Welcome

The Board of Governors is excited to inform you that from September 2025 Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ will join Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ to create a single, co-educational senior school. The newly created school will be known as Merchant Taylors’ School and will be co-educational for all pupils aged 4-18, creating one school, one community, with one vision.

Why the move to Co-Ed?

This strategic development allows us to broaden and strengthen our academic provision, while developing new opportunities and ensuring that access to those opportunities is the same for every pupil at Merchant Taylors’. The single, co-educational school will be based at the current Boys’ School, which will be known as the Harrison Site.

Re-modelling our structure to become co-educational will provide greater operational and financial efficiency and will allow the School to help ensure that every pound generated in fee income from parents is invested to support the pupil experience. Uniting the Senior Schools on one site will mean that we can invest in one estate, refurbishing and developing it to meet, and indeed exceed, the requirements of all our community.

Merchant Taylors’ School has a remarkable history, with every right to be proud of its achievements over the last 400 years. However, there is no room for complacency. The world is changing fast and we need to move with it whilst staying true to our founding purpose ‘for the teaching, educating, and instructing of youth’. The core of our strategy is the creation of a more outward-looking school which reflects modern society, generous in its commitments to partnerships and service to others, inclusive and diverse in its outlook, forward thinking and digitally acute, operating with the advice of, and in partnership with those at the cutting edge of change and with the schools around us. Society continues to evolve and it is our firm intention that the School adapts accordingly with agility and integrity.

In undertaking this change, the Governors are determined to retain all that is good from both the Girls’ and Boys’ Schools. This will ensure that both the new co-educational Senior School, and indeed Merchant Taylors’ as a whole, becomes the best future-facing version of itself, understanding and serving the needs of its community as it has done for the last 400 years.

One School | One Community | One Vision


FAQs

We have prepared this comprehensive set of FAQs to offer clarity and assistance to the Merchant Taylors’ community on the key topics associated with the creation of the Merchant Taylors’ co-educational Senior School. We understand that navigating this amount of detail can sometimes be challenging so please get in touch if you need clarification on any of the topics included. Our goal is to ensure you have access to all the information you need as we work together to introduce this exciting development.

Mr Philip Marshall KC, Chair of the Board of Governors & Dr Michael Alderson, Executive Head

Co-Ed Transition Updates

Update No. 1

20/06/2024

Update No. 2

03/06/2024

Update No. 3

16/04/2024

Update No. 4

15/03/2024

Implication of change

Why is this change taking place?

When the School was founded in 1620 it was for ‘the teaching, educating and instructing of youth’. Initially as a Boys’ School, it was always at the forefront of anticipating developments in society, extending its excellence to founding the Girls’ School in 1888.

As society continues to evolve, the School needs to respond accordingly with agility and integrity, adapting to the challenges it faces.

We believe that uniting the Girls’ and Boys’ Senior Schools secures the long-term future of the School and ensures that our pupils are best placed with the skills and experience to thrive in the next stage of their life beyond school.

What factors have you considered in reaching this decision?

We have considered a wide range of factors in reaching this decision, including the best outcomes for all our pupils and the next best steps to secure the future of Merchant Taylors’.

Co-education is not a new concept to Merchant Taylors’; senior boys and girls already mix for Sport, Drama, Music, CCF and a number of subjects already have co-educational classes to ensure that there is a vibrant and dynamic learning experience.

With Stanfield already co-educational, and with the Sixth Form going fully co-educational from September 2024, this change is the natural progression for our School.

Like all successful schools, we have evolved over time to meet the needs of the community we serve. Our last big evolution happened two years ago when we introduced the Diamond Model.

However, since then, the need for further evolution has accelerated. Young people can develop the social and emotional skills they need far more easily in a co-educational environment; ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and ‘#MeToo’ were a demonstration of the vital importance of supporting every young person in developing their inter-personal skills, and their social and emotional intelligence.

We want our School to be inclusive, not divisive: a coeducational environment is an enormous step towards that. Co-education makes it far easier to ensure equality of opportunity, regardless of biological sex.

The Diamond Model requiring us to duplicate facilities, teaching and activities across two sites is inefficient, and, in the long term, unsustainable. From a financial perspective, we have a duty to operate as efficiently as possible. Changing to a co-educational structure will allow us to do that because we can ensure that every pound we receive in fee income is used for the benefit of our pupils.

