SIC Report: Education of Girls (1867-8)

This page contains Chapter 6 of the Schools Inquiry Commission Report, Vol.1, 1867-8, pp.546-70 as reprinted in D Beale's 1870 book of extracts from School Inquiry Commission Reports.

Page numbers are from the Beale reprint.

Anything added to the text by way of explanation is shown [in square brackets].


Schools Inquiry Commission Report
Volume 1 Chapter 6 (1867-8)

(Reprinted as Chapter 1 in Reports issued by the Schools' Inquiry Commission on the Education of Girls by D Beale, Principal of the Ladies' College, Cheltenham. London: David Nutt 1870).


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CHAPTER I

GIRLS' SCHOOLS

We have thought it our duty to inquire separately into the subject of Girls' Schools, and we have devoted this Chapter to that branch of the question.

On the gravity of it, it is needless to dwell. In our notice of Christ's Hospital we have quoted the authority of Mr. Hare in support of the opinion that an educated mother is even of more importance to the family than an educated father; and no one of reflection will controvert these words of Mr. Lingen: 'If one looks to the enormous number of unmarried women in the middle class, who have to earn their own bread, at the great drain of the male population of this country for the army, for India, and for the colonies, at the expensiveness of living here, and consequent lateness of marriage, it seems to me that the instruction of the girls of a middle-class family, for any one who thinks much of it, is important to the very last degree.' Mr. Fraser quotes a weighty opinion of Tocqueville, that the chief cause of the prosperity of the United States is the superiority of their women.

It is true that this conviction, as relating to the Middle Classes, may be looked on as recent and still growing, and as one which still greatly needs to be inculcated on, and accepted by parents of that class. We have had much evidence, showing the general indifference of parents to girls' education, both in itself and as compared to that of boys. (1) It leads to a less immediate and tangible pecuniary result; there is a long-established and inveterate prejudice, though it may not often be distinctly expressed, that girls are less capable of mental cultivation, and less in need of it, than boys; that accomplishments, and what is showy and superficially attractive, are what is really essential for them; and in particular, that as regards their relations to the other sex and the probabilities of marriage, more solid attainments are actually disadvantageous rather than the reverse.

These considerations will not affect the character of the recommendations we shall offer. But it must be fully admitted that such ideas as we have referred to, have a very strong root

(1) [No footnote appears on this page.]


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in human nature, and that with respect to the average, nay to the great majority of mankind, it would be idle to suppose that they would ever cease to have a powerful operation. Parents who have daughters will always look to their being provided for in marriage, will always believe that the gentler graces and winning qualities of character will be their best passports to marriage, and will always expect their husbands to take on themselves the intellectual toil and the active exertions needed for the support of the family. 'The ideal presented to a young girl,' says an able writer, Miss Davies, 'is to be amiable, inoffensive, always ready to give pleasure and to be pleased.' The statement may be exaggerated, but that the feeling it describes will ever cease to be extensively prevalent, can hardly be expected. A similar feeling, though not just the same, is reported by Mr. Stanton as that of 'many excellent ladies, who would make all schools places of moral rather than intellectual training.' In our returns the girls' school is often spoken of as intended to be more a home than a school. The general feeling is illustrated by a singular rule which we have found in the returns of one of the proprietary schools, that if a girl 'found herself unhappy', due pains must be taken to remove that feeling; failing which, it is directed that she be removed.

We have expressed these views thus early in this Chapter, because they belong to the whole subject matter. The far-sighted and enlightened views about the education of girls, expressed by the many able and experienced ladies and other authorities whom we have consulted, we have no doubt, will meet with ever-increasing acceptance in this country; but we believe their advocates must be content to expect, even ultimately, a proportion of failures somewhat larger than must be reckoned on in most such attempts, and distinctly more than is probable in the corresponding work of the education of boys.

We cannot, however, say this without pointing out, though it may almost appear a truism, that the popular feeling to which we have referred, on one most important subject, that of the married life of women, is founded on a grave and radical misconception - a misconception especially, though by no means only, injurious to the Middle Class, and increasingly so in these days. The most material service may be rendered to the husband, in the conduct of his business and the most serious branches of his domestic affairs, by a wife trained and habituated to a life altogether different from that of mere gentleness and amiability of which we have spoken; a life of no slight intellectual proficiency, and capacity for many functions too commonly thought to be reserved for the male sex. Mr. Bryce, too, has well dwelt on the greater amount of leisure possessed by the women in a mercantile community, if, indeed, it should not rather be said, that it is possessed by them alone; and remarked that we must, therefore, look to them for the maintenance of a higher and more cultivated tone in society.


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We have examined many ladies at the head of Girls' Schools, a few gentlemen, such as Professor Plumptre, connected with such schools and collegiate institutions, and several ladies and others who have specially given their attention to the subject. Most of our Assistant Commissioners have treated the question as an integral part of their task, and have obtained returns from a large number of schools; and we have made use of some of the numerous publications of recent years bearing upon the matter.

There is, on the whole, a great concurrence of opinion among these various authorities, both on the state of the case and on the measures desirable to be adopted. It cannot be denied that the picture brought before us of the state of Middle Class Female Education is, on the whole, unfavourable. The general deficiency in girls' education is stated with the utmost confidence, and with entire agreement, with whatever difference of words, by many witnesses of authority. 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 organisation - these may sufficiently indicate the character of the complaints we have received, in their most general aspect. It is needless to observe that the same complaints apply to a great extent to boys' education. But on the whole the evidence is clear that, not as they might be but as they are, the Girls' Schools are inferior in this view to the Boys' Schools.

