'A pinnacle moment': Leading private school announces co-ed move

Leading Sydney private school Cranbrook has announced its high school will be going fully co-ed after 104 years as a school for boys.

The process will start with female students being admitted into Years 7 and 11 from 2026, before the Senior School (Years 7-12) become fully co-educational from 2029. 

In a letter to Cranbrook School’s community and stakeholders, President of School Council Jon North and Cranbrook Headmaster Nicholas Sampson said the many see the transition as being “a necessary and inevitable step forward in the context of a modern society”.

Sampson said the school had consulted its community over the last six months on the proposal to introduce co-education in Years 11 and 12, adding that the “highly constructive” feedback caused the school to “revisit a number of assumptions on co-education”.

“This is a pinnacle moment in Cranbrook’s history. Moving to a coeducational model is, I believe, the pathway for the future, and cements our existence as a School based on equality, inclusion and respect for diversity,” Sampson said in a statement.

“Our ambition for girls joining Cranbrook is that their experience should be every bit as rich, challenging and fulfilling as it is for boys. Girls will participate fully in the life of the School in the classroom and beyond, and the outstanding young women who will start at Cranbrook will sustain, develop and enhance Cranbrook’s strong culture, a culture that celebrates inclusiveness and individuality.”

Sampson and North noted that while there had been “broad community support” for the move, others had “substantial concerns” about changing the current educational model.

“These include cohort size, the ratio of girls to boys, Year 11 as the entry point and the potential impact of change on educational outcomes. There is an overriding concern that any major change should be carefully considered and not rushed,” Sampson and North said.

Sampson and North said the three-year timeframe to transition from single-sex to co-ed aimed “to address both the desire to embrace a co-educational environment, but mitigate or remove the major concerns expressed by parents and alumni.”

During the preparation phase, Cranbrook will continue to implement the co-educational initiatives it announced last year – an expanded co-curricular program, the Academy enrichment program and the development of an outdoor experiential program at Wolgan Valley for Years 9/10.

Sampson and North said the transition to co-education will require strong community engagement and support.

“This is an important step for Cranbrook and full details of the proposed co-education changes for the Senior School will be provided to the community in due course for further consultation,” they said.