Derby Grammar: How a co-ed school can support pupils and connect with the community

Students and headmaster standing outside of Derby Grammar School, Derby

Derby Grammar School aims to boost the inclusivity and quality of school life for pupils of all genders, and reflect the values of wider society. - Credit: Ian Hodgkinson / Picture It

As Derby Grammar School enters a new era as a co-educational learning environment, we explore the advantages for students and how their exciting new music event builds a stronger relationship with the local area. 

We spoke to Lisa Blenkinsop, head of external relations at Derby Grammar School, about the benefits of attending a co-ed school and how it promotes academic and personal growth.  

Q: What were the deciding factors that contributed to becoming a co-ed school? 

A: We recognised early on during the pandemic that the educational landscape of this country was changing rapidly. Families have been increasingly eager to keep siblings together and for the school to be more inclusive to enhance their wellbeing and learning. 

To that end, our primary school will be introducing co-education in 2022 followed by the senior school in 2023. The sixth form has already been a co-ed learning environment for a number of years, so we are fully aware of the benefits it has for our students’ education. We’ve had a strong female presence across the school for a long time – many of our female prefects preform various duties across the entire school, such as reading to primary school pupils. 

Four young male students standing on stairs at Derby Grammar School, Derby

From primary school all the way up to the sixth from, students at Derby Grammar School learn in a diverse and inclusive environment. - Credit: Ian Hodgkinson / Picture It

Q: What are the major benefits of introducing a co-ed learning environment? 

A: Education must adapt to reflect the wider society in which we live and ensure that every student feels comfortable, included and supported. We will be overhauling our school uniform to make sure that it meets the needs of all of our pupils. Fostering diversity and an inclusive atmosphere throughout the school is a major advantage of introducing mixed year groups. 

The ethos of our school is built on family and community, and creating new opportunities for all genders during a highly formative stage of their lives is essential. The support we will be providing for our new female students will be comprehensive and will include new sports teams such as netball, mixed hockey and tennis as well as providing pastoral care and provisions. 

Q: How does attending a co-ed school help students to grow and achieve, personally and academically? 

A: Taking this step will bring new outlooks, not just for our students, but for the staff and teaching assistants as well. We firmly believe in the extension of co-educational provision and revamping the extra-curricular and pastoral elements of school life, as our students will also learn soft skills that will be vital during later life. 

Teachers helping students with school work at Derby Grammar School, Derby

As well as improving the academic performance of pupils, learning in a co-ed environment boosts their social and personal skills immensely. - Credit: Ian Hodgkinson / Picture It

Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming music and artisan crafts fair? 

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A: We are hosting a music and artisan crafts fair, which will be open to the public on 19 March, 2022. People are free to observe the instrumental lessons and enjoy the live music events throughout the day provided by HotHouse Music. We will also be hosting live artisan craft stalls, showcasing the wide array of products that our local area has to offer. 

By putting a spotlight on musical talent and local crafts, this fair plays an important role in supporting the local economy and allows the school to establish a much closer connection to the community of which we are a big part. We will not be charging stall holders to set up for the day, boosting their profits and offering the opportunity to all of our local artisans.  

If you are interested in setting up a stall for this event, there is still time to book yourself a space on 19 March.  

To learn more about the new co-educational programme, or for information on the music fair, visit derbygrammar.org or call 01332 523027.