STROUD'S two grammar schools embarked on a new era of sixth form education this week.

Marling School and Stroud High School have returned to independent teaching of their sixth form students after 17 years of an integrated sixth form.

Pupils attending the neighbouring schools are now no longer taught together as a mixed sixth form.

The new term began this week, and saw girls admitted to Marling sixth form and boys to Stroud High sixth form.

Phoebe Loydell, who joined Marling from Kingshill School in Cirencester said: "I chose Marling sixth form because of the facilities it offers and because it felt so welcoming.

"I felt like I was part of the school the very first time I came here."

And Imogen Grover, who joined from Stroud High School, said: "I chose Marling sixth form because it was really important for me to be part of a co-educational sixth form.

"I am really pleased with my choice. Marling also offers music technology at A Level, which most other places don’t."

This September 60 girls have joined the school, making it the biggest intake the sixth form has ever had.

Head of Marling sixth form Steve Farr said: "We are delighted that so many students, both girls and boys, have chosen to join us this year.

"We firmly believe that a co-educational sixth form offers the right learning environment for all our A Level students and are glad that young people agree with us.

"Our current students benefit from 'Outstanding' teaching and they achieve positive Value Added results at A Level year-on-year. We can now extend this opportunity to more young people across the area."

Sarah Tapscott, head of Stroud High School's sixth form said: "What a brilliant first week it has been.

"I have been so impressed by how all of our students have started."

James, one of the new intake of boys at Stroud High School, said: "Everyone has been really welcoming, especially to us boys.

"Even after a few days I feel I can be myself."

Head of Stroud High Mark McShane said: "We are so excited with our new sixth form.

"We are proud that as a school we understand that education is for life and that the whole experience we provide enables our young people to believe that everything is possible.

"It is this outlook that means the students who join the school are part of a community which has both A-Level and GCSE results amongst the top 30 state schools in the country."

"Teaching staff have spent the last two years creating a learning experience which will ensure that both inside and outside of the classroom our students will not only be prepared for the demands of higher education, but more importantly, they will be ready to take a leading role in their community."