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Eton should admit girls, says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

David Parker

By David Hughes, PA Political Editor

Girls should be allowed to attend Eton College, the Education Secretary has said.

Eton is one of the UK’s most prestigious public schools, with former pupils including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it would be a “great step forward” if the school admits female pupils.

The school was founded in 1440 by Henry VI and Mr Johnson is the latest in a long-line of Etonians who have become prime minister.

David Cameron, Harold Macmillan and William Gladstone are among the 20 prime ministers who attended the school.

Mr Williamson, who attended Raincliffe Comprehensive School in Scarborough, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I would be very much in favour of Eton taking girls.

“I think that would be a good step forward.”

Downing Street said that it was a matter for Eton whether it chose to admit girls.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that, while single-sex schools were an important part of the education system, the Government would support Eton if it decided to change.

“We have said consistently single-sex schools are an important of our diverse education system and it is right that parents have the opportunity to make decisions about the type of school that their children attend,” the spokesman said.

“If Eton were to become a mixed-sex school we would obviously support that decision but it is a matter for Eton as an independent school to set their own admission criteria.”

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