One of the oldest private prep schools in the North is throwing open its doors to girls up to age 13 as part of a new chapter.

Aysgarth School, near Bedale in North Yorkshire, currently offers co-education from nursery to pre-prep year three, for girls and boys, but has previously been restricted to boys from years four to eight.

The school, set up nearly 150 years ago, has announced the changes from September next year.

A spokesperson said: "Aysgarth Prep School, a beacon of academic excellence for boys for nearly 150 years, is delighted to announce its transformative decision to introduce co-education in years four to eight from September 2024. The governors’ decision to expand the co-educational model follows more than 30 years of successful co-education at Aysgarth’s Pre-Prep school, which teaches boys and girls from nursery to year three.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Aysgarth School is opening to girls up to 13

“Headmaster Jonathon Anderson, and his wife Hester, have huge experience in private education and lead an exceptionally talented team at Aysgarth, which enjoys a 50:50 male-to-female staff ratio compared to 15:85 in the UK primary sector.

“The Andersons emphasise that the governors’ decision was made following feedback from an in-depth 2023 parent survey, which indicated a strong desire for this change within the existing Aysgarth community."

Mr Anderson added: "This decision is about making our best even better. Aysgarth has a longstanding tradition of preparing boys for success at leading senior schools and beyond.

"With this expansion, we aim to provide the same exemplary educational experience for girls, ensuring they receive the finest opportunities, ambitious teaching, and celebrated pastoral care.

"Co-education will not affect Aysgarth’s fundamental principles and ethos: a commitment to providing equal opportunities for collaboration and competition, and to fostering an environment where children communicate effectively, disagree respectfully, and develop a broader perspective on diverse views."

The Prep school is predominantly a boarding school, with youngsters attending Saturday lessons and a daily chapel service.

The school was originally founded by Rev. Clement Thomas Hales in the village of Aysgarth, in 1877, but when the school outgrew its original site, a new building at Newton-le-Willows, near Bedale was opened in 1890.