A LEADING public school will open fully to girls for the first time in its 450-year history.

Shrewsbury School said it would accept girls from 2014 as part of an ambitious plan to improve the school’s reputation by 2020 when admissions will be approximately 65 per cent boys and 35 per cent girls.

The school's sixth form turned co-educational in 2008.

Headtacher Mark Turner said: “The move to educate girls in the sixth form was controversial in 2008 but the experience and results have proven the wisdom of that decision and few would deny that the school is a stronger and more successful community today.

“In September this year we admitted a record number of pupils, which shows that parents value the Shrewsbury experience and the direction we are taking.

“The decision to move to full co-education is a natural development which reflects
the realities of today’s world, where our students go on to co-educational universities and develop careers in an equal opportunities environment.”

The 2020 development plan, which is led by Mr Turner, has received the unanimous support of governors.

Chairman of governors, Richard Burbidge, said: “This is an exciting, ambitious but achievable plan for the school’s future, designed to ensure we retain our position as one of the country’s foremost independent schools.

“The plan builds on the school’s traditions and ethos, which have evolved since our foundation in 1552, and places these in the context of the increasingly competitive and challenging world for which we need to equip our pupils, by providing them with best possible all round education.”

A committee will now consult on the detail before reporting back to the governors at their meeting in November.

The school is planning to implement a multi-million pound investment programme to refurbish existing premises and develop new facilities.

Detailed plans will be unveiled later this year.

Former pupils, known as Old Salopians, include Charles Darwin, Sir Philip Sidney, John Peel, Nevil Shute, Michael Palin, Richard Ingram, Paul Foot and Willie Rushden.

Shrewsbury was one of the nine Clarendon Schools, which also included Eton, Winchester, Harrow and Rugby, established under the 1868 Public Schools Act.