Sister urges girls to go to university
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
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.
Senior students of St Anne's School in 1920.