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Girls' day school trust

The meaning of «girls' day school trust»

The Girls' Day School Trust (GDST) is a group of 25 independent schools – 23 schools and two academies – in England and Wales, catering for girls aged 3 to 18. It is the largest group of independent schools in the UK, and educates 20,000 girls each year.[1] It was formed in 1872 to provide affordable day-school (non-boarding) education for girls as The Girls' Public Day School Company (1872–1905), then The Girls' Public Day School Trust (1906–1998).

The GDST is a registered charity. In 2016–17 it had a gross income of £261 million,[2] making it one of the 20 largest charities in the UK.[3]

The origins of the GDST can be traced back to the Schools Enquiry Commission set up in 1864 to survey the field of male and female secondary schools, which concluded that there was a "general deficiency" in the provision of secondary education for girls.[4]

The challenge to provide education for girls aged over ten was tackled by Maria Grey and her sister Emily Shirreff, who had previously published Thoughts on Self Culture, which pointed out the shortage of education for women in England.[5] In November 1871 the sisters launched the "National Union for improvement of the Education of Women of All Classes", later the Women's Education Union.[6][7] The Union aimed to establish good and cheap day schools for all classes of girls above the level of elementary education and was the leading force behind the formation of the Teachers’ Training and Registration Society and the Girls' Public Day School Company.[8] The Union was supported by many major figures of the time, notably Henrietta Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley, Mary Gurney, and Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, who became the President of the Union.[9]

The Union planned to create a limited liability company to raise revenue to achieve their aims and presented the proposed scheme at a public meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1872.[10] The new company was registered as the Girls’ Public Day School Company (GPDSC) with a nominal share capital of £12,000. Many of the figures involved in the Women's Education Union also were key figures in the creation the GPDSC including Maria Grey, Emily Shireff, Mary Gurney and Lady Stanley. HRH Princess Louise became the patron of the GPDSC. Members of the founding council included David Graham Drummond Ogilvy, fifth Earl of Airlie, GPDSC's first president; Henrietta Powell; Sir George Bartley; Douglas Strutt Galton; Sir Walter James, second baronet; Joseph Payne; James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth; Charles Savile Roundell; and the Marquess of Lorne.[11]

The GPDSC's aim was to establish academic high schools for girls of all classes which provided a high standard of academic education, together with moral and religious education. School fees were kept low and schools were expected to become self-supporting as soon as possible, though the GPDSC council retained overall control of the schools.[12] The policy of the Council, the executive body of the GPDSC, was to only found new schools where they were most needed, funded by shares taken up by local people. The first school opened at Durham House, Chelsea in January 1873 (later transferred to Kensington and is now Kensington Preparatory School).[13] In February 1875 the GPDSC opened Norwich High School for Girls, its first school outside London. By 1905 the GPDSC owned 37 school across the country, including 19 schools in the London area.

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