Dad starts petition against mixing boys and girls at Surbiton school

Surrey Comet: Southborough headteacher Niall Smith, left, said the petitioners could have been reassured Southborough headteacher Niall Smith, left, said the petitioners could have been reassured

A father has launched a petition to try to stop a Surbiton boys school from allowing girls to join.

Southborough High School wants to expand with a primary school for both boys and girls from next year.

Girls would join the secondary school in 2017 from year 7, but a petition on Kingston Council’s website has 27 signatures. The school already has girls in its sixth form.

Father-of-three Mike Briggs, who started the petition, said: “My experience is discipline and learning is better in single-sex schools, just my opinion, but others feel the same and I believe parents should have a right to choose this for their children.

“Without Southborough, the choice for boys will be limited to Coombe Boys, unless you’re Catholic or affluent.”

Headteacher Niall Smith said: “We were fully aware of the petition, but are a little surprised that many of the signatories did not attend our recent consultation meetings. We feel if they had been present, we would have been able to reassure many of them.”

Southborough High School celebrated 50 years as a boys school last year and was given a Good Ofsted rating.

The school’s consultation document states: “In neither its most recent self evaluation nor Ofsted report (December 2013) is it stated that the quality of the school’s provision and resultant success is due to its historic single-sex status.”

Councillor David Cunningham, shadow lead member for schools and continuing education, said: “Parents are usually happy with the status quo. They would not want to change the character of the school.

“But the school has put out a brief and on the face of it, it seems reasonable. I would like to see how the consultation goes.”

Mr Smith admitted the expansion would lead to more people and traffic, but said: “We will do everything in our power to come up with a design solution that contains those issues.”

He added an entrance through Verona Drive that has not been used for a number of years would only be used if it was “in the very best interests and safety” of students.

But Verona Drive resident Aine Lark said: “It would be a nightmare.”

The consultation document is available on the school’s website until February 28.

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