Medway school mulls single-gender primary extension

A girls’ secondary school in Kent wants to add single-gender primary provision on its site.

If the move goes ahead, Rainham School for Girls will become only the sixth school nationally to provide girls-only education to primary age pupils, and only the tenth nationally to provide single-gender schooling to younger pupils.

The Medway school, which is part of The Kemnal Academies Trust, is consulting on plans to change its age range from 11-18 to 4-18. The aim is to admit the first cohort of reception pupils in 2020.

In a consultation document, the school describes the concept of single-gender primary provision as “an exciting prospect that will enable us to not only focus on the best learning strategies for girls, but will ensure that they have the chance to explore all aspects of learning, challenging stereotypes”.

The change would allow pupils to move from primary to secondary education “more fluidly”, and “significantly increase a pupil’s progress path”, the school said.

Part of the school’s site would be refurbished and “designed to specifically cater” for primary pupils.

According to government records, five schools currently offer girls’-only primary education in England, including two Jewish schools in London, two all-through schools and Winterbourne Junior Girls’ School, a community school in Thornton Heath, Surrey.

Four schools offer boys’-only primary education. Three are Jewish schools, the other is Winterbourne Boys’ Academy, also in Thornton Heath.

But Peter Read, from the Kent Independent Education Advice website, said the school offered “little rationale” for extending the age range, and warned the supposed benefits of all-through provision “offers nothing to the over 80 per cent of year 7 girls who would be joining Rainham Girls from other schools”.

Read also pointed to existing pupil vacancies at nearby primary schools.

“There may be a case to be made for additional girls’ primary provision in Rainham, but I don’t consider this is it, and I very much doubt if it would convince government either,” he said.

The trust referred us to their consultation.