A few details may be given, both referring to general standards as to the comparison with boys.

As regards Religious Knowledge, of which perhaps, at least as far as the simple elements, girls may be somewhat more receptive than boys, the evidence is not unfavourable. Professor Plumptre, speaking of girls coming to Queen's College, London (a class no doubt above the average) says they are better than boys, and show proof of better home training. We may observe that from our Evidence, what is called the 'religious difficulty' is even less felt in Girls' Schools than in Boys' Schools. In very many of the returns it is not even noticed; and at the same time it would appear from them that a larger number of Girls' Schools profess to be Church of England schools than of Boys' Schools.

Mr. Giffard found that girls 'spell better, read better, write from dictation better, master the facts of history and geography better than boys; but translate, analyse, and parse worse, are not so quick and accurate in arithmetic, algebra, and Euclid, and less able to deal with themes and general questions.'

According to Mr. Fitch, they are better in reading, in English exercises, often in history, in religious knowledge; in all else worse.

Mr. Hammond pronounced the reading, spelling, arithmetic, and grammar unsatisfactory; the history superficial; the geography somewhat better; English composition successful.

Mr. Bompas thought them worse in arithmetic and grammar, but rather better both in history and in geography.


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Mr. Fearon says that 'the results of his examination in elementary subjects in Girls' Schools of the first grade have been invariably unsatisfactory in all respects, except in reading and spelling.'

Arithmetic, it should be added, is spoken of as the 'weak point' in women teachers, and both arithmetic and grammar are said to be taught in a manner merely empirical.

It illustrates the common tendency to attempt the higher ranges in learning, while the foundation has not been soundly laid, that Mr. Fitch found astronomy often professedly - it is needless to say not well - taught.

Mr. Hammond remarks that schoolmistresses often 'attempt a variety of subjects, which at present at least, and as now treated, only interfere with the efficiency of Girls' Schools.'

The teaching of 'common things' and household duties seems very rare and occasional.

Physical science has been introduced, and if hitherto with little or no encouraging result, this must be in great measure attributed to imperfect methods. Mr. Bompas found it only a subject of lectures; Mr. Giffard reports it as only read from text books; and Mr. Fitch says it is nowhere taught systematically, and that it is commonly unintelligible. Miss Buss had not attempted it for mental training, but thinks it may be so used.

Mathematics do not appear to be much in use, or to be carried far, and Mr. Fitch says they are not taught mathematically. Mr. Fearon reports that the results of the teaching of mathematics are unsatisfactory. But in favourable circumstances, as at Queen's College, girls who have any aptitude for the subject are said to make rapid progress, and the study of it is approved by some of the ablest mistresses.

With regard to Classics, Greek is so little taught that it need not be noticed, nor is it likely that it will ever be recommended as an ordinary part of female education. But there is much interesting evidence as to the suitableness to girls of learning Latin in its elements, as a means of mental culture and strengthening of the intellect, and of mastery of grammar and language; of its successful introduction by right methods; and of the perceptible ill effects of its absence. Mr. Fearon reports unfavourably on the Latin that he examined, but this does not appear to be inconsistent with the evidence of its utility, for the fault was plainly due to want of teaching; and Mr. Fearon says in his review of the instruction of girls in French, that the first step towards securing thoroughness in the linguistic part of the curriculum of an ordinary girls' school of the first grade was 'the provision of first-rate instruction in Latin'.

The elements of political economy or social science - a subject, at least in a practical and simple form, very desirable for women to know - have begun to attract attention. Its success no doubt depends as much as any subject on peculiar skill in the teacher. Dr. Hodgson conducted a class of young ladies in this subject with excellent results.


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In the study of Modern Languages in these schools, French appears to take the lead. In this branch the difficulties and the shortcomings seem much the same as with boys. Good teachers are hard to find; the language is not taught 'minutely' enough; the teachers are satisfied if the girls can pronounce and speak it fairly. There is a great want of soundness and accuracy, a frequent occurrence of gross blunders in elementary grammar. But it seems also to be fully as successful in Girls' Schools as in Boys' Schools; girls have the better natural aptitude for it, and are sometimes reported as learning better. Mr. Hammond reports that he found it 'on the whole a very successful school subject'.

With respect to the branches of instruction more peculiar to female schools, there are also considerable shortcomings to be noticed.

Music (which appears not always to be taught in the cheaper schools) is equally demanded of all girls, however little taste they may have for it. Mr. Hammond states that one of the considerations which mainly influence parents of the middle class in selecting a school for their daughters is that instrumental music is to be the leading subject of instruction for women except in the lowest ranks of life. It is said to be seldom more than the acquisition of manual skill, to be taught without intelligence, and too much confined to instrumental music to the neglect of singing, in which boys are stated to be the more accurate. In particular Mr. Bompas gives a clear summary of reasons against the pianoforte for educational purposes; from the undue consumption of time, the impossibility of simultaneous teaching, its expensiveness, the embarrassment it causes in the school arrangements. But no one would recommend its abandonment, though judicious heads of schools may be able to modify its use, in the sense above indicated, and so as to include the elements of Thoroughbass.

Needlework, also, is reported to occupy too much time, to be capable of being more taught at home, and the kind of it which most prevails is said to be too much of an ornamental character.

The important subject of bodily exercise for girls appears still to be imperfectly attended to. Though undoubtedly, under the name of 'calisthenics' [sic: OED says callisthenics] it is duly encouraged in the better schools, yet Mr. Fearon lays great stress on the want of systematic and well-directed physical education, as often the cause of failures in health and an impediment to successful study.

