Catholic girls' school St Aloysius College will begin to enrol boys from 2023, becoming co-educational after more than 130 years of educating girls in North Melbourne.
The first intake of year 7 boys will commence in 2023, with the secondary school completing the transition to co-education across all year levels in 2028, the school said.
Girls high school St Aloysius College in North Melbourne will become co-educational from 2023, taking the recent lead of other inner-city Catholic schools.
But all girls who currently attend the school, or who enrol before 2023, will complete their education in all-girl classrooms.
St Aloysius College has been governed by the Sisters of Mercy since it opened in 1887.
The board of Mercy Education said the switch to co-educational learning would "reimagine Catholic education for the inner city".
"The outcome enables a Catholic co-education option that has long been recognised as a significant, unmet need in Melbourne's inner-city," Sister Sylvia Williams and Sister Eveline Crotty said on Wednesday.
Catholic schools educate about 20 per cent of Victorian students, but there are currently no co-educational schools in Melbourne's CBD, Docklands or inner north-west.
The sisters said they believed the decision "ultimately secures the long-term future of St Aloysius College".
It follows the recently announced merger of Catholic boys' school Christian Brothers' College St Kilda with Catholic girls' school Presentation College Windsor. The merged school has been named St Mary's College and will teach boys and girls from next year.
Presentation College Windsor abruptly announced its closure last year, blaming unsustainably low enrolments.
St Aloysius has also experienced a sharp drop in enrolments in recent years, according to the MySchool website, from 533 girls in 2016 to 453 last year.
The school said the decision had been researched for two years, but the announcement to the community had been deferred while it focused on remote learning during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Principal Mary Farah informed parents of the move on Wednesday and apologised for the delay in revealing the news.
"We acknowledge that this announcement is being made much later in the year than we had originally intended and we apologise for that," she wrote, adding that it was important to inform the current school community on-site, once coronavirus restrictions had been eased and VCE exams had concluded.
Ms Farah acknowledged that the announcement would provoke "a wide range of conflicting emotions".
"It is our hope that you will join us in embracing this direction as we prepare to extend our reputation for excellence in education to boys as well as girls," Ms Farah wrote to parents.
Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli gave the move his blessing in a recorded message.
"This is a big decision as you would be all aware, but it is also a forward-looking one and I welcome the decision of the Sisters of Mercy in this regard and their foresight towards the ongoing Catholic education of our young people," he said.
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