BOYS will study at all-girls Roedean School for the first time in its 135-year history – but only on a Wednesday evening.

The school has been a bastion of exclusively female education since it was founded in the 19th century to prepare girls for the rigours of newly opened Cambridge women’s colleges Girton and Newnham. It has produced a stream of actors, politicians, journalists, human rights campaigners, scientists and artists, many achieving firsts in their fields.

But 2020 has seen the arrival of boys at its imposing wooden doors overlooking the English Channel as they take part in the school’s Roedean Academy programme.

The programme invites Year 10 children from across Brighton and Hove to participate in lessons that stretch them beyond the national curriculum including genetic engineering, cryptology and the psychology of crime.

Each Wednesday evening 14 boys and 39 girls from local secondary schools visit Roedean to settle down to language code-breaking, philosophy and stats and hard maths sessions.

Stanley Bradley-Scott from Dorothy Stringer School said: “I think that Roedean’s academy is incredible – there is a massive range of modules, so you can be super sciency or you can be the complete opposite. My friends are curious to see what it’s actually like – we drive past here a lot and see this incredible building, but we never knew much about what was going on.”

Kumi Kemp from Longhill School said: “I thought Roedean would be a bit uptight with everyone following the rules exactly, but it’s completely different – everyone’s really friendly. It’s got opportunities for everyone, no matter what you want to do.”

Roedean pupil Lola Clarke loves the co-ed nature at the academy. She said: “It’s great to participate in discussions with people who are bringing in new ideas and new perspectives. I think that Old Roedeanians would be really proud that we are able to have this experience of working with boys sometimes.”

Headteacher Oliver Blond said: “We have been running the Roedean Academy for quite a few years now and we just saw no reason why boys from the city couldn’t start enjoying the classes too. They are tackling subjects that stretch and challenge them and go beyond what’s on the curriculum and what they need to know to pass GCSEs. It’s learning just for the love of it – something Roedean has done throughout its history – and we have seen children absolutely loving it.”

However, there was one hiccup. Blond laughed: “When I was giving a welcome talk, one boy raised his hand to ask where the toilets were and it only then occurred to us that there were no boys’ toilets in the school at all.”

Staff toilets, of course, were made available.