We have now attempted a slight survey, as respects instruction, of the condition of Girls' Schools as brought before us in the evidence. That there is much that is good in them, that much improvement is going on, and still more may be looked for, we cordially admit; and we hope that, both in this Chapter and in the Evidence and Reports, this, the favourable side of the matter, will be noticed and appreciated by the reader more in detail. But we are here rather looking at the less favourable side. Of this a forcible description, perhaps somewhat caustic in its tone, may be seen


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in Mr. Bryce's Report. For a concise and accurate view, and one which indicates the main points to be attended to, we may quote Mr. Norris: 'We find, as a rule, a very small amount of professional skill, an inferior set of schoolbooks, a vast deal of dry uninteresting task work, rules put into the memory with no explanation of their principles, no system of examination worthy of the name, a very false estimate of the relative value of the several kinds of acquirement, a reference to effect rather than to solid worth, a tendency to fill or adorn rather than to strengthen the mind.'

That much of this, as we have before intimated, may be said, still more might have been said some time ago, of boys' education, is plain. The corresponding question arises, whether similar methods of improvement with similar objects in view, should be adopted in the one case as in the other?

The question is two-fold. First, have girls similar (it need not be equal) capacity for intellectual attainments with boys? Secondly, if they have, does it follow that their training should be the same? The state of society, the need of some peculiar culture in their case, may necessitate modifications; and there may be important differences in degree, if there are not in kind.

On the first question there is weighty evidence to the effect that the essential capacity for learning is the same, or nearly the same, in the two sexes. This is the universal and undoubting belief - and the unquestioned practice corresponds to it - throughout the United States; and it is affirmed, both generally and in respect to several of the most crucial subjects, by many of our best authorities. (1) It is impossible to read the account of a really efficient Girls' School, such, for instance, as the Ladles' College at Cheltenham, under Miss Beale, (2) without acknowledging the truth of this to a great extent. Mr. Hammond reports that in mixed schools taught by masters he found no difference of attainments in the two sexes.

But if we go on to consider, with regard at least to the average and the greater number of girls, how far we should apply this view in practice, we may probably come to a conclusion somewhat of the following kind: that there is a practical difference to be observed in degree and in time - that the foundation, the main and leading elements of instruction, should be the same in the two cases, and further, that ample facilities and encouragement, and far more than now exist, should be given to women who may be able and willing to prosecute these studies to a higher point; but that the complete assimilation of the education of the sexes, such as prevails in America, should not be attempted. (3)

(1) Fraser, pp. 192, 3: Bompas, p. 53; Fitch, pp. 288, 289: Gifford, pp. 200, 201. Mr. Fearon, and the teachers he consulted in Scotland, hold that the difference is physical rather than mental, and that as to the mind, it is little more than a greater power of endurance in boys. Report on Scotch Secondary Education, p. 57. See also Miss Jex-Blake, Visit to American Schools, pp. 43-46, 89-91, 243.

(2) See Report for 1865: and Miss Beale's Paper read at the Social Science Congress, 1863. Compare Catalogue, etc. of Oberlin College, p. 41.

(3) See Fraser, p. 165; and the remarkable passage from Tocqueville which he quotes, 196 n.


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It must be remembered, in dealing practically with the question, that it is only on the whole, and balancing one quality against another, that we can speak of the equal intellectual capacity of the sexes. Many differences, such as the tendency to abstract principles in boys contrasted with the greater readiness to lay hold of facts in girls - the greater quickness to acquire, in the latter, with the greater retentiveness in the former - the greater eagerness of girls to learn - their acuter susceptibility to praise and blame - their lesser inductive faculty - and others, are dwelt on by our witnesses.

The view we have above taken is supported by such statements and opinions as these: that up to the age of 12, girls hold their own in the ordinary subjects of instruction with boys; that their education should be the same up to the point when the professional instruction of boys begins, or up to the age of 16, that it should be similar, but not carried so high.

But the most interesting experiment on this part of the question has been made in the extension, on the part of the University of Cambridge, of its system of Local Examinations to girls below the age of 18. The authorities of the University proceed cautiously in this matter, first giving permission to a voluntarily formed committee, (1863) to conduct a Trial Examination of girls with the same papers that had been used for boys, and then, after a very successful result had followed this experiment, themselves admitting (1865) female candidates to their examination of male candidates. The satisfactory and hopeful issue of this extension may be seen in the VIIIth Report of the Syndicate (1866); and it is a striking illustration, in addition to two given above, how the inferiority of female education may be owing to the want of due method and stimulus, and to no natural causes, that in arithmetic, noted above as one of its weakest points, and in which at the Trial Examination no fewer than 90 per cent of the senior candidates had failed, at the first regular examination of the whole number, all but three passed.

Very remarkable further evidence, in corroboration of the above views, is to be found in the report of the same Syndicate for 1867, the whole of which deserves attention. In almost every respect it is more satisfactory as regards the girls than as regards the boys. We quote a few passages. 'In Shakspeare the girls were again successful, and on the whole more than the boys.' 'In religious knowledge the work was in general well done.' In the papers on the Horae Paulinae, on the Catechism, and on Whateley's Evidences, the girls excelled the boys. 'Three seniors attempted. Greek, all of whom passed. Five out of seven seniors, six out of eight juniors, passed in Latin.' In French, 84 out of 88 juniors, 72 out of 74 seniors, passed: and 'of the juniors, the girls translate with far greater spirit than the boys, and are equally superior in handwriting and spelling.' 'Twelve seniors and ten juniors took in German, six of each division obtained marks of distinction; none failed. Two seniors and one junior obtained nineteen-twentieths of the marks. The Examiner was much


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gratified with the work sent up.' In music, 'the Examiner expresses his satisfaction with the performance of the students.'

