About co-education at Newington
The College Council formally announced plans for a phased transition to co-education on Monday 20 November 2023.
If you would like to find out more about co-education at Newington, please find the following FAQs.
If you can’t find the information that you’re looking for, you can email us.
We will be accepting girls into Kindergarten and Year 5 from 2026, and Year 7 and Year 11 from 2028.
Background and decision
The College Council has an ongoing responsibility to consider what is best for the long-term future of Newington and each one of the young people we educate.
We first talked to our community about conducting this review in February 2022, when we shared that we were specifically assessing three overlapping elements – how we maintain and build our diversity and inclusiveness amid significant socioeconomic and cultural shifts in our local area; whether co-education is a preferable model for Newington given the evolving demands and expectations of society and work now and into the future; and whether the College should become larger at either the senior or preparatory schools, or both.
Newington College will build on its 160 years of education by beginning a phased transition to co-education and growing the senior school, which will see the College become fully co-educational by 2033.
The Newington College Council.
The strategic review by the College Council included:
- a comprehensive third-party review and meta-analysis of the substantial available research and literature on co-education and single sex education
- workshops with current Newington College students
- qualitative consultation groups and insights reporting, and quantitative demand modelling in partnership with independent research
- research into alumni sentiments about size and co-education, facilitated by the Old Newingtonians’ Union
- international and domestic benchmarking and investigations with schools that have and have not transitioned to co-education
- extensive campus concept master planning and development options
- broad and comprehensive financial modelling of a range of possible models
- consultation with the Uniting Church, GPS schools, and other relevant stakeholder groups.
Newington’s overriding vision is to empower our students to make a positive contribution to society now and into the future. The process therefore focused primarily on the needs of current students and those of the decades to come.
The review invited input from staff, current parents, students, alumni and friends of Newington, including the Uniting Church. Their perspectives gave us valuable insights and enabled us to examine issues through varied perspectives. We are grateful for all this input and thank those who participated.
The values that are the bedrock of Newington College include a balanced and rigorous education; inclusiveness and diversity; making a positive contribution to society; delivering a contemporary and innovative learning experience; teaching a balance of hard and soft skills; critical thinking as the foundation of lifelong learners, and an accountability to our students, their families, our alumni and society at large. These were a constant source of reference throughout the process.
We are committed to remaining a part of the AAGPS.
The move to co-education and what it means for Newington College
The transition will be gradual, beginning in 2026 when we will welcome girls at our preparatory schools Wyvern and Lindfield in Kindergarten and Year 5. The first girls will join the senior campus in 2028 in Year 7 and Year 11. As these students progress through their education at Newington, the College will become fully co-educational by 2033, with the first co-educational cohort graduating in 2029.
Our transition model will take Newington through the next decade to 2033, when we expect to be fully co-educational. We are ready to invest the resources, time and expertise to make a careful, deliberative transition.
Our broad framework has considered:
- the appointment of additional co-education focused roles and a co-education planning group in 2024, with our community stakeholders represented
- the first intake of girls into Kindergarten and Year 5 in 2026. This will allow girls to have a mentor/mentee relationship from the outset. The overall size of the cohorts at our K-6 campuses will stay the same
- our first intake of Year 7 girls in 2028. The overall size of our Year 7 cohort should grow from approximately 250 to approximately 300 at this time, including the students graduating from our prep schools
- a small Year 11 intake of girls in 2028. These girls will be foundation senior students and will also act as mentors for the Year 7 girls
- from 2032, an additional small intake of new boys and girls into Year 11 who will join those students who have already been at the College for a number of years
- our boys competing in the AAGPS sporting competition and our girls in the ISA sporting competition (more on this below). We expect to be fully competitive in both
Several important reasons led to the College Council’s decision.
Newington College has a proud history as a school that has educated young people to discover what’s possible and become purposeful members of society. It is, and will continue to be, a thriving, rigorous, thoughtful place. However, it is the responsibility of the College Council to consider, protect and embrace the future of Newington as well as its present. This decision has been made to ensure the College remains a vibrant, contemporary institution, in step with the society it is part of.
