Newington College

An update on behalf of the Council of Newington College

An update on behalf of the Council of Newington College

Dear Newington community, 

I’d like to update you on the response to yesterday’s announcement from the College Council that Newington College is embarking on a phased transition to co-education and growing the senior school, with the College becoming fully co-educational by 2033. 

Firstly, I’d like to thank those members of the community who have provided feedback since yesterday’s announcement. There have been a range of views, but I’m delighted that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By way of hard data: by midnight last night, we had received 68 emails to our dedicated mailbox, more than 70 per cent of them positive and supportive of the change, and many of them asking how to enrol their daughters. Our admissions team have now received more than 280 registrations, 221 of them for girls across our prep and senior campuses and 32 of them from Old Newingtonians delighted they are now able to give their daughters or granddaughters a Newington education along with their sons and grandsons. By way of context, that’s more than 50 times the number of registrations we would see on an average day.

It’s an excellent result that reflects what our research showed repeatedly: there is a strong appetite for the wonderful experience our College offers and will continue to offer in the future. 

Some members of our community have requested more information about the research and process that informed the Council’s decision. It included more than 100 hours of face-to-face discussions with staff, students, current and prospective families and Old Newingtonians. We reviewed 30 pieces of robust independent research – some of it running to hundreds of pages – as well as each and every one of the more than 250 emails received during the consultation process: these spanned the full range of viewpoints, from those strongly in favour of the change through to those advocating for the College to stay as it is. It included a comprehensive meta-analysis of academic literature, research and case studies related to single sex and co-ed education. In addition to this, we commissioned new research where we felt we needed deeper insights, including a comprehensive demographic study that examined trends in the Sydney metropolitan area, and a qualitative study of expert opinion and attitudes of parents and students to education in contemporary Australia. We also asked independent experts to conduct a large-scale study of demand dynamics in schools, which looked at both co-ed and single sex education, and referenced our regular research into parent, staff and student satisfaction with Newington. Our alumni established a demographics working group, commissioned an independent survey and provided valuable viewpoints in person and via email. The College Council engaged in 16 meetings with the ONU executive to allow for discussion and debate, including a face-to-face presentation to Council members. 

We were determined to be thorough, objective, detailed and measured as we explored every issue that was presented. It was a long and considered process, but one we were determined to get right. 

As you know, our decision means we introduce girls to our prep schools in Kindergarten and Year 5 in 2026, and at our senior campus in 2028 in Years 7 and 11. Several families have asked us to move more quickly, or to introduce co-education at other years. While we appreciate their enthusiasm, we will take the time we have nominated to ensure we optimise our execution and continue to provide an excellent experience to our current students. This will also allow our yet-to-be-established co-education planning group to work with our academic, pastoral and co-curricular teams to develop detailed plans. 

We have received some questions from families who have made applications for their sons. Our admissions process remains in place, as do the factors we consider for each applicant. As has been standing practice for many years, application is a formal registration of interest, not a guarantee of a place. This is also the case with other schools like Newington. We look forward to welcoming the boys who have been offered and accepted a spot at the College. There is, however, no denying that we have more children in the waitpool than we have positions. While we would like to accommodate every prospective student, we need to balance the places for siblings, children of ONU members as well as students from diverse backgrounds. We will monitor the take-up for each year and advise those in the waitpool in advance of the enrolment year whether or not a place is available as soon as we are able. 

Our website also contains a frequently asked questions section, which lets people know a lot more about our continued GPS commitment and competitiveness, sport for girls, uniforms, building programs and a range of other issues. I hope you take the chance to have a look at it. 

While we are excited about the change and the overwhelmingly positive response it has received, we also appreciate that there are some in our community who disagree with this decision. We appreciate that everyone is entitled to their view, however we know from all the work conducted since February 2022 that the best interests of Newington and its students in the future is co-educational and one that prepares all our students for an enriching, positive and thriving future beyond their time at school. With the clear and unanimous decision of Council on the evening of Friday 17 November, shared with our community at the earliest opportunity on Monday 20 November, we now look forward to the work ahead as we move into the implementation phase of Newington’s next chapter. 

Tony McDonald
Newington College Council