New vote in Newington College’s co-ed brawl draws more than 1000 old boys to dramatic showdown

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Sarah Blake
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Parents and old scholars hold placards during a protest against Newington College's decision to transition to co-ed, in Sydney, Wednesday, January 31.
Parents and old scholars hold placards during a protest against Newington College's decision to transition to co-ed, in Sydney, Wednesday, January 31. Credit: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

The drama over elite Sydney boys school Newington College’s push towards a co-ed model drew a crowd of more than 1000 old boys to a dramatic no-confidence vote in its principal on Wednesday night.

The special general meeting of the Old Newingtonian’s Union was called in February in an effort by some disgruntled former students to prevent the school from moving forward with plans to admit girls to the school from 2026.

With Wednesday night’s crowd far exceeding the number of 300 ballot papers printed for the vote and causing an hour-long delay, convenors from both sides said they had called in scrutineers overnight to supervise counting and would announce a result on Thursday.

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The meeting was to vote on several matters including no-confidence motions in headmaster Michael Parker and the ONU’s leadership, and was sparked by a group of 20 union members who remain opposed to the co-ed move.

They also voted on the move to co-education, which has sparked bitter division at the 160-year-old inner west boys school, where tuition costs up to $40,000 a year.

Parents and former students have protested outside Newington College, after the Sydney private school announced it would be going co-ed by 2033
Parents and former students have protested outside Newington College, after the Sydney private school announced it would be going co-ed by 2033. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Video footage from a protest outside the school in February went viral when some of the school’s old boys were brought to tears over the issue.

There were similar dramatic scenes at Wednesday night’s vote at the Wesley Conference Centre in Pitt St, Sydney, where some of the attendees wore “Save Newington” badges and one man reportedly became agitated the meeting was starting before everyone was in the room and was warned he would be asked to leave.

The former students voted on five questions: no confidence motions in the school principal, the ONU council and the Newington College school council and a vote for a new ONU council. The ballot also called for the ONU counci to use “ all available measures to see the reversal of the decision” to move to coeducation.

It comes after a messy public brawl over moving to co-ed at eastern suburbs boys school Cranbrook that wound in some of Australia’s biggest names.

More to come.

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