Plans to admit boys to only state, Catholic girls’ school
Publication Date: 2017-02-24
SCO finds support for campaign to make Notre Dame High School in Glasgow co-educational
Scotland’s only single-sex state secondary school could start admitting boys if a campaign by local parents is successful—and the SCO has already found support from councillors and the local parish priest.
Notre Dame High is a Catholic school in the West End of Glasgow that has only admitted girls since it was founded 120 years ago.
That century of tradition could be over if local parents succeed in convincing the council to open a consultation into making the school co-educational.
Local councillor Martin McElroy said he believed their needs to be a debate on the issue. “This is a school with an exceptional history,” the Labour councillor said. “I would say that it has to be maintained as a Catholic school; exactly what kind of future it has I think has to be decided by the parents.”
Mr McElroy said he believed there was widespread support in the local community for the change but added that many parents from ‘outside the catchment area’ send their children to Notre Dame and ‘we need to be sensitive to that.’
A group of parents at Notre Dame Primary School are currently looking for support to encourage the council to launch a formal consultation into the issue and Mr McElroy said if a consultation found support for a mixed school he suspected the council would ‘offer no major roadblocks.’
Pauline McKeever, also a Labour councillor for the local Hillhead area, said she had detected a ‘groundswell of support’ for changing the school intake in the last 18 months.
“I’ve had a number of constituents contact me,” she said. “Especially since the amalgamation of St Peter’s and Notre Dame primaries.
“Parents say there are issues with families going to different secondaries. Personally, in 2017, I’m not sure what an all girls school is for, but it would be a big change so there needs to be a wide consolation. Nothing will happen if this is just about ten parents.”
Ms McKeever said that she understood changing Notre Dame from a girls schools might not make everyone happy. “Parents do send their daughters to Notre Dame from all over the city, including some Muslim parents, because of its ethos” she said. “So they may not be happy.”
She also stressed that Notre Dame, which is one of the best state schools in Glasgow by exam results, is an excellent school.
“The results it gets academically are tremendous, so I can understand why parents want their sons as well as their daughters to attend.”
Canon Peter McBride, who is the chaplain at Notre Dame Primary and Notre Dame High said he was in favour of the secondary becoming a ‘co-educational Catholic school.’
“I would support it,” he said. “And support our Catholic parents. Back in the day when the other single sex schools were abolished, a lot of our local parents still sent their sons to St Aloysius—which was boys only—so they were happy enough to have a Catholic girls school nearby.
“But the situation has changed a lot since then and we’re losing Catholic kids who are going to the non-denominational school rather than having brothers and sisters go to separate schools.”
—This story ran in full in the February 24 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.