Our purpose is to support every pupil, and to provide them with the environment, challenges and opportunities that will prepare them to go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. A co-educational environment will enable all of these things.

How will this change impact on the name of the School?

The united Girls’ and Boys’ Senior Schools will be known as Merchant Taylors’ School and be based on the Boys’ Senior site. Going forward, this will be known as the Harrison Site.

In addition, Stanfield Preparatory School will now be known as Merchant Taylors’ Prep School. This site will be known as the Stanfield Site.

The Sixth Form will be an integral part of Merchant Taylors’ School.

Does the outcome of the recent ISI inspections affect this decision?

No. Both the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools were inspected this year and found to be fully compliant with all regulatory requirements.

Some parents made the particular choice for single sex and may now feel that co-educational is being imposed on them. What is the process for parents to leave should they not want their child in a coeducational school?

Our market research indicates that single sex was not an overriding factor in the original choice of parents for the School but that other factors were more important. The Schools’ Terms and Conditions require parents to provide one term’s notice of their intention to remove their child from the School. However, we would advise you to meet with your child’s current Head of School to discuss your concerns before making this decision.

How will pupils be affected on a day-to-day basis?

In most respects, and beyond the composition of classes, the day-to-day experience of the School will be very familiar. Pupils will continue to enjoy full access to the curriculum they know, an expanded cocurricular programme within improved facilities while doing so in a fully co-educational setting.

Will this change the School’s aims, ethos, and values?

The strength of Merchant Taylors’ is in our ability to produce grounded young people who leave us with the skills and attributes to lead happy, meaningful and successful lives, and contribute to society. Everything that we do will continue to support that aim.

We know that the two Schools naturally have slightly different cultures, born of their individual histories and environments, but they have always shared a common aim and ethos. At heart, though, both Senior Schools strive to provide the same thing: a supportive learning environment that caters for each child as an individual. We will be working with our staff across both Schools to preserve the very best elements of everything that we do, and make Merchant Taylors’ even better for all of our pupils, staff and parents.

What will the USP be?

The quality of our provision, our location, the range of opportunities, academic and co-curricular and the high standard of pastoral care are the most important factors for the vast majority of our parents. All of these will continue and, indeed, continue to grow in the new, co-educational structure. At its core, the School will retain all that is loved about Merchant Taylors’ but re-imagined as the number one independent coeducational school choice for parents in Merseyside.

The core of our strategy is the creation of a more outward-looking school which reflects modern society, generous in its commitments to partnerships and service to others, inclusive and diverse in its outlook, forward thinking and digitally acute, operating with the advice of, and in partnership with, those at the cutting edge of change and with the schools around us.

What will happen to the uniform?

We have reviewed the position regarding uniform and our intention is that parents will not have significant additional expense in this regard. The uniform will be streamlined to ensure parity with boys and girls. We will share updates and visuals of the changes with you in the near future, along with opportunities to engage with stakeholders on what this looks like. There will be no substantial change before September 2026 and we will allow for a transition period to avoid additional expense.

Academic

Will a co-educational Senior School change the academic standards?

Merchant Taylors’ strives to offer an outstanding, contemporary education in which pupils develop the ability to think for themselves and to interpret the world around them. We have high expectations of all our pupils and do everything we can to support them in reaching their full potential. This will not change.

As you are aware, over 2022/23, we moved to having one overarching Academic Lead across the Schools and one Head of Department for each academic subject as we believe that this allows us to have a greater focus on raising our academic aspirations, standards, and expectations. We will continue to develop this overarching academic leadership and, in tandem, the quality of our provision.

By removing the duplication in our teaching provision, it will also be feasible for us to explore the addition of new subjects, which will provide pupils with more opportunities to study the areas that interest them most, and in which they will naturally tend to do best.

How will you prepare teachers to move from single sex teaching to co-educational teaching?

Although we currently teach in single sex classes in Y7-11, we run co-educational lessons in the Sixth Form across both sites, and every teacher at Merchant Taylors’ has experience of teaching in a co-educational environment. We will be running additional sessions for our teaching staff as necessary, but our teachers are already very highly skilled and experienced, and we are confident they will make this transition very smoothly.

