Sis­ter urges girls to go to univer­sity

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - — IAN FRAZER

Don’t sell your daugh­ters short, the head of St Anne’s girls’ school tells par­ents in 1923, en­cour­age them to tackle se­nior stud­ies and univer­sity

STAY at school un­til 18 years and don’t rule out univer­sity, the pro­gres­sive head of se­nior stud­ies at Townsville’s new Church of Eng­land girls’ school chal­lenged her pupils in 1923.

Sis­ter Alice, a So­ci­ety of the Sa­cred Ad­vent nun, put her rad­i­cal case at St Anne’s Church of Eng­land School’s prize- giv­ing night on Au­gust 14, 1923.

“Be­fore con­clud­ing our re­ports, we should like to com­mend to the se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion of the par­ents of our chil­dren one mat­ter which is of­ten treated far too lightly, and that is the age at which a girl’s ed­u­ca­tion should cease,” she said in her an­nual re­port.

Sis­ter Alice, who be­gan work at the school in 1917 with fel­low Sa­cred Ad­vent nuns Sis­ter Ver­non and Sis­ter Frances, re­jected the con­ven­tion that girls needed just one or two years at sec­ondary school to be “fin­ished off” for so­ci­ety.

“This is quite a wrong idea,” she said.

“Girls should, if pos­si­ble, re­main at school ’ till they are 18, and then ei­ther go to the univer­sity or con­tinue their stud­ies in some other way for as many years as they can.

“To look at the mat­ter even from the com­mer­cial stand­point ( which is not the high­est), it is ev­i­dent that a high

Girls should, if pos­si­ble, re­main at school ‘ till they are 18

SIS­TER ALICE

rate of pay­ment de­mands a high stan­dard of ef­fi­ciency and a girl who is lack­ing in gen­eral ed­u­ca­tion is not likely to suc­ceed in any pro­fes­sion.”

Nine of the 10 stu­dents who sat for the ju­nior exam in 1923 had passed, but only three in­tended con­tin­u­ing to se­nior.

“To us it was dis­ap­point­ing and sur­pris­ing, that such a thing should hap­pen,” Sis­ter Alice said.

“Is North Queens­land al- ways go­ing to be con­tent with the stan­dard of ed­u­ca­tion set by the ju­nior public ex­am­i­na­tion? We hope not.”

Nev­er­the­less, she con­grat­u­lated the ju­nior grad­u­ates on their six mer­its, seven ex­ten­sion schol­ar­ships and two teacher’s schol­ar­ships.

Madge Har­ri­son, the sole se­nior grad­u­ate, had ma­tric­u­lated to study arts at the Univer­sity of Queens­land in Bris­bane.

Ded­i­cated by Bishop John Oliver Feetham on July 21, 1917, St Anne’s opened with 71 stu­dents in a house pre­vi­ously owned by a Dr Parkin­son, on the cor­ner of Stokes and Walker streets.

The Angli­can Dio­cese of North Queens­land re­port­edly paid £ 2000 for this man­sion, with Bishop Feetham con­tribut­ing £ 400 from his per- sonal sav­ings. Famed as a pi­o­neer of church schools, the bishop helped re­alise a longheld vi­sion for a girls’ school first can­vassed in 1881 by the fledg­ling dio­cese of North Queens­land.

In 1958, St Anne’s re­lo­cated to Eller­slie, Aitken­vale – pre­vi­ously the home of Townsville Mayor Wil­liam John Heat­ley.

In 1980, the school ad­mit­ted boys and was re­named the Cathe­dral School of St Anne and St James, which cel­e­brates its foun­da­tion to­day.

Pic­ture: JAMES COOK UNIVER­SITY SPE­CIAL COL­LEC­TIONS ARCHIVE

Se­nior stu­dents of St Anne's School in 1920.

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