If it be said that comparatively few girls enter the examination, it may be observed that this is probably in good measure due to another satisfactory circumstance, that they seem better aware of the range of their own powers than the boys. The Report states that they 'are not tempted by the hope of obtaining a place in the Honour Classes to try a great variety of subjects. Comparatively few take the full number of sections allowed.' Nothing is reported of them like the strange fact noticed about the examinations of the boys in German, that some students deliberately 'took papers who knew not a single word of the language'.

The characteristic mental difference of the sexes, to which we have adverted, is illustrated in this Report. 'The best boys wrote with vigour and precision, the best girls with ease and vivacity. The boys were for the most part content to retail information derived from books, or to describe the processes of some branch of manufacture: the girls were eager to express their own views, and were most successful when they endeavoured to trace their own intellectual phases, or to depict the trifling incidents of everyday life.'

We can only refer to a few of the witnesses who expressed general approval of this step on the part of the University of Cambridge; but the particular point to which we would here direct attention is that the bold step of admitting girls to the same examination as boys is clearly justified on the part of its most enlightened advocates by the fact that the subjects dealt with are the great fundamental ones of general knowledge. Authorities of great weight, such as the Archbishop of York and Mr. Norris, had objected to the attempt, and proposed a special Board of Examiners for girls; but it was rightly pointed out in reply that such separate machinery might be needed in the higher regions of knowledge, but not in such matters as the local examinations dealt with. We refer to the ordinary and indispensable part of the examination; optional subjects are with girls as with boys, in more or fewer cases suitable to some and not to others.

These examinations further illustrate, by two very judicious provisions, an important difference in practical detail, depending not on the intellectual, but on the physical and moral character of the female sex, which must not be forgotten in dealing with the education of girls compared with that of boys. The candidates are not arranged in order of merit; and the lists are not published. This touches on the general question of Examination, and the application of the principle of Emulation in Girls' Schools, on which we have had abundant and sometimes conflicting evidence.

A few witnesses, indeed, question this principle as applied to boys as well as girls. But others believe it to be naturally less fitted to bear good fruit in the case of girls, from their more excitable and sensitive constitutions. Yet a preponderating number of autho-


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rities have testified that, judiciously applied, the system of Examination, which necessarily involves emulation more or less, has been found in experience to be entirely harmless; and if it is so, it is needless to say that its effects in stimulating the mind must be powerful in the one sex, as it is in the other. Some, however, even of these have thought it safer, even while resorting to Examinations, to avoid publicity as connected with them; and on the whole we believe that the rule of the University of Cambridge above mentioned indicates two safeguards, by the observance of which all probability of evil consequences will be averted. Let the principle of emulation be used, but not in its most stimulating form of individual competition, and let the display of public exhibition be avoided. With these precautions, we hope that both generally for women of a suitable age, and for Girls' Schools in particular, a general system of independent Examination, on the same principles as we have recommended for boys, may be established.

We may here notice that the Convocation of the University of London referred the question of instituting special examinations for women to the Annual Committee in 1866. The Committee reported in favour of it, and the Convocation passed resolutions declaring that the establishment of such special examinations was desirable. These resolutions were adopted by the Senate, who submitted a case to the Law Officers of the Crown, to ascertain if the University under its present Charter had adequate authority. Their opinion being that the Charter did not give the power, the University petitioned the Crown for a supplemental Charter. We learn that this Charter has recently been granted and accepted, and that the Senate are now prepared to establish special examinations for women. The Examinations of this University, from their simplicity and adaptation to the whole country, have been noticed as peculiarly fitted for the purpose before us. (1)

The kindred system of a regular Inspection of Girls', as of Boys' Schools, is advocated, as might be expected, and on precisely the same general grounds, which are indeed as applicable in the one case as in the other. Speaking, indeed, as we are hitherto doing, of private schools, we need hardly say that it is not in any sense compulsory inspection that we would suggest; but that some public recognised authority should offer to all such schools the advantage of Inspection. 'Bring the work to the light', says an able and successful mistress; (2) and in practice it is not found, where such inspection has been actually introduced, that either the students themselves or their parents at all object to it. (3)

We shall hereafter advert more at length to the general condition of mistresses of Girls' Schools, but we may here, as showing

(1) Miss Davies, 11,286, 340: Miss Buss, 11,602: Miss Beale, 16,108. Nine candidates presented themselves at the first examination in 1869. Six passed in honours; three failed. See appendix.

(2) Miss Beale, 16,088, 9: Stanton, p. 70.

(3) Rev. GC Fussell, 15,987: Miss Kyberd, 15,988. These witnesses are conducting a very successful girls' school near Frome. Bryce, p. 886: Stanton, p. 75.


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the advantage to such schools of regular systems of examination and inspection, notice what Mr. Bryce has well pointed out, (1) the few opportunities of social intercourse, and in particular with each other, which those ladies, as compared with schoolmasters, are often found to have.

We would add, on the special point of the health of women, both in youth and in after-life, that so far from its being true that they are likely to suffer from increased and more systematic intellectual exercise and attainment, the very opposite view is maintained, both as the result of experience and on scientific authority.