Where will the Heads of Department be based?

The Heads of Sixth Form subjects will be based on the Harrison Site where Sixth Form teaching takes place. Other Heads of Department may be based on either site during 2024/25, and will still be accessible to pupils, before the move to the single site from September 2025.

How will co-educational teaching affect SEN support?

In preparation for moving towards becoming fully coeducational, we commissioned an external consultant to review our SEN provision across the Schools and to make recommendations on how we can consolidate the departments into one, whole-school department that delivers a consistent and equitable provision for any pupil who requires additional support. During the transition year, Learning Support provision will be available on both sites.

Co-curricular

How will co-curricular activities be affected by the change?

Our extensive co-curricular and enrichment provision is an integral part of the experience at Merchant Taylors’ and a fundamental contributor to the holistic development of each pupil. As well as the long-term benefits of building relevant skills and experiences, it enhances well-being, inspires and encourages pupils to develop their interests and contributes greatly to the self esteem and confidence of each pupil. Because we will no longer have to duplicate our co-curricular provision across two sites, the door will be opened to offering a wider range of activities. New initiatives can be much more easily established once all of our senior pupils are on the same site. Most importantly of all, niche activities which might only appeal to a small number of pupils become much more viable, such as Classical Greek. Since September 2023 our TENDO Programme has helped to improve the equity of our co-curricular and enrichment provision. We will continue to offer all pupils the option to partake in a range of clubs and societies.

How will sports be affected?

The programme for sports, games and physical activity will continue at the same high standard. Pupils will continue to be taught separately in major sports, but there will be opportunities in some areas for pupils to participate in more sports together. Our extensive fixtures programme will continue.

Pastoral

How will you manage the pastoral provision in the co-educational Senior School?

We are currently in the process of aligning our Pastoral and House systems across the Senior Schools to ensure that these meet the needs of our pupils and allow us to run as effectively as possible as a coeducational school.

By September 2025, pupils will be organised in horizontal year groups and tutor groups, and we believe that the role of the tutor in this context is central to developing successful relationships for learning.

We will also develop a range of pastoral spaces which our pupils can actively enjoy, including quiet indoor spaces, covered outdoor areas, and areas for groups to socialise in together.

How will the pupils be supported in this transition?

All of our pupils already have lots of experience of learning and working together. Many have attended co-educational primary and preparatory schools, at Merchant Taylors’, or elsewhere. Over the last few years, we have developed opportunities for the pupils to work together in many co-curricular activities, and we know that our pupils socialise together outside school. Learning together in the classroom will be an extension of the time that they already spend with each other.

Our pastoral and teaching teams will be working hard to deliver an extended transition programme to help the pupils prepare and we will have very strong pastoral provision in place for every year group as we move to become fully co-educational. Our teachers are already experienced in supporting pupils to learn together in co-educational lessons at A Level and in some subjects at GCSE.

The transition programme will include social events, shared lectures, academic and sporting activities, focused on team building and familiarisation with the School site. Activities are being run co-educationally wherever practically possible to maximise opportunities for all our pupils to develop friendships before they are based together full-time.

We also intend to run a programme of co-educational transition events throughout 2024/25 for parents and staff. We will keep you updated on all our transition programme events in regular updates throughout the transition period.

Specifically, who will oversee the transition of the girls and girls’ staff moving to the Harrison Site?

The Executive Team will hold collective responsibility for the transition to ensure all areas of the School are managed effectively.

Will additional counselling support be provided to those who struggle with the transition?

We will have an experienced and dedicated team of counsellors ready to help pupils and staff who might be struggling with the change.

How will break time arrangements be managed to ensure that girls feel comfortable?

We will allocate social space for pupils throughout the School so that pupils can choose to spend down time indoors or outdoors.

How will safeguarding be managed?

The unified Merchant Taylors’ School will have a senior member of staff as Designated Safeguarding Lead supported by a team of deputies. We are reviewing our wider pastoral organisation into a Wellbeing Hub which will bring together medical provision, counselling, safeguarding, and pastoral care under the leadership of the Deputy Head [Pastoral].

How will you look after mental health in a coeducational environment?

There is good evidence that the mental health of both boys and girls is generally better in a co-educational environment: concerns about body image, friendships and relationships are often lessened by mixing boys and girls together.

