BOYS will be joining the girls at an independent school in Bournemouth.

Wentworth College in Southbourne will take boys for the first time next September and in doing so will become the only mixed independent senior school in Bournemouth.

Assistant head teacher Colin Hancock described it as a "brave" decision by the governors and said that so far the school had not received a single complaint from parents.

Boys will join as day pupils in years seven, eight and nine and the first year of the sixth form, year 12.

Mr Hancock said the school had interviewed 33 parents before taking the decision and none had any objections.

He said: "We have been asked by parents for many years whether we would consider taking boys."

Another reason for the move is the falling number of school children in the area.

Wentworth College currently has 160 pupils, of whom 40 are boarders. Five years ago there were 205 pupils with 49 being boarders.

Parents were invited to a cheese and wine evening, where they were invited to put any questions they may have had.

Mr Hancock said that the school had already had many enquiries from the parents of boys keen to join the school.

He added that the school would be hiring a new physical education teacher for the boys.

Head teacher Sandra Coe explained to parents in a letter: "Wentworth College will remain a centre of educational excellence where every student is given the best possible foundation for life at university and beyond.

"We want boys to be part of this vision and look forward to welcoming them."

The school was formed from a merger of two girls' schools in 1962.

The first was Milton Mount College, founded in 1871, originally sited near Gravesend and then relocated to Worth Park near Crawley.

The second, Bournemouth Collegiate School, was established in 1899 in the town centre and moved to Wentworth Lodge in 1923.