by what this development will mean for the Abingdonians of the future.

"The Abingdon I have known has always been open to the opportunities that change can bring and our decision has been driven by what we think is best for education today."

Abingdon Prep School will admit girls to its Pre-Prep from September 2024; and to Years 3 to 6 from September 2025.

Abingdon Senior School will admit girls to its 1st Year (Year 7) and sixth form (Year 12) from September 2026.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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