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All change as Sophie starts at boys' school.

Byline: By Neil McKay

Sophie Gardner is preparing to make history.

Sophie, eight, will next month be one of the first girls to attend Bow prep school, Durham, since it opened for boys in 1885.

The school has changed its policy to admit girls and Sophie will be one of a batch of nine beginning the new term there.

Her mother, Ruth, of Park Road, Hartlepool, is an assistant at Bow, an independent school.

She said: "It will be quite a change for Sophie.

"At the school she has been going to in Hartlepool the girls heavily outnumbered the boys in her class.

"At Bow School there will only be three girls and 14 boys in her class."

Work is under way to build a girls-only room where Sophie and the other girls can escape if the boys become too boisterous.

Mrs Gardner said: "The girls will have their own room with a TV set. The school is also looking at trying out different sports, such as rounders and hockey, which girls and boys can both play."

Sophie's father, Mark, teaches IT at Durham School, which is next door to Bow.

Mrs Gardner said: "Sophie has had to stay with a childminder until we get home from work, but now she will be able to travel to and from school with us."

Sophie said: "I'm really excited about joining Bow, most of all the different activities and the food.

"I've tried it once on a taster day and it was great."

Mrs Gardner said: "We are proud to be part of this landmark in Bow's history."

Headteacher Nick Baird said: "This is a real cause for celebration."

Bow, which has pupils aged three-13, has merged with Durham School, which became fully co-educational in 1998.

Girls make up 25% of the intake there and Bow ( with nine girls and 125 boys ( hopes to catch up eventually.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 15, 2006
Words:315
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