« ForrigeFortsæt »
In 1862 a small Committee, with Miss Davis as Secretary, obtained permission for girls to be examined informally, “as an experiment," on the papers set for the boys in the Cambridge Local Examinations started for them four years previously.
In this informal examination 30 out of 44 seniors failed in Arithmetic.
A memorial was next sent to the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge from about 1,000 persons engaged and interested in education praying for the formal admission of girls to the Local Examinations. This was granted; and in 1865 the examination was held in six towns, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester, London and Sheffield. 127 Senior Candidates entered, 90 passed and only three failed in Arithmetic. A great change was working-the evils of the want of education, the abuses of the cheap day schools and the miserable provision made for teaching were not only recognised, but were beginning to be remedied.
In 1865 a Royal Commission was making enquiries into the condition of Boys' Secondary education. There was still no mention of, or thought for the girls. Another memorial was drawn up praying that girls' schools might be included in the enquiry.
This too was granted, and among the ladies invited to give evidence before the Royal Commissioners were Miss Davis, Miss Beale, and Miss Buss. The Royal Commission was followed by the appointment of eight commissioners who visited selected districts to report on the Girls' Schools. Great difficulties were experienced in getting information. What was collected came presumably from the best Schools. How bad
must have been the worst!
The Report issued in 1867 brings the indictment which has become familiar, from its place for so many years on the prospectus of the Girls' Public Day School Company :—
"Want of thoroughness and foundation; want of system; slovenliness and showy superficiality; inattention to rudiments;
undue time given to accomplishments and those not taught intelligently or in any scientific manner; want of organization."
How could it be otherwise when the teachers were neither taught nor trained, and when the majority of the "establishments for young ladies" were kept by persons who had not even a rudimentary knowledge of the duties they professed to undertake?
School Text Books, including Miss Richmal Mangnall's Questions, are universally condemned. The teaching is said to be poor, and there is no external standard to act as a stimulus to the learner and help the teacher. But there is also in the Report a general recognition of the latent capacities of the girls and a lament over the want of opportunity and encouragement to develop them.
The crying needs were for better schools, for endowments and for more competent teachers.
Government had enquired but would do no more. The remedy was left to private enterprise; and, most happily for those who have come after, the women and the men with the brains to understand what was wanted, and the capacity and courage to carry out the reforms, were at hand, and through their splendid work "Knowledge is now no more a fountain sealed."
The report of the Commission was published. Meetings were held, speeches made, notably by Mrs Grey, and in 1871 the next great step onwards was taken when Mrs Grey with the late Lady Stanley of Alderley, Miss Gurney and others, founded the "National Union for Improving the Education of Women of all Classes."
Among the objects the Union had in view two were specially mentioned.
I. To promote the establishment of good and cheap day Schools for all classes above those attending the elementary schools, with boarding houses in connection with them, when necessary, for pupils from a distance.
2. To raise the social status of female teachers by encouraging women to make teaching a profession, and to qualify themselves for it by a sound and liberal education, and by thorough training in the art of teaching, and to secure a test of the efficiency of the teachers by examinations of recognised authority and subsequent registration.
The initial work of the Union was the foundation of the Girls' Public Day School Company.
This Company was inaugurated at a public meeting at the Albert Hall in 1872, and was formed with the object of obtaining capital to provide properly equipped schools.
The Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, signed the circular explaining the object of the Company, and became its "Patroness." Her interest in the Schools has never ceased, and has been shewn in many practical ways.
Among the promoters were Lady Stanley of Alderley, Miss Shireff, Mr Stone and Sir Douglas Galton, K.C.B., who have all passed away; Mrs William Grey, Miss Gurney, and Mr C. S. Roundell. To them and to those who worked with them, and who are now carrying on the work, England owes a great debt of gratitude.
The Council of the Girls' Public Day School Company inaugurated and developed the scheme of a network of schools all governed by the same Council, and yet each left to a certain extent free to grow and develop on its own lines in accordance with the individuality of its head and the requirements of the neighbourhood in which it is placed. The education supplied for girls was to be the best possible education; it was to correspond with that provided for boys in the great public schools; it was to be given at a moderate cost. The position of the Heads and Assistants and their relation to the Council was clearly defined. The Council chooses and appoints the Head Mistresses; the Head Mistresses select, and the Council appoint, the Assistants. The Assistants serve for a probationary term during which they can
be dismissed at one month's notice by the Head Mistress, without reference to the Council, but on sufficient cause to be reported to them. After the probationary term an agreement is signed and dismissal must follow two months' notice given by the Council.
This is a typical instance of the wise and statesmanlike view of its functions taken by the Council of the Company.
The internal organization of a High School is as follows: The pupils are divided into Forms, or arranged in divisions for special subjects. School hours are approximately from 9 to 1. In some schools work for the younger children stops at 12 and goes on between 2.30 and 4. Practical Chemistry and Greek are sometimes taken in the afternoon, as are piano, violin, dancing, and special drawing lessons. Lessons for the next day can be prepared at school or at home. Most carefully prepared tables of home work are made to suit the requirements of each girl, based on her position in the School, her ability and her power of work. That these are in some cases disregarded, and that “over-work” results, is in nine cases out of ten the fault of the home authorities.
The girl who comes to school young and learns from the beginning to work with method is rarely over-worked. It is the girl whose early years have been wasted by incompetent teachers, who comes to school at 14 or 15 or older, and finds herself handicapped by want of knowledge and method, who becomes over-anxious and then over-worked, and brings discredit on the whole movement.
In all Public Day Schools for Girls the Saturday holiday is universal. From the point of view of teachers and scholars it is an unmixed blessing.
The first of the Girls' Public Day School Company's schools was opened at Chelsea in 1873 with 16 girls. Notting Hill followed with 26, Croydon came next in 1874 with 82, Norwich and Oxford in 1875 with 61 and 59 respectively.
Now, in 1900, the Company possesses 33 schools, 15 of these being in and round London. The number of its pupils exceeds 7,100.
And while the Company was developing and adding to its schools other famous ones were springing up in many of the great towns. The battle for the endowments had been fought and won, so far as could be; and, following the Schools Enquiry Commission and the Endowed Schools Act of 1867 came the establishment of the great endowed schools of Manchester, Birmingham, Bedford and others. Some of these are old foundations worked on new schemes; others, at Manchester for example, are the outcome of the work of Associations formed for promoting the better education of girls.
To sum up:
Between 1862 and 1900 (only 38 years), the whole status of girls' education has been altered, and this vast improvement is due mainly to Miss Buss and to the Council of the Girls' Public Day School Company. Their example on points of organization and management has been widely followed in the constitution and establishment of other Companies and of local High Schools now scattered up and down the country. It is to the exceeding benefit of all that the first Council of the Girls' Public Day School Company was composed of men and women ready and willing to take a wide and generous view of their own duties and of the position of those to whom their schools were entrusted. Guidance the Head Mistresses can have if they ask for it, interference they need never fear as long as their schools are recognised as efficient and progressive.
I now pass on to some comparison between the subjects taught in the early High Schools and in those of to-day, and between the methods and results of the teaching.
The subjects are now in name very much what they were when the first prospectus of the Girls' Public Day School Company Schools was drawn up in 1872. In this Classics,