Newington College divided over co-ed move as ‘old boys’ vote causes chaos

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Former Newington College students recently met to discuss the school’s controversial decision to make the all-boys school co-ed.

Newington plans to gradually transition to co-education by 2033, starting with allowing girls to enrol into the junior school by 2026.

Almost 1000 alumni of the school attended a meeting on Wednesday night to voice their concerns, vote on several resolutions and request that the decision becomes overturned.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that many attendees expressed their frustration at the meeting over the registration of girls at the school, and despite attempts to challenge the proposed resolutions, all five were eventually voted on. 

“We expected a brawl,”one attendee said.

“They fought us tooth and nail on voting, and then at the last minute they surrendered,” attendee Peter Thomas said.

protest
Parents protested on the first day of the school year, against the co-ed decision. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard.

Some who criticised the co-ed proposal include a group called Save Newington – they argued that the decision lacks transparency and proper consultation. They believe the move undermines the school’s reputation and community values. They further raised concerns about the impact on longstanding traditions and trust with students, parents and the school.

Despite some of the alumni opposing the school’s co-education decision, others support it, citing the evolving societal landscape.

The school administration viewed the meeting as an internal matter of the Old Newingtonians’ Union (ONU), indicating a difference in opinions within the broader alumni community.

Alex Pagonis
Alex Pagonis is the current president of the Old Newingtonians’ Union. Photo: LinkedIn.

The president of the Newington Old Boys’ Union (ONU) Alex Pagonis, chaired the meeting and one source claimed he “did a good job in difficult circumstances for him.”

Another student however, described it as an “anti-climax.”

The ‘Save Newington College’ cohort want to remove Pagonis from his presidency, and introduce a new leader – John Venetoulis.

Mr Venetoulis is a pharmacist, old boy and current parent, and he said the co-ed decision breached the school’s contract.

Newington College.
Newington College. Photo: IB Schools Australasia.

“They continuously said it wouldn’t happen in our lifetime… the College Council must honour their contract with parents,” Mr Venetoulis said.

The Newington Council chairman, Mr Tony McDonald allegedly wrote an email to former students that the school council is “saddened by the division within our alumni and the ONU.”

“I wish to emphasise that the motions put forward, if successful, will not affect the College’s vision and future direction,” he said in the email.

“No ONU Council is able to make or change decisions of College Council.”

Sources: The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph.

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