Williamstown High School will not offer girls-only year 7 classes next year for the first time since 2001.
Parents and guardians enrolling children into year 7 for next year were only told on Wednesday via email that the girls-only class would not run in 2019.
Bayview campus principal Tamy Stubley stated in her email: “We have made this decision to best meet the needs of our community and to ensure the ratio of male to female students in each class is balanced”.
Simon Woolley, whose daughter is enrolled for next year, said the decision had upset parents who felt the school had not honoured a commitment to single-sex education.
The school’s website states that as part of the 2001 amalgamation with Point Gellibrand Girls’ Secondary College, it would honour the single-sex education that had been running for 75 years.
“A lot of people in Williamstown have chosen to enrol their girls into the girls-only stream,” Mr Woolley said.
“I happen to be one of those, having had another daughter who went through the girls-only stream a few years ago, all the way from year 7 through to year 12, and found it thoroughly enjoyable.
“The [school council], despite them knowing the gender balance from the applications received in May, decided two nights ago to cancel them [year 7 girls’ classes] based upon gender issues with enrolment numbers.
“We now do not have an opportunity to make applications to other single-sex schools because those applications are now closed.”
Other parents who expressed their disappointment with the decision did not want to speak publicly.
Williamstown High School principal Gino Catalano said only “a handful” of 275 families had expressed interest in the all-girls stream.
“There’s still some very passionate interest by a small number of individuals but there’s reduced interest and we’re basically needing
to accommodate the appropriate home
groups for all 275 of our closest families,” he said.
“We’re actually very committed to continuing the all-girls program, not only within the classroom but also beyond, but it has to be based on the demand for each year.
“We also have to ensure other classes are balanced because it’s a co-ed school.
“It’s quite clearly stated that there’s no guarantee that just because you’ve nominated an all-girls [stream] that you’ll be in there.
“Certainly, we will be creating co-ed classes that are well balanced.”
Mr Catalano said although families submitted their enrolment preferences in May, schools were only notified of final student numbers in late August.
“Then we look at what the families have requested and what we can provide.”