Winchester College will admit girls for first time in 640-year history

Winchester College is to admit girls for first time in its 640-year history as part of historic £41,000-a-year private school’s ‘modernisation agenda’

  • The college, in Hampshire, announced the news yesterday as part of ‘new vision’
  • Girls will be welcomed to the college’s sixth form no later than September 2022
  • The college has said it hopes to welcome female borders to the college by 2024
  • Alumni includes chancellor Rishi Sunak as well as film director Joss Whedon

Winchester College, one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious private schools, will open its doors to girls for the first time in its 640-year history, it announced on Tuesday.

The £41,709-a-year school, founded in 1382 in Hampshire, said the move was part of ‘a new vision and significant programme of change’.

It means there is now only three secondary schools in the UK – Eton, Harrow and Radley College – which still only admit boys despite calls for the policies to be changed.

Winchester College, a £42,000-a-year private school in Hampshire, has announced it will admit girls for the first time in its 640-year history as part of a ‘modernisation agenda’

The school was founded in 1382 by William of Wykeham and has been an all-boys school since

The £42,000-a-year Hampshire school is the alma mater of six chancellors: Henry Addington, Robert Lowe, Stafford Cripps, Hugh Gaitskell, Geoffrey Howe and Rishi Sunak.

Other senior government figures include former culture secretary John Whittingdale and former Tory minister Nick Boles.

In the world of film and TV, its alumni include Joss Whedon, the director behind the Avengers movie and the Buffy the Vampire TV series, as well as actors Hugh Dancy and Charles Edwards.

The school also taught several successful athletes including Olympic rower George Nash MBE, India’s cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and George Mallory, the pioneering Everest mountaineer. 

Winchester, which counts finance minister Rishi Sunak among its former students, currently educates around 700 students who are so-called ‘borders’ living on-site.

Girls will only be admitted to the sixth form and will be able to choose between sleeping on site or attending as day pupils, the college has said.

The first female day pupils will arrive by September 2022, with the aim to welcome the first borders by 2024.

‘Today’s announcements are the product of discussions over many years and I am delighted to take them forward,’ headmaster Tim Hands said in a statement.

Winchester College’s master said his school had produced ‘many leaders’ and hoped to continue to produce more. 

He added: ‘Our founder, William of Wykeham, was a philanthropist and visionary who revolutionised education, and it’s his tradition of looking ahead that we seek to continue.’ 

He told The Times newspaper that discussions about admitting girls had spanned 122 years – ‘notably speedy in our terms’, he said.

Winchester also said it would grow its bursary offerings to students from poorer backgrounds, aiming initially for a 25 per cent increase to supporting 150 pupils by 2024.

In addition, it is planning to expand its online learning to provide ‘greater opportunities for collaboration’ with state-funded schools.

Among Winchester College’s alumni is chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (pictured)

Warden, Sir Richard Stagg, which is the college’s equivalent to Chair of Governors, is thought to have played an instrumental role in the decision.

He said: ‘We are determined that Winchester, which led the way when it was founded almost 640 years ago, continues to be a leader and influencer of great education on the modern global stage.

‘These changes represent an exciting new phase in Winchester’s history, which will bring multiple benefits to current and future generations of Wykehamists.’ 

The college was founded in 1382 and its other famous former students include India’s former cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Joss Whedon, the screenwriter and film director behind the ‘Avengers’ movies.

The school was set up to teach 70 ‘poor and needy’ scholars as a feeder for Wykeham’s New College at Oxford. 

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