A PRIVATE preparatory school in Hale Barns is set to welcome girls for the first time in 70 years.

Trustees of St Ambrose Preparatory School have announced the school will become co-educational from 2021, welcoming boys and girls aged three to 11.

Headmaster Frank Driscoll, who has already discussed the issue with parents at the Catholic school, said: “We’re delighted to offer families of both girls and boys an opportunity to be part of our wonderful, caring community. By extending our rich and diverse education we will be able to provide a family-based school which can serve daughters and sons together.”

With St Ambrose being the only independent Catholic prep school for boys in the country outside of London, Mr Driscoll added: “This is an exciting moment in the school’s 70-year history and one that has been carefully considered over several years.

“We continue to be committed to providing our pupils with a secure, stimulating environment in which they can flourish and believe that becoming co-educational will enable boys and girls to work together, respect each other, form friendships and better prepare them for the future.

“We strongly believe that with men and women working and socialising together, we need to equip the next generation of young people with the skills to thrive and develop in our diverse society.

"Being part of a co-educational community can promote respect and understanding and enable the pupils to express themselves in a mixed environment.”

The school will initially admit girls from three to nine-years-old from January 2021, with those aged 10 and 11 able to join the school from September 2021.

Mark Butler, governors chairman, added: “St Ambrose Preparatory School has a long tradition of providing its pupils with a warm and focused educational environment and we are excited to offer this opportunity to families of boys and girls.”