Secondary Education in England, 1870-1902: Public Activity and Private Enterprise

By John Roach | Go to book overview

21

Proprietary and other schools—2

In 1906 the Girls’ Public Day School Company (GPDSC), which had experienced problems about its status as a commercial company paying dividends, was converted into a trust (L. Magnus 1923:28-30; Kamm 1971:110). By that time a number of other high schools, established on similar lines by local groups, had been flourishing for a generation. A few examples will illustrate different aspects of the movement. Worcester High School opened in 1883 as the result of the efforts of W.J. Butler, a canon of the cathedral and earlier founder of the sisterhood of St Mary’s, Wantage, who had been impressed by the success of the GPDSC Oxford High School. The Worcester school had a religious basis with definite church teaching, and it developed successfully under an outstanding head, Alice Ottley (1883-1912), who resembled Miss Beale in her mixture of deep, rather mystical religious feeling and strong practical talent (James 1914; Noake 1952).

Bristol was a city where the commissioners had failed to set up a firstgrade school for girls, and Clifton High School was founded in 1877 to fill the gap. There was a strong link in the early days with the GPDSC group. Mrs Grey’s National Union had a branch there, and the first head, Miss M.A. Woods, had been head of the company’s Chelsea High School. The new school also had a close link with Clifton College, the headmaster of which, John Percival, had been one of the major promoters, and it enjoyed a solid constituency in the middle-class families of Clifton with their strong intellectual and philanthropic interests. The liberal outlook of the head, Miss Woods, is embodied in her three principles: that the school should be open to girls of good character without social discrimination, that both staff and pupils should enjoy religious freedom, that the school should be non-competitive without prizes, marks, or place-taking (Glenday and Price 1977).

Manchester High School was one of the most successful of these schools set up by civic groups. Among its founders were both Jews and Unitarians and when the scheme incorporating an endowment from the Hulme estates was being made (see p. 208), fears were expressed that insufficient protection was being given for the religious freedom which

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