Our students will enter a world that will require them to walk and work alongside all genders collaboratively, respectfully and empathetically as colleagues, employers, employees, partners, parents and friends.
We believe the best way to prepare them for these roles is for different genders to learn alongside each other in an everyday, unremarkable way during their childhood and adolescence. Although some Newington students already interact with girls in drama productions, orchestra and cadets, and our Early Learning Centre is already co-ed, daily connections will facilitate everyday and authentic relations and experiences.
Secondly, diversity and inclusiveness are increasingly important in our culture. They are now the norm, not the exception. This has already re-shaped traditional institutions, systems, industries and workplaces.
Diversity at Newington has meant different things at different times – at our inception it primarily meant different denominations. As time progressed, it more explicitly encompassed different socio-economic, ethnic, sexual orientation, geographic and faith groups.
In today’s world, diversity inescapably includes gender as well as these things, and our commitment to inclusivity leads almost inexorably to our deliberations about co-education.
Demographic trends played some role but were not a deciding factor. The decision has been made because we want to go co-ed, not because we need to. Applications for students to attend Newington remain very strong. That said, qualitative and quantitative data we have reviewed suggests fewer young people are planning a single sex education for their actual or anticipated children in the future.
Girls can be confident their own experience will be robustly co-ed, even as other parts of the school are not all fully co-ed during the transition. There will be active consideration to the gender balance of Houses, classes and different subjects to ensure this occurs. This could mean some classes during the transition decade will remain all boys. We will work towards individual co-ed classes with a reasonable balance of boys and girls.
We are well aware that, like most schools, our community will include children who change or do not identify with a gender. We will respect and accommodate that, just as many other schools do already.
Working with respected external experts, we studied carefully the educational literature about single sex and co-educational schooling. The research can be deeply divided, opaque and partisan. The biggest limitation is that most studies do not take account of other critical factors (such as socio-economic advantage) that often overlap with single sex education. More robust studies usually do not show benefits in single sex education in terms of academic achievement.
A persuasive meta-analysis conducted by Erin Pahlke, Janet Hyde and Carlie Allison in 2014 analysed 184 exhaustive studies in this field across 21 nations and 1.6 million students. They found that same-sex schooling produced no academic advantage in high school for boys or girls. In primary schools the results were mixed, usually miniscule and often in favour of co-education.
We note that the studies found the quality of the teacher was far and away the most important factor in school success for both sexes. Newington College already has experienced teachers who have taught in both single sex and co-educational environments.
Our research shows that, although there may be some differences between boys’ and girls’ learning styles and preferences, any ‘learning style’ differences within a sex are much greater than the differences between sexes. Some boys prefer competition, some do not, some girls prefer auditory learning, some do not. Good teachers will cater for a variety of learning preferences regardless of whether the classroom is single sex or co-educational. All students should be exposed to a variety of different styles regardless – they are going to need all of them at different times in life.
Students at Newington have the opportunity to explore a broad range of subjects and electives. The College currently offers more than 30 electives in Year 9 and 10, and offers the HSC, International Baccalaureate and VET pathways. The Cambridge IGCSE curriculum is also being offered for the first time in 2024 to Year 9 and 10 students.
As with every year group, the exact subjects and pathways offered will be affected by demand and selections within the specific cohort.
Our overall staff, the College Leadership and the Academic Executive already have gender parity. We will continue to work on parity across the College more broadly.
If you are interested in enrolling your daughter at Newington, you can apply or fill out an expression of interest.
Growing our senior campus
Our plan is to grow the senior school by about one fifth, subject to planning laws – from 250 to approximately 300 in a year group over the next 10 years. We plan to maintain the current size of both Wyvern and Lindfield K-6.
Newington is already a substantial secondary school – we will not be transitioning from a small to a large school. And our pastoral care and knowledge of each child are far better now than they were half a century ago when we were smaller.
The quality of pastoral care depends on strong structures, people and culture. We will maintain this approach with a range of proactive programs so each student is known well by many people.