The general system of conduct and discipline of Girls' Schools, including punishment, appears on the whole, as might perhaps be expected, to present fewer difficulties than in the case of boys. 'It is hardly more than personal influence', says Miss Beale; and Mr. Bompas (who, however, doubts the accuracy of the statement) was told that a 'gentle remonstrance' was in most cases enough. Mr. Hammond also states that 'admonition is generally sufficient'. More specific treatment often seems to be very like that adopted in Boys' Schools, as impositions, fines, and confinement. From our Returns it would appear that in hardly a single case is corporal punishment known in Girls' Schools. In very many of them it is stated that they have no punishments at all.

The cost of girls' schooling both from general statements in the Evidence and from the figures given, does not appear to vary very materially from that of boys in the same class. And we may observe that the habits of English society mark out for us with considerable accuracy, and more so than as to boys, the class with which, as a Commission, we have properly to deal. The wealthiest class, as a rule, do not send their daughters to school. The following figures are taken from those communicated to us: Boarding school terms are said to vary from 98 to 32 or even down to 25, in the one case extras being reckoned, and not in the other. Mr. Bryce reports expensive boarding schools in Lancashire to charge from 70 to 112, the cheaper ones from 31 to 59. The general average he puts at a little over 70. In one case 18 a year was said to cover rent and boarding alone; and in another, rent free, 25 to provide both board and education. Day school education is stated to vary from 3 to 20 or even 22. The following are the actual terms in a well-conducted school, Bedford College School (2): for girls under 10, 10 guineas a year; between 10 and 14, 15 guineas; above 14, 18 guineas; in each case without any extras. [1 guinea = 1.05] These large variations are of course according to the subjects taught, and the general character of the school as regards provision for comfort, health, and so forth. On the whole, what difference there is, is on the side of more expense in the case of girls, as is indeed stated expressly by several authorities, and reasons given why it must be so,

(1) Miss Beale, 1617, 3, 5. Rev. JP Norris, Soc. Sci. Trans. 1864, p. 405. Authorities in Fraser's Mag. Oct. 1866, 515.

(2) This school has, we understand, ceased to exist. (Ed).


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as the higher price of 'fancy articles', as accomplishments are called, the small size of schools, the greater cost of teachers, who come from a distance only for a short time. Mr. Fitch observes that ladies often take charge of schools without any particular capacity for doing much of the teaching themselves, from which follows the necessity of a larger staff of teachers than in Boys' Schools.

We have not much evidence about the condition of the buildings used as Girls' Schools, but what we have cannot be called favourable. As might be supposed, the same objection applies to them as in the case of boys, that they are commonly houses not constructed for the purpose, and therefore less healthy and convenient than they would in that case have been. Mr. Fearon pronounces the buildings and premises of almost all the Girls' Schools in the metropolitan district, whether day or boarding, to be unsatisfactory. Mr. Bryce speaks not unfavourably of the boarding school accommodation in his district.

On the question of Day Schools as compared with Boarding Schools there is some difference of opinion. Simple attendance at Classes (of which we shall speak further hereafter in reference to Female Colleges) is preferred to both by some writers. (1) We give some reference to the authorities on both sides. (2) Assuming, as we may fairly do, that the homes of our middle class are commonly favourable to the growth and development of the female character, we are ourselves inclined to the opinion, which also appears somewhat to preponderate in the evidence, that in the case of girls more than in that of boys the combination of school teaching with home influence, such as Day Schools admit of, is the most promising arrangement.

We add a few remarks on some more isolated points, concerning which no very material difference is observable between Girls' and Boys' Schools. In both, short and irregular attendance is complained of; (3) in both, want of preparatory elementary teaching at home, even sometimes up to the age of 16; (4) and in both, thoughtful judges equally recommend the general principle that all the earlier years of education should be devoted to general as distinct from special and professional training.

On one question, which as regards boys' education has attracted much attention, that of the mixture of different classes of society in the same schools, there seems much more agreement, in the direction unfavourable to such mixture, as to Girls' Schools than as to Boys', both from general reasons and observation, and with regard

(1) Rev. F Maurice, Soc. Sci. Congress, 1865. Fraser's Mag., Oct. 1866, p. 520.

(2) For day schools, Miss Davies, 11,230: Rev. FV Thornton, 15,698: Miss Smith, 15,774: Miss Beale, 16,108: Dr. Pattison, 17,807: Fitch, p. 286. For boarding schools, Miss Porter, 15,074; Rev. GO Fussell, 15,878: Miss Wolstenholme, 16,207.

(3) Bompas, p. 44.

(4) Mr. Richards, 6,114: Dr. Hodgson, 19,129: Prof. Liveing, 146: Miss Buss, 11,610: Bryce, pp. 823, 825. Miss Davies speaks of the 'unfathomable ignorance' of girls coming to school, with a special exception in favour of Scotch girls, 11,210. It is needless to say that good home governesses for the middle class are not easily found. See Bompas, p. 43. Our practical recommendations will bear upon this point.


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to the feelings of parents. Some who the most strongly advocate it in Boys' Schools are against it in Girls' Schools. (1)

What in the lower class is called a mixed school, where boys and girls are taught together, is not often found among the class above them. But, where the numbers are not too large, that mode of education is advocated up to the age of 14 in a very striking manner by an able witness; and it appears to be generally established in America. (2)

Another system, unquestionably successful in all Boys' Schools where judiciously managed, that by which the elder pupils take a recognised part in the discipline of the establishment, seems from our reports and evidence hardly known in Girls' Schools. But it has been introduced with excellent effect by Mr. Fussell and Miss Kyberd in the Chantry School at Frome, and it appears to us highly deserving of consideration.

