Barker will begin the transition to full coeducation with the introduction of girls into Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten in 2018, from Year 3 in 2019 and from Year 7 in 2020.
Why has Barker decided to transition to a fully coeducational school?
Most Independent schools, including Barker, were established well over 100 years ago, and in a very different world and with very different attitudes towards the roles of men and women. Given the changing world we live in and the stereotypes that can develop in single sex environments, we are of the view that coeducation and a more inclusive and diverse community, can go some way to addressing the challenges facing the Australian community.
Will my child benefit most from coeducational or single sex schooling?
We are not convinced that it is appropriate to expect our children to develop a real understanding of gender equity when from an early age they are separated and told they are different and cannot learn effectively together. Classroom teachers know that there is no ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ way of learning - all students learn in different ways and we should acknowledge that. Life outside school is for both genders and that parents should have choice. Some will choose coeducation and some will choose single sex. It’s a personal decision and should be based on the needs of the child. Parents know their child best. We all want our children to be happy, and a great school experience plays a significant role in that happiness.
How will Barker accommodate the additional students?
In 2017, the School commenced construction on new Prep classrooms which are due for completion by Term 4 2018. The new building will provide nine classrooms including ‘Maker Space’, a Piazza, parking and playground space for the children. Work on the Sports and Learning Precinct in The Avenue is expected to commence in May 2018 and be completed before the end of 2019. This is a significant and much needed facility that will bring everyone home again for indoor sports. Once completed, the Precinct will provide five indoor courts, 12 classrooms, 180 car spaces, amenities and community gathering spaces.
Existing buildings such as the Gamson PE Centre will be repurposed for new classrooms and learning spaces. Work has commenced on the internal layout of the R E Kefford building to alter classroom shape and design which will release a number of under-used spaces which will in turn create more classrooms. In addition, the Middle School area will shortly undergo a significant refurbishment, providing a dedicated Hub where students can meet, play and relax. New seating areas, expanded canteen, lockers and bathroom facilities will be constructed.
Will the introduction of girls in the Junior and Middle Schools mean an increase in the class sizes?
Whilst the student population will grow as we transition to a fully coeducational school, the class sizes will remain at their current numbers. At Barker we acknowledge that the academic and pastoral programs are intertwined and contribute significantly to a student’s positive school experience. Class sizes are certainly a key consideration within our Wellbeing program.
Will all classes be coeducational?
There may be occasions where for pastoral reasons, some classes will be single sex only as is currently the case. The majority of learning will take place in a coeducational setting as boys and girls learning together enables them to work cooperatively in environments not dissimilar to their future workplaces.
Will the Wellbeing programs change with the introduction of girls from Pre-K?
The development of positive self-esteem, the ability to set meaningful goals and a growing sense of resilience can be enhanced through a well organised and delivered pastoral system. With that in mind, the Thriving at Barker program has been developed with a clear and distinct focus on ensuring that all students have what they need to thrive; to grow, to inspire, to serve, to think critically and to be a learner fully engaged with the world around them.
In the Junior School, the class teacher will continue to be the primary pastoral carer, supported by specialist teachers and support staff. Dedicated Middle School Heads of House and Deans of Years will continue to ensure that every child is known and valued as an individual, as well as part of a community. The valued pastoral program in the Senior School will be retained as the School continues to foster strong bonds between student and teacher in which the students are treated as young adults.
Whilst the size of the School grows, the size of the pastoral units will remain the same at approximately 22 students, allowing for every Barker student to be cared for.
Will my child have access to a sufficient range of learning programs and facilities?
The activities and events that we offer each term at Barker are a reflection of our mission to inspire students, teachers and families to thrive and through this thriving to bring hope to others around us. All students deserve an enriched curriculum experience and, therefore, a range of academic enrichment programs at Barker are available to and accessible by ALL students. In addition to subject-based enrichment, Barker students have access to other learning programs that promote academic development.
Barker is fortunate to have a large campus with extensive green spaces for students to take advantage of. Facilities across the School are being expanded and upgraded in order to provide the best amenities for our students.
How will the current uniform change with the introduction of girls from Pre-K?
Giving students a choice is appropriate in a modern school and our designs for the refreshed uniforms from Junior, through Middle and the Senior Schools, will allow students to decide which items to wear from a core set. This takes into account changing climates, personal preference and activity levels.
The Barker stripe is an iconic part of our history and it is fitting that this be evident in the designs for our younger students’ uniforms. The Junior and Middle School girls’ uniforms will retain the much loved Senior dress and stripe, but bring with it a fresh new look. Similarly girls may choose to wear pants and we are pleased to be able to provide this choice. We are introducing a long pants option for boys as well in the Junior School, a nod to the changing Sydney climate in winter.
To complement the iconic and loved Baggy Blue, a hat for girls is being introduced with the acknowledgement that successive generations of Barker students have placed great value on their hat. We know that our Senior School students love their striped blazer and this will be retained and with a refreshed Senior uniform for girls, it will allow them to be able to wear their blazer and colours year round.
We are committed to providing a uniform that is uniquely Barker, one that students will take pride in wearing and that suits the range of activities in which our students are involved.
Did you know?
Coeducation was reintroduced at Barker in 1975, with 59 Year 11 girls
entering the School. Year 10 became coed in 2000.