We will continue with our strong PSHE/RSE programme, and our pupils will benefit significantly from being able to discuss and explore mental health topics in co-educational groups. We will be able to invest further in wellbeing.

Will you offer more PSHE classes?

We already have a strong PSHE/RSE programme in place and teaching our pupils about these topics together will give them a far better understanding of the different perspectives on relationships and sex. Pupils follow a carefully planned programme and as we bring the two Senior Schools together, we will review our schemes of work, providing important opportunities for some topics to be taught in coeducational groupings alongside single-sex sessions. Where and when appropriate, some sessions may be taught in different group/year group combinations.

What will the pastoral spaces look like?

We will be creating a range of pastoral spaces that the pupils can access to meet their individual needs and interests. Although many pupils enjoy the ‘common room’ environment, it does not suit all, and we will be creating indoor and outdoor areas where pupils can spend time quietly in smaller groups, as well as spaces to enjoy activities.

Pastoral spaces will be overseen by staff throughout break and lunchtimes, and pupil will always have members of staff directly available to talk to at all times.

What changes will there be to the House system?

Currently, each section of the School has a House system. Houses are a fundamental part of our culture and heritage, and a large part of each pupil’s identity, and it is vitally important that we preserve them. We will maintain the same busy programme of House activities, including House sport and singing. Houses will continue to be vertical. They will no longer form the pastoral organisation of the School but function as a structure for pupils of all ages to meet, work together and build the community structure within Merchant Taylors’.

How will a Head Boy/Head Girl Team be chosen and will this diminish opportunities for leadership?

We will continue to appoint Prefects, including a Head Boy and a Head Girl, via a system of application, interview and hustings as we currently do. This means that opportunities for leadership will not be diminished.

Will the Sixth Form still be role models for the younger pupils?

Absolutely. The Sixth Form will sit as a key element of our provision and the culmination of a Merchant Taylors’ education in which we have supported our pupils from age 4 – 18, helping prepare them for their entry into the world. The Sixth Form will continue to play the same vital leadership role in activities such as CCF, Music and Drama. Senior Prefects will have specific duties and will maintain a full pupil leadership role. Sixth Form pupils will also be more involved in running and leading councils, clubs and activities, and
will be more visible in our fundraising and volunteering programme.

How will lunchtime work with so many additional children?

There are several options for how we manage our lunchtimes, including staggered lunches (all of which would fall within a reasonable lunchtime window) and additional serving areas. We are working through the various options and will share more information on dining provision in the coming months.

If a pupil’s tutor is teaching across two sites, how will access to the tutor be assured?

All of our pupils will be kept informed of how and when they can access their tutor during the transition year.

Where will the Head of Year be based?

From 2025, the Heads of Section/Year will be based at the Harrison Site.

Leadership

Who will be the Head of Merchant Taylors’ School?

The current Executive Team structure remains in place pending the move to full co-education under Dr Michael Alderson.

Over the Summer and Autumn Terms, we will finalise the Executive and Management structure of the Senior School.

Will the Board of Governors remain the same?

Yes, the Board structure will continue in its current form.

Staff

When will staff know what is happening to their jobs?

There will be no immediate change to staffing structures. Most staff already teach across both Senior Schools and this is the natural development. Any changes that will be required for September 2025 will be supported via the work currently underway to develop the new co-educational timetable for all pupils and the appropriate consultation process.

How will staffing changes be handled?

Any change to roles will be managed through an HR consultation process. Any staff member who has concerns can speak to their line manager.

Will contracts have to change?

No, as all staff are employed by Merchant Taylors’ Schools rather than an individual school.

There is currently a HOD in each School for each subject. How will this work?

This is not relevant as we have now aligned our academic management processes and procedures. An overarching HOD for each subject will be in place by September 2024.

What happens if a member of staff would like a change?

The School will make available its proposed staffing structure in the coming months. As such, all staff, where appropriate, will have the opportunity to reflect on their current roles and/or can make the most of new opportunities as and when they arise throughout the transition process.

Will the staff be working across both sites?

Yes, staff will continue to work across both sites during 2024-25 when necessary. Our initial modelling of the timetable indicates that with the Sixth Form based entirely at the Harrison Site, transitions should reduce for staff and clearly for pupils.

If any member of staff has mobility issues that might make the journey difficult, we will work with them to identify a solution as we currently do.

How will staff from the two Schools be supported with regard to working together?

Staff will receive a regular communication to ensure they are kept up to date with progress and there will be a number of staff events and training planned to support this change. In addition, there will be briefing sessions for all staff to ask any questions which they may have individually.

In addition the Common Room and Colleagues’ Forum meetings continue as normal.

Structure and Organisation

What will be the size of the new co-educational Senior School?

Our pupil forecasts indicate that our Senior and Sixth Form pupil numbers combined will be in the region of 800-850.

How many classes will there be per Year Group?

We anticipate currently that there will be 6 classes per year in Y7-11.

How many pupils will be in each Form Group?

We do not envisage any significant changes to class sizes. We will support children currently in vertical groups in the transition to the horizontal organisation.

How many pupils will there be in each teaching group?

We do not envisage any significant changes to class sizes.

How will the Tutor Groups be structured?

Each Tutor Group will have a Tutor overseeing their pastoral care and academic progress and this Tutor will be the main contact point for the pupil and parents. We believe that it is vitally important to build up a good working and personalised knowledge of each pupil and to develop strong pastoral relationships.

Will my daughter be in a form group with older boys?

No, all classes and Tutor Groups will be horizontal in nature.

What will the Sixth Form provision look like?

The plan was always for a fully co-educational Sixth Form from September 2024, and we are on track to deliver this with all pupils based at the Harrison Site. We are in the process of finalising our curriculum offer for the Sixth Form for implementation in September 2024.

We are reviewing the structure of the timetable to give the Sixth Form more time for enrichment activities, from clubs to volunteering, and at the same time give pupils more learning time in their academic programmes. We will establish an exceptional Futures Programme, to support pupils in making the right choices for their next steps into work or study.

Site

What changes are being made to adapt current facilities to co-educational facilities?

A programme of refurbishment and development is already underway to accommodate the change. The School will be in a strong financial position so can commit to a continual programme of capital investment and re-development of its facilities.

Specifically, our ongoing £5m Estates development plan includes:

• The complete renovation and transformation of the former John Bebb House into new classroom and tutoring spaces.

• Refurbishment of our Science facilities in the Luft Building, including new state-of-the-art laboratories.

• A programme of general classroom upgrades, ensuring that the School provides a high-quality learning environment for all our pupils.

• New toilet and changing facilities for girls.

• Further investment is also planned for the modernisation and expansion of our Art and DT, Music and Sports facilities.

All development will be outlined in our forthcoming 2024-2040 Estates Strategy.

How will the Harrison Site accommodate these numbers?

Historically, the site has already supported similar numbers when the Junior Boys were accommodated there. The site has also benefitted from significant investment in recent years. We have modelled teaching and space usage to make sure our timetable and use of facilities are as effective and efficient as possible.

How will larger numbers on one site be accommodated for public examinations?

We are confident that we can provide adequate space within our halls to accommodate all pupils taking public examinations.

How will a whole school assembly be accommodated?

We are reviewing our daily programme so that we can increase the opportunities for the School community to gather together; in the first instance, assemblies will happen within key-stage groups which allow us to address topics in age-appropriate way.

What about additional female toilet facilities and changing rooms on the Harrison Site?

We are developing the number of toilets and changing rooms for female use at the Harrison Site in advance of September 2024 and September 2025.

Is there any plan for the Prep to be on the Harrison Site?

No. The Stanfield Site provides outstanding and attractive facilities for primary education and is located close to the Harrison Site.

What will happen to Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ site?

It is our intention to sell the site and invest the proceeds into the redevelopment of the school estate.

Will there be sufficient parking arrangements for staff and visitors?

We are currently in an advanced stage of discussion regarding additional parking facilities for staff and visitors and will share details with you in due course.

Will there be adequate arrangements for drop off by parents? How will you manage the additional traffic around the school during drop off/pick up times?

Yes, these operational details will be communicated as the academic year progresses. Current buses begin collection at the Harrison Site and, therefore, this will not increase traffic at drop off/collection.

Will there be any changes to the bus routes?

