Kerrie McDiarmid, rector of St. Clare, heads St. Mary’s Cathedral College

The headmistress of St Clare’s College, which is all girls, has been appointed the new headmaster of one of Sydney’s oldest all-boys schools, which is preparing to become fully co-educational.

Kerrie McDiarmid will take on the role as principal of St. Mary’s Cathedral College, the historic inner-city boys’ school that is set to expand to a 12th-grade co-ed campus after more than a century of single-sex education from a kindergarten.

Kerrie McDiarmid is the new Principal of St Mary's Cathedral School.

Kerrie McDiarmid is the new Principal of St Mary’s Cathedral School.
Recognition:Nick Moir

She will be the first woman to head the college – the oldest of 150 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney – which is the alma mater of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who campaigned there with Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher in the week before the election .

“Bringing boys and girls together in a school with such a long history is a real opportunity to prepare them for the world after they graduate,” said McDiarmid.

The proposal to move the school, which was founded in 1824 and was run by three different religious orders until 2016, into a mixed school was made to the parents in June. If given the green light, it will expand into a kindergarten and 12th-grade co-ed school with a second city campus nearby and a capacity to double enrollment to up to 1,400 students.

St Mary’s is part of a wave of Sydney’s all-boys schools being converted to co-education: Cranbrook, which has been a boys-only school for more than a century, will be co-educational from 7th to 12th grade. Newington, another high-fee private school for boys, offered a coed proposal to parents earlier this year. Barker and The Armidale School have been tutored together for the last decade.

Anthony Albanese was campaigning at St. Mary's College in the run-up to the election.

Anthony Albanese campaigned at St. Mary’s College in the run-up to the election. Recognition:Alex Ellinghausen

“I don’t see all schools taking the coeducational route, but for this school it makes perfect sense. There is a demand for this in the [inner-city] and there has been a definite movement towards shared experience. We want to produce well-rounded students who have the skills and perspectives, such as respect, collaboration and initiative, that will allow them to thrive in school and after graduation,” said McDiarmid.

St. Mary’s, which charges $5,189 for 12th grade, would be the fifth new co-ed school established under Sydney Catholic Schools in the past 10 years. A proposal to convert De La Salle Senior College in Cronulla into a coeducational school serving grades 7-12 is being consulted by parents, while De La Salle in Ashfield is set to merge with a neighboring all-girls school, Bethlehem College. Kerrie McDiarmid, rector of St. Clare, heads St. Mary’s Cathedral College

Joel McCord

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