MONTREAL – As of 2016, Villa Maria High School will start admitting boys to grade seven.
It has been operating as an all-girls school since 1854.
On Friday, the school administration sent a letter to parents announcing the move towards co-education.
The school also plans to “implement innovative educational technologies” and “develop its study programs and concentrations” as part of a broader shift in its strategic direction.
How have students’ parents reacted?
One parent, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Global News that he was surprised to receive the letter this morning from the school. He wishes that parents were more engaged in the discussions that led to this decision.
He’s not too concerned because his daughter will have graduated by the time the change takes effect. Other parents, however, are infuriated. They sent their children to a single-sex school for a reason and don’t want the educational environment to change over the course of the students’ studies.
They say that single-sex education allows girls to build self-confidence, avoid distractions and assume leadership positions that they wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Why go co-ed?
There’s significant competition in the all-girls private school sector. Trafalgar School for Girls, Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School, The Study, Sacred Heart and Villa Maria all compete for the same bright female students. Villa Maria might be trying to escape a saturated market.
Villa Maria has a lower tuition fee than other co-ed private schools, such as Lower Canada College (LCC) and St. Georges. Its move to the co-ed market would cater to middle class parents who can’t afford alternatives, but nonetheless want to give their child a co-ed private education.
Is there a precedent?
The shift from single-sex to co-ed education has been done before. LCC started admitting girls in the 1990s following more than a century of operating as an all-boys school. Females now represent 43.6 per cent of the school’s population.
Villa Maria might be trying to replicate LCC’s success story.
Read below for full letter sent to parents of Villa Maria students: