Future on Scotland’s only state-run all-girls’ school to be looked at
The future of the only state school in Scotland where all the pupils are girls is to be discussed.
Glasgow City Council has said it will hold a consultation on whether Notre Dame High School should start taking in boys.
Some parents in the west end of Glasgow want their sons to go to Notre Dame.
But any proposal is likely to meet fierce resistance from supporters of the school, which has only taught girls since its inception in 1897.
The consultation will start at some point after an ongoing review of school catchment areas across the city has been completed.
Notre Dame High, in Glasgow’s Hyndland, is a Roman Catholic school but a number of girls from Muslim families also attend.
Some 70% of the children come from parts of the city outside the school’s own catchment area.
A legal challenge to Notre Dame’s status failed 16 years ago.
However, the parents of some children at one of the feeder primary schools want boys to be able to attend.
Some of them argue that their boys should be able to enrol at Notre Dame as the other secondary schools in the area are further away or less convenient.
Some also want their sons and daughters to be able to go to the same secondary school.
When Notre Dame opened 120 years ago, same sex education was not uncommon but other girls’ schools in Scotland gradually closed or started admitting boys.
Parents of children who are currently at the school, and some former pupils, are likely to fight hard to maintain its unique status.
They are expected to highlight the fact that many parents actively choose to send their daughters there as being evidence there is a significant demand for an all-girls’ school.
Some would highlight the school’s academic record or argue that some girls may benefit from same-sex education. For instance, it means there is no risk of subjects like science or maths being seen as “boys’ subjects”.
They are also likely to argue that the parents of some girls from disadvantaged areas of the city ask to send their daughters there.
Although Notre Dame is the last state secondary in Scotland where all the pupils are girls, there are a number of similar schools south of the border.
Some – like Mulberry School in Tower Hamlets – enjoy excellent reputations and have attracted prestigious visitors including Michelle Obama.
However, sceptics would argue that schools like Notre Dame and Mulberry are successful because of the quality of the teaching and their ethos rather than because there are no male pupils.