I have seen some of the proposals and paperwork circulated to chorister parents by D, C & DOM.
They evidence a determination to balance the boys and girls in every way, to the extent of identical commitments, identical rewards (but only if the child lasts the course), and a Cathedral-focussed identity. I gather that parents have voiced some misgivings over the proposed structure, which entailed Saturdays devoted to practice which could last from 0930 to 1530. The costs would appear to be far more manageable for the Cathedral, with singing lessons being reduced in frequency by two thirds, all choral scholarships being discontinued w.e.f. December 2012, and a maximum benefit to choristers of £580 for six years service.
A larger boys choir gives more flexibility, of course, but I gather that it will no longer be mandatory for choristers (as there won't be choral scholars) to study two musical instruments. With choral practice sessions being cut by more than half, it is not unreasonable to expect the standard of the boy choristers to decline in the short term through the fall-out of current choristers, the demise of the choir school (a fertile recruiting ground in the past), and less demanding targets for musical accomplishment. I very much hope that the next year or two proves me wrong.
The equality thing is all very well (and all very CofE), but it has occurred to me from time to time that girls and boys differ! Their voices mature at different ages and speeds, and boy choristers have been known to require a little more help with self-discipline than their female counterparts. I also wonder if the high standards that I gather the girls choir have achieved may be in reaction to the high standards set by the boys 'old regime', and that a looser, less demanding regime for the boys may not result in a levelling off of (or even decline in) the girls standards.
I hope that the Cathedral can pull this off, but it does seem as if a framework has been constructed that is focussed exclusively to the Cathedral's ends. The paperwork proposed a consultation period for parents of a mere eleven days, and this at the beginning of the summer holidays! Mind you, cathedrals have been taking the goodwill of their choristers and parents for granted for decades, so Ripon parents should no doubt be grateful they were consulted at all!