Larger secondary schools can allow more choice for students. They offer more chances to find like-minded peers and people within a broader community. They provide more opportunities to embrace the diversity of different cultures, genders and world views. They can offer more subjects and co-curricular opportunities. We will look to offer more places in existing opportunities as we get larger.
We understand that a strong community and culture depends on shared values, loyalties, comfort and connection. We will be vigilant in pursuing these.
Having considered factors such as the future of demand for a Newington education within our key catchment areas, the socio-economic makeup of our student body, and changes in government funding for independent schools, we concluded we should grow in alignment with society in a measured and staged way.
Growth also provides economies of scale that will allow the Newington of the future to thrive. It will also help us preserve our diversity.
We have a variety of well-considered, designed and costed options that will ensure contemporary, flexible spaces at our school for the next decade for learning, sport, co-curricular and day-to-day operations. The planning and approvals process will begin as the best options are confirmed.
Although we are not increasing the size of the prep schools we have earmarked projects for refurbishments, more contemporary classrooms and better play areas at both Wyvern and Lindfield. Some of these projects have been socialised already with works beginning in early 2024.
We will build new bathrooms.
We acknowledge that a portion of fees always pay for future building projects – our current students are enjoying the excellent facilities provided by the fees paid by previous generations of families. Our commitment to giving students the best possible education at Newington means continually assessing our facilities and programs, even in the face of inflation and rising costs.
No. At some point in the future, we may build underneath one – we gained approval to do this in 2014 – but we intend for our green space to remain the same.
The concept master plan developed in 2022-23 revealed the campus is able to be developed without compromising the unique green oasis used by our senior students every day. We believe we can build new facilities and improve the ones we have, whilst also keeping all our green space.
Implementation and practical matters
With this decision made, College Council has empowered the leadership team to commence addressing implementation issues, with preliminary considerations below.
We will put in place dedicated implementation teams to manage the change. Our staff will continue their focus on delivering an excellent Newington education to our students.
Our phased approach will also help ensure there is minimal impact on our existing students.
A specialist uniform designer will create stylish, flexible, contemporary, comfortable uniforms for all students in consultation with our community.
We will convert existing and build new bathrooms for all students. They will include a number of single, all-gender facilities.
We do not plan to take female boarders at this stage, but this might change in the future. We welcome any interested families to contact us about this.
We will designate male and female student leadership positions in most areas (whole College, House, etc). If a future student leader does not identify as either gender, we will manage that at the time.
We already have a very wide range of subjects, and our Academic Executive will explore the possibility of additional subjects as part of increasing the size of our year groups.
Yes. A majority of our staff have already taught in co-educational or girls’ schools so there is a wealth of knowledge and experience. It is important to add that a good teacher is usually a good teacher of everyone.
We will consult widely on this before making a decision. We have received support from the Independent Sporting Association (ISA) for future Newington girls to participate in their competitions. Key sports in the ISA for girls include hockey, netball and football. We will also explore other sports for girls which are part of Newington’s offering, such as rowing and athletics.
ISA is a strong Saturday competition of about 20 schools. It already includes the Sydney co-ed schools Barker, Redlands and St Andrews. ISA has indicated it would look favourably on any application to join the competition from 2028.
Newington will still be a part of the AAGPS and plans to remain as competitive as we have been. The Armidale School is also a member of the AAGPS and is co-educational.
The competition we already play in – the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHAA) – has co-ed and single sex schools, with separate fixturing for boys and girls. We may have combined Wyvern/Lindfield representation if this is attractive in some sports.
We hope this will be the case and plan to have further discussions with MLC.
We will work assiduously, creatively and proactively to have all genders participating in all activities.
We have extensively researched and considered the implications and practicalities of this change.
The College is stepping into the change to co-education with vigilance and care. Every step will be carefully planned with the intention of giving the best possible education experience to our students now and in the future.
Our website has information about the admissions process. We look forward to both the daughters of Old Newingtonians and whole new communities of families joining Newington. If you are interested in enrolling your child at Newington, please apply through the website or fill out an expression of interest.