A special cause of inferiority in Girls' Schools, that they are commonly too small, has been noticed above. It is not only that it tends to multiply the number of them unduly, and that it increases the cost; but that, as is well known, small schools are in themselves, as instruments of instruction, commonly inferior to larger ones. We conceive, however, that this is one of the points in which we must always expect shortcomings in girls' education more than in boys. Our assistants report that ladies are generally found to shrink from the labour and responsibility of large schools; and that parents have the impression that smaller schools 'are conducted like private families', are 'more like home', allow of more personal influence, and tend more to the production and confirmation of gentle and feminine characters. Right or wrong, such feelings are probably too natural ever to pass entirely away.

If, now, this review of the condition of Girls' Schools should lead to the conclusion that much that is observable with regard to them is essentially the same as in Boys' Schools, while, no doubt, there are peculiarities in each which do not belong to the other, we shall perhaps judge not very differently when we look separately at the question of the teachers and managers of Girls' Schools.

On the one hand it is important and encouraging to reflect that women (and it is needless to say that for the most part women must be at the head of Girls' Schools) have great inherent advantages. They may be called nature's own teachers; (3) they are, says one witness, (4) more careful, patient, persevering with young children, for whom, indeed, in both sexes there is a general

(1) Sir J. Pakington, 7,020: Lord Auckland, 7,186: Hon. and Rev. S Best, 7,233: Miss Davies, 11,392, and on the Application of Funds to the Education of Girls, p. 8. Rev. JGC Fussell, 15,881. The experiment was made and given up in a Yorkshire school. Dr. Howson, ubi supra, p. 313. See Green, p. 246.

(2) Fairchild, Address at Oberlin College, pp. 37, 40: Miss Jex-Blake, Visit to American Schools, pp. 89, 133, 231. Fraser, p. 192.

(3) 'Born teachers', Fitch, p. 286; Bryce, p. 822; Howard, Report of Committee of Council on Education, 1867, p. Ill; Stokes, ib. 508.

(4) Mr. Mason, 3,333.


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concurrence of opinion that women are best fitted; (1) they have 'endless patience'. (2)

On the other hand, we cannot doubt that at present, as a class, the Female Teachers in Girls' Schools must be pronounced not fully equal to their task. This is due in some degree to causes which in our present condition of society are not likely to be eradicated. Mr. Bryce has pointed out a few of these. Their comparative isolation we have spoken of. Further, 'hardly any women take teaching up as a profession, meaning to stick to it'. They consequently leave the profession more frequently, and marriage, which to a schoolmaster not only is no impediment, but rather is an assistance to him in his occupation, almost always causes a schoolmistress to give it up.

But though due allowance must be made for these facts, it seems clear that there are still stronger causes for the defects of lady teachers, which are just the same as in the case of men, and which unquestionably admit of remedical treatment, and that in almost the same way as in the other case. 'The two capital defects of the teachers of girls', says Mr. Bryce, 'are these: they have not themselves been well taught, and they do not know how to teach. Both these defects are accidental, and may be remedied.' Mr. Fearon reports that the defects in the teachers 'seem principally to arise from want of breadth and accuracy of scholarship, and from want of knowledge of the art of instructing a class.' Mr. Hammond has 'no hesitation in reporting that there are some subjects, those in fact which rest on scientific principles, which females at present cannot teach.' More to the same effect will be found in the evidence, but the above is a sufficient summary of it.

With respect to Special Training Institutions for Mistresses of the class before us, as, notwithstanding the unquestioned success of Normal Schools for Male Teachers for the labouring class, we have not been able to recommend them confidently for the middle class, so neither do we for Female Teachers. Such institutions are recommended by one witness of much authority. But there is a great weight of evidence on the other side. Mr. Fearon, while pointing out the great superiority of trained schoolmistresses, yet considers that the source of the present defective teaching lies deeper than in the absence of what is technically called training, and that the first remedy is to provide all Englishwomen of the middle class with 'the opportunity of higher liberal education'. In his Appendix he gives some important documents to show how large a number of governesses are not brought up with any view to such an occupation, but driven to it by domestic misfortunes. Special training schools could do very little in such cases; if they have not been previously well educated,

(1) Fraser's Mag., Oct. 1866, 524; Miss Smith, 13,768; Dr. Pattison, 17,864; Bompas, p. 48.

(2) Miss Beale, 16,156.


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there would be little chance of preparing them for such a profession when they were already grown up, and desirous of supporting themselves at once. At Queen's College, again, the special training for teaching is expressly disclaimed: Miss Kyberd would have good inspected schools, and girls trained to teach as part of their education; and Miss Davies thinks special Training Institutions very undesirable, while she would add, for such as desired it, six months' special training to the general course of instruction. In the important project to which we shall further advert hereafter for the establishment of a College for ladies analogous to the Universities, while it is hoped and expected that many of the students will become Teachers, no specific professional training in the art of teaching appears to be intended.

We are not unmindful of the excellent results that have followed the establishment of such Colleges as Whitelands and others, and Mistresses trained in these institutions may no doubt be found fully equal to the work of teaching schools above the elementary. We do not wish, therefore, to prejudice the future discussion of this subject; but for the present we are disposed to adopt the views stated in the last paragraph. According to them the main foundation of improvement in Female Teachers is to be laid in the improvement of the schools in which they are themselves educated, and thus becomes a part, and a most important part, of the general question before us.

