All Sydney students to have guaranteed access to a co-ed high school

Students living in Sydney’s single-sex public high school catchments will have guaranteed access to a nearby coeducational school under a plan being developed by the NSW Department of Education.

Families in the Georges River area were the first to be officially informed of the change. From next year, students zoned for the Penshurst Girls and Hurstville Boys’ campuses of Georges River College can also choose the co-ed Peakhurst campus.

Other catchments will follow once the department finishes the complicated process of assessing student numbers and re-drawing catchments, senior government sources said on the condition of anonymity because the policy has not been finalised.

Families in the Georges River

Push for co-ed: Parents want the choice in the public system.Credit:Glen McCurtayne

“The department is working towards options for all students to access coeducational settings,” a NSW Department of Education spokesman said.

There are 34 single-sex public high schools in Sydney. Under the catchment system, students are only guaranteed a place at their local school. They can apply to out-of-area co-ed schools, but will be refused if they are full or near capacity.

Many parents in single-sex catchments – ranging from the eastern suburbs and inner west to Hornsby and Kogarah – have been lobbying for guaranteed co-ed alternatives, saying they want the option of having their children study with the opposite sex and their sons and daughters to attend the same school.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has been sympathetic to their concerns, sources told the Herald, but some within the department are concerned that the move would further erode enrolments at public boys’ schools, many of which are struggling to attract students.

In April the member for Oatley, Liberal MP Mark Coure, told his constituents that the single-sex school intake areas of Georges River College would change to “give prospective year 7 students a choice of both co-ed and single-sex schools,” he said in a letter.

“I understand how important this flexibility is for local families.”

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