THIS WEEK IN 1972: Tradition ends with first female students

St John’s College, Southsea, a male bastion for the previous 60 years, was admitting girls to its sixth form for the first time.

Two girls were starting a two-year sixth form course, after passing their GCE O-Level’s at the Roman Catholic school where they had studied for the previous two years.

The headmaster, Reverend Brother Damian, emphasised the college was not going co-educational.

‘At the moment, we are playing this by ear,’ he said.

‘If a girl wants to join us and there seems to be good grounds for her to do so, then we will admit her.

‘In the case of our first pupils, their brothers were at the school.’

One of the young girls came from Brighton, where the school she was going to closed. And the other would have had to go to Southampton if she wasn’t allowed at St John’s College. 

‘The situation has not caused any problems and personally, I think it helps the sixth formers’ education to have some female company,’ added Brother Damian.  

However, the college became fully co-educational in 1996.