We have already mentioned the powerful effect in stimulating Girls' Schools which improved and systematic Examination and Inspection may be expected to have; and we believe that similar benefits may be looked for in the special matter of the formation of a better class of mistresses, from the application of the very same principle of Examination in the case of young women who have left school. This has been strongly pressed upon our attention. The need of Examination by which the intending Teacher may test and estimate her own powers and her own deficiencies - the standard of attainment furnished by it - the definite credential of the Certificate, which should accompany the successful issue of such examination, and the particular advantage, if it can be had, of a declaration of competency in the art of teaching - the general stimulus which such a system might be hoped to bring to the whole course of female education in the country - to all these will be found abundant testimony in the materials we have collected. We have mentioned a declaration of competency in teaching; for we are clearly of opinion that a leading part of such examinations should have direct reference to intending schoolmistresses, and be followed by special certificates for them.

We have adverted to special safeguards which seem needful in this part of the subject; and beyond these, in a matter so well understood as the method of conducting Examinations, we do not think it needful to go into detail. It is however important to consider in whose hands they should be placed. We conceive that


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if such a general system of Examination of Boys' Schools and of candidates for the office of Schoolmaster, as we recommend in our Final Chapter, be ever established, there is no reason why it should not include Girls' Schools and candidates for the office of Schoolmistress. But as respects general Examinations for girls who have left school, and do not intend to be teachers, we could not adopt the recommendation of one witness, that a special Board of Examiners for the whole country under public authority be established. For the present at least we would rather look to the extension, by the three Universities, of what has been so well begun by the University of Cambridge, and is about to be set on foot by the University of London. We may add that the College of Preceptors has for some time examined and given certificates to female as well as to male teachers; and it is interesting to observe that in English subjects, as also in French, the papers are the same, and the ladies are stated to have acquitted themselves as well as their male competitors. (1)

It might probably be convenient, as in the case of schoolmasters that a public Registry of Certificated Teachers (2) should be established; but this is a question of detail on which we need not dwell.

We have divided the Boys' Schools with which we had to deal into the three classes of Endowed, Proprietary and Private. Of Proprietary Schools for Girls there are few. (3) With regard to such assistance as may be offered to and accepted by the managers of Private Girls' Schools, in pursuance of any measures that we may recommend, we conceive it may be simply as a part of the system which we have suggested for Boys' Schools. No kind of compulsion can be thought of in the one case any more than in the other. But we are clearly of opinion that the local boards under central supervision which we shall hereafter suggest, and which may, we hope, be able to offer to Private Schools advantages, for the sake of which they may be willing to agree to certain conditions, should extend their operations to Girls' Schools. There would, no doubt, be differences of detail in the system, but into these we need not enter. It is true that in the management of individual Girls' Schools it must always be desirable that women should take a part; but we do not suppose that principle should be extended to such administrative machinery as the proposed local boards would be.

But the question of endowments, as bearing on female education, is a peculiar one, and we must dwell on it more at length.

We give a list of the endowed schools for girls, from which we have received returns. It is not easy to define the schools which were intended, or which profess, to give secondary education to girls. The teaching of 'Latin' or the teaching of 'Grammar' has been considered to mark the line between the primary and

(1) Mr. Robson, Evid. 51, 54.

(2) Miss Davies, 11,246.

(3) A list (probably incomplete) is given in Appendix VI.


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secondary instruction of boys. But there is no subject of instruction which may be used in the same way to classify Girls' Schools. It is, therefore, quite possible, that there may be not a few endowed Girls' Schools, besides those contained in our list, which ought properly to fall within the province of this Commission. But after making all allowances for these and similar possible additions to the list, it is evident that the endowments for the secondary education of girls bear but an infinitesimal proportion to the similar endowments for boys.

It is certainly a singular fact, and one not by any means admitting easy explanation, that, with these few exceptions, no part of the large funds arising from Endowments, and applicable to educational objects for the Upper and Middle Classes, is now or has been for a long time past devoted to so important a purpose as the education of girls and young women. (1) Whether this exclusion prevailed from the first, or when it began, is a question on which little beyond conjecture seems attainable. Miss Davies has treated (2) the subject with considerable research; but though she has adduced some instances from ancient documents which establish the express admission of girls to, others the express exclusion from, Endowed Schools, she admits that, for the most part, Foundation Deeds contain no evidence on the subject. From this she infers that Founders commonly were not supposing that any distinction of sex whatever would be made in the application of their benefactions, and that they would as soon have thought of specifying that a church was intended for both sexes as that a school was. She concludes, that in strict right (though not as practically advisable,) one half of the Grammar Schools should be open to girls.

We doubt whether this conclusion can really be maintained. We are disposed to believe that an extended examination of ancient School Deeds rather leads to some such impression as the following.

It seems not to have occurred to any one in those former days that all the middle (still less all the lower) class would have to be educated. But that in all classes there were some who deserved it, and would be the better for it, was a fact familiar to everyone. When then a man founded a School for his parish or town, he did not think so much of the mass of the children, as of those who were likely to profit by education. He took it for granted that no selection was needed to pick these out; they would pick themselves out. If some came to the School of whom nothing could be made, they would soon find learning so distasteful that they would depart, and so the school would be perpetually weeded.

Hence the frequent expression that the Founder's aim was to raise up 'godly ministers for Christ's Church', to maintain 'sound

(1) Compare also the great Scheme for Middle Class Education in London, known as Mr. Rogers' Scheme, in which no one seems to have thought of including girls' schooling. Mr. Hammond suggests that the explanation is to be found in the fact that many of the earlier endowments took the place of the chantry schools, meant only for boys (p. 472). It also seems probable that such schools were often founded with the predominant idea that boys were to be trained there for the public service of the state.

