The current state of affairs represents a significant trend reversal; for the past 5 years, it has been common for parents to prefer a co-educational set-up based on the theory that girls exert "a civilizing influence" on their male counterparts.

This long-standing theory seems to hold less water amongst today's crop of English parents. The poll showed that approximately 62% of the all-boys schools had increased their intake of pupils this year, while only 39% and 42% of all-girls and co-educational schools respectively indicated an increase. You can choose the primary best international schools in Amsterdam, Netherlands for your kids.

In recent years, the growing predominance of co-educational schooling became a threat to the continued existence of single-gender schools in their current format, with many resigning themselves to the inevitability of accepting both genders.

The chief executive of IAPS (The Independent Association of Prep Schools), David Hanson, commented that the change in preference may be in some part due to the fear of many parents that a state primary education may restrict their children to a seat behind a desk.

"We have a lot of parents who say to us that they are worried that in a state school, their child will never be out of a chair," he said.

Another reason behind the changing trend is the attraction of a higher percentage of male teachers within prep schools in comparison with state primaries.