One of the country's top independent schools is to abandon a 453-year-old tradition by allowing girls into classes.
Shrewsbury School in Shropshire, which was founded by Edward VI in 1552, will start admitting girls into its sixth form from September 2007.
Headmaster Jeremy Goulding said: "I have no doubt at all that the presence of girls will bring invaluable cultural, social and academic richness to the life of the sixth form at Shrewsbury and to the school as a whole."
The 684-pupil school recently hit the headlines after the late Radio One DJ John Peel claimed he was raped by another pupil during his time there.
Mr Goulding said such behaviour would be " inconceivable" today given the greater emphasis on pastoral care of pupils.
The introduction of women into the school, where fees for full-boarders are more than £20,000 a year, is likely to further change its day-to-day life.
However, senior master Peter Fanning stressed there were no plans in the pipeline to extend mixed classes across the board.
"That would be a much more controversial decision and one we are not contemplating at the moment," he said.
"This is a move into the 21st century. It is in line with the thoughts of the headmaster and the staff that girls will bring a breath of fresh air both in and outside the classroom."
It is anticipated that a relatively small group of females will join the school in 2007, although it is hoped that about 100 girls will eventually attend classes.
Shrewsbury is one of several Midland independent schools that have gone co-ed in recent years. In September, Solihull School reversed its 400- year single-sex policy while last year Old Swinford Hospital in Stourbridge, which defines itself as a state boarding school, ended a 340- year tradition by allowing girls into its sixth form.
Rugby School became coeducational in 1993 after first accepting girls into the sixth form and Bromsgrove School accepted its first girls in 1976.