LORETTONIAN sisters and daughters of Old Lorettonians will become

things of the past after one of Britain's most distinguished independent

schools confirmed yesterday that it is to go fully co-educational.

Until now, girls have been able to gain entry only to the sixth form,

for 16 to 18-year-olds, at Loretto School in Musselburgh, Midlothian.

From September next year, however, they will be able to attend the

Nippers junior school for boys aged eight to 13, and compete for places

in the upper school at 13, an entry age which has been the preserve of


Boarding fees for the upper school are #10,575 a year and #8175 for

the Nippers. Day fees are respectively #7050 and #5451 a year. There are

310 upper school pupils and 75 nippers.

The Loretto headmaster, the Rev. Norman Drummond, said yesterday that

the school was answering a demand from parents to educate their

daughters as well as their sons.

Boarding schools throughout Britain have suffered because of the

impact of the recession on parental incomes but Mr Drummond said the

decision had not been taken for economic reasons.

In a letter to parents and former pupils, he explains: ''Since the sad

closure last summer of Oxenfoord Castle School, where so many

Lorettonian sisters and daughters of Old Lorettonians were educated over

the years, we have come under increasing pressure to consider making

Loretto fully co-educational from the Nippers onwards.''

Present and future Loretto parents would, says Mr Drummond, like their

daughters to benefit as much as their sons from an all-round education

at the school.

The school's governors had concluded that ''this is now the best and

most natural way forward in preparing our young Lorettonians for an

increasingly co-educational world beyond school.''

Mr Drummond says the school has been ''very fortunate'' in sustaining

record boarding numbers while not becoming too large. However, to meet

the co-educational challenge, the school would be enlarged to provide

accommodation for girl boarders aged 13 and over, while the two Nipper

boarding houses would be refurbished to house boys and girls separately.

''Those of us who know Loretto and have its best interests at heart

will recognise that we have been mightily blessed over the years. We now

move with confidence into a new and challenging phase of the school's

development and look forward to that constant and continuing level of

support from Loretto Families and Old Lorettonians which has so

characterised our history,'' concludes Mr Drummond.

The school is described in the Equitable Schools Book guide to

independent secondaries as one of the most distinguished in Britain.

Among its former pupils are former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman

Lamont, Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser

of Carmyllie, United Biscuits chairman Lord Laing, and former world

motor racing champion Jim Clark.