There will be no change to bus routes. However, we do regularly review our transport routes to ensure that we meet the needs of all our pupils.

Will pupils need to move between sites?

From September 2025 this will no longer be required.

Will there be common rooms for each Year Group?

We are discussing how each year group might have an allocated social space in which to spend their leisure time and will update you on progress as our discussions develop.

Will there be additional events to enable the community to look around the Harrison Site?

Yes, from Autumn 2024 we will have a full programme of events to ensure the community is familiar with the site.

Community

Will the views of the community be taken into account moving forward?

Yes, you are all invited to participate in a community-wide collaboration. We will be taking all views into account as we progress the implementation of coeducation. In particular, we will be engaging with Y6 and their families as this is the year group which will be most impacted by the change.

How will the community be kept updated on the progress of the merger?

We will publish regular updates on how the change to co-educational is progressing to ensure our community is kept up to date. We have created a separate website which will detail the plans and contain regular updates as a single, central location for all information.

History & Heritage

What about the Merchant Taylors’ Senior Schools’ long history of single-sex education?

Everything that makes a Merchant Taylors’ education for both girls and boys so valued will be incorporated fully into the traditions of the newly created co-educational Merchant Taylors’ School. We will stay in touch with our alumni community as these plans develop.

How will you protect the history and heritage of Merchant Taylors’?

We recognise that our 400-year heritage and School traditions are hugely important to our alumni and they will continue to be a vital part of our culture and identity.

We are seeking to incorporate a permanent display on the Harrison Site to celebrate the history of each of the Senior Schools. All of the artefacts and documents that relate to the history of the Schools will be carefully preserved by the School Archivist and will continue to be displayed just as they are at the moment. For example, at alumni reunions.

We recognise that over the years some key aspects of our traditions have fallen by the wayside and we will use this transitional phase to engage with former pupils to identify which aspects of tradition we should preserve and reinstate. We are committed to maintaining the key traditions that are important to our community and also look forward to creating new ones together.

Will there be a joint alumni association going forward?

We will be collaborating with the Council of the Old Boys and the Committee of the Old Girls to make sure that future generations of Merchant Taylors’ alumni continue to have access to the same excellent supportive network and resources.

What will happen to the Honours Boards?

They will be retained and proudly displayed on the Harrison Site. They are a physical representation of our history and will be retained alongside new boards for co-educational honours.

How will the School Song be adapted?

Traditionally, the School Song has been sung only by the Boys; in moving to co-education, we hope all pupils will sing the song, and will look at how we can mark this important landmark in the School’s history.

Admissions

How will the move to a co-educational senior school affect children joining Y7 in September 2024?

Please refer to the Change Table in the FAQS booklet (below).

Will pupils still be able to progress automatically from Prep to Senior?

Yes, there will no application for 11+ entry to Senior and no formal entry assessment.

For families who have received an offer for 2024: will the deadline be extended to allow additional ‘thinking’ time?

We will extend the deadline for current Y6 to 25th May 2024 because the date of implementation of this move is September 2025. This gives families the opportunity to make any changes to their decision.

Finances

What impact will the change have on fees?

We have undertaken detailed financial modelling as part of the decision-making process surrounding becoming fully co-educational and do not anticipate any increase in fees as a result of the creation of a co-educational Senior School. However, fee increases may happen because of increased operational costs but we hope that these can be kept to minimum.

Affordability for parents was factored into our deliberations to minimise and manage the impact of our operating model on future tuition fee levels. Re-modelling our operating structure to become co-educational will provide greater operational and financial efficiency.

What impact will the change have on scholarships and bursaries?

For pupils in receipt of a scholarship or bursary, there are no changes to scholarship or bursary grants.

Will the increased financial security that creating a co-educational senior school is going to provide, allow the School to remain in TPS and prevent VAT on fees being passed on to parents?

All organisations have been responding to significant changes since the 2008 financial crisis and especially, the challenges of the last three years. The Governors of Merchant Taylors’ are committed to securing the long-term financial health of the School while developing the quality of our offering through fiscal responsibility; agility and adaptability are at the heart of this. Clearly, this move creates greater financial efficiencies but does not provide a guarantee against unforeseen or additional financial changes. It will, however, enable us to develop the quality of our offering and outreach.

FAQs Booklet