If you’re currently researching independent schools for your child’s secondary education, you may have come across the phrase ‘diamond school’. But what is a diamond school, and what are its benefits for your child?
A diamond school follows a unique model of teaching in which boys and girls are taught separately for some subjects, or entire year groups, at co-educational schools. The most common use of this model includes co-education until the age of 11 and from ages 16 to 18, but single-sex teaching in-between for Key Stages 3 and 4 (Years 7–11).
The diamond model was developed by New Hall School in Essex – a move which resulted in it being awarded the Independent Schools Award for Outstanding Strategic Initiative in 2011. It was the first independent girls’ school – and the only Catholic school – to implement the diamond model of co-education.
15 UK independent schools have since adopted the diamond model – we’ve included a full list below.
The purpose of the diamond model is to give pupils the benefits of both co-ed and single-sex education.
The diamond model allows schools to sensitively tailor their pastoral care and academic provision to young people. While co-education is more reflective of real life, many schools argue that there are academic benefits to single sex teaching as young teenagers are more focused when taught separately.
As they become young adults, pupils have to deal with the physical and social upheaval – and in some cases, negative peer pressure – that comes from all the major changes of adolescence. Many believe that single-sex schools are better equipped to support young people through these crucial years.
However, there are plenty of benefits that come from co-education beyond the classroom – which is why most diamond schools have shared extracurricular facilities and programmes. Pupils mix for team sports, music, drama, and activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award and CCF, which contributes to a healthy team spirit and a natural overall community ethos.
Meanwhile, the diamond model can suit parents with both sons and daughters. Most diamond schools teach all their pupils on one site (or at a minimum, the senior boys’ and girls’ schools are located close to each other). This makes the logistics of the school drop-off and attending school events easy for busy families who want the benefits of single sex education.
Bedford Greenacre Independent School
Day school in Bedford, Bedfordshire. The diamond model is employed in selected subjects, but is co-educational in all other aspects.
Bedford Greenacre Independent School is the result of a rebrand in 2021, following the merger of Rushmoor and St Andrew’s Schools. A new 40-acre school site between Bedford and Clapham is due to open in 2023.
A family of day and boarding independent schools in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Boys and girls are taught together until the age of 7, separately until 16, and together again from the age of 16 to 18.
Day and boarding school in Brentwood, Essex. Girls and boys are taught separately until the age of 16.
Day education in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The nursery and sixth form are co-educational, while the junior and senior schools are single-sex.
Day school in Bristol. Children have co-educational classes in all subjects and year groups except Years 7–9.
Group of independent day schools in Newcastle upon Tyne. Children have mixed classes in the nursery, junior school and sixth form, while the boys’ and girls’ schools are single-sex (ages 11 to 16).
Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools
Independent day and boarding schools in Edinburgh. The ESMS Nursery and Junior School are co-educational, while girls and boys learn separately at The Mary Erskine School and Stewart’s Melville College respectively. They have mixed classes again at ESMS Sixth Form.
Independent day school in Waltham Forest, east London. Girls and boys are taught together until the age of 7, separately until the age of 16, and together again from the age of 16 to 18.
Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools
Day and full boarding education in Monmouthshire. There are four schools: a co-educational prep (ages 3–11), separate boys’ and girls’ senior schools (ages 11–16) and a co-educational sixth form (ages 16–18).
Day and boarding education in Sherborne, Dorset. Girls and boys are taught separately from Years 9–11 in maths and science, but the school is co-educational in all other respects.
Day and boarding education in Chelmsford, Essex. Girls and boys are taught in co-educational classes until the age of 11, and from the age of 16 to 18, but have single-sex lessons from the ages of 11 to 16.
Independent day school in Oldham, Greater Manchester. The nursery, infants, juniors and sixth form are fully co-educational, whilst children are taught in single-sex classes in Years 7–11.
A family of day and boarding schools in Cambridgeshire. All teaching classes in Years 7 and 8 are single-sex, as are English, maths, science, and sports in Years 9, 10 and 11 (and some humanities subjects in Year 9). The schools are co-educational in all other respects.
Independent day education in Leeds. The Grammar School at Leeds was formed in 2008 following the merger of Leeds Girls’ High School and Leeds Grammar School (boys). Classes are single-sex from the age of 11 to 16, but are co-educational in Rose Court Nursery Primary School (ages 3–11) and the sixth form.
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