(2) On the Application of Funds to the Education of Girls, pp. 3-8.


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scholarship' &c. It was as if now a man wished to found a school for some exceptional accomplishment, such as painting, in any given town; which would not imply the expectation that many would come to such a school, but that if there were any artistic genius in the town, it should not be wasted for want of a place for its due cultivation.

And so, inasmuch as men rather than women would be thus marked out for education, and more could turn their education to account in the world, especially in the service of the State, or of the Church, the regulations of the school would rather look to the case of boys than of girls. But in so far as girls could use the system provided, so far they would have come within its scope.

According to this, we have now to adapt to the wants of the whole mass, schools meant for a class produced as it were by natural selection from the mass. So when we propose to give Free Education by Competitive Examination, we in fact select in that way those who in the Founder's days would have been determined by a sort of process of nature.

But the question thus presented seems to have little but an antiquarian interest. With our present convictions about the importance of Female Education, and with our unwillingness to adhere too rigidly to the literal expressions of Founders, without allowing for the force of altered circumstances, we conceive that, even were the bearing of the old Deeds far more manifest than it is, the exclusion of girls from the benefit of Educational Endowments would be in the highest degree inexpedient and unjust; and we cannot believe that in any comprehensive adjustment of these great questions it will be defended or maintained.

Nor is there any difference of opinion on the point among our witnesses. Some may advocate one mode of admitting girls to the benefits of endowments, some another; some may dwell more on their belief that girls have an absolute, or, at least, a strong moral title to such admission, others more on the utility of their being so admitted; but on the general issue the testimony may be called unanimous, and Mr. Fearon sums it up, not too strongly, in saying that 'appropriation of almost all the Educational Endowments of the country to the education of boys is felt by a large and increasing number, both of men and women, to be a cruel injustice.'

In the particular case of Christ's Hospital, we have found, from the magnitude of the funds and the obvious circumstances of the case, no difficulty in suggesting the appropriation of a part of the Endowment to a definite object in Female Education; but generally we prefer leaving such appropriation, subject to all the observations which we have offered applicable to the whole subject, to the administration of the new authorities of which we have advised the constitution.

We consider that in any enactment or constitution that may be brought into operation on this question, the principle of the full participation of girls in Endowments should be broadly laid down.


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But though the practical application of this principle may not require to be specified, nor admit of it, in any such general way, we have no doubt that in fact a materially smaller part of the Educational Endowments of the country will have to be given to Female Education than to Male. The proportion, however, may vary. The rule itself depends on some obvious considerations. As we before noticed, the wealthiest class very generally do not send their daughters to school; even in the middle class many more girls are wholly kept and educated at home than boys, and of those who do go to school, the school education is brought to a close at the age of 16 or 17 in far more cases, than with the male sex.

This brings us to a subject of great interest, but on which we are not about to dwell at any length, as it is a little beyond our proper province, though immediately connected with it - we mean the subject of Colleges for young women to carry on their studies, after school, into higher regions, when able and desirous to do so. We need not say that we are not referring to what are popularly known as 'finishing schools', of which we hear no good account. According to one of our Assistant Commissioners, they are simply schools more expensive than others, and no way better.

The interest belonging to such colleges, in the real sense of the word, is mainly prospective, for they can hardly be said lo exist now. Mr. Bryce speaks of them as Institutions much wanted. Mr. Fearon agrees with Mr. Bryce. Queen's College, Harley Street, we believe to be an admirable Institution, and to some extent it answers the description we have given; but on the whole it seems to be rather a school than a college. Thirteen is the 'starting point' of age; 14 or 15 is the average age of entrance; four years is the full course; but the girls mostly remain three years. Bedford Square College, as distinct from the College School, comes nearer to the mark. We may also refer to the interesting attempt, of which, however, the experience is still recent, made by Mr. Pattison and others at Oxford, to establish a system of Class Teaching and Lectures, expressly for girls of 17 and upwards, and for the time between their leaving school and settling in life. This may be a model for similar undertakings elsewhere, and it aims at just the object we have described.

We have, indeed, received an interesting communication from Miss Anne J. Clough, in which, besides some valuable suggestions on the general subject, she recommends, as an adjunct to Girls' Schools, a system much resembling that of Mr. Pattison. It is, that in large towns, and chiefly for the use of the elder pupils in Girls' Schools, Central Schools shall be formed, with Lecture Halls and Libraries; and that in these institutions, collective instruction should be given in certain subjects, such as history, geography, and drawing. Lectures also, to the number of 20 or 25 in a quarter, would be given by Professors, partaking of the character of class teaching, as some preparation should be required of the students beforehand, and their proficiency tested


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from time to time. Miss Clough attaches importance to such professors being appointed by government as in the case of inspectors. We believe that, since the date of this communication, the system has actually been set on foot at Liverpool, and is making satisfactory progress.

Still, on the whole, with reference to this part of the question, the able persons engaged in the task of improving and raising the condition of English Female Education, while approving of such institutions as the Colleges we have mentioned, and wishing to see them multiplied, appear to consider the supply of Collegiate Institutions, in the full sense, as still remaining to be furnished. And they have recently promulgated a proposal (to which we have already alluded) for the establishment of a new College, 'designed to hold, in relation to Girls' Schools and home teaching, a position analogous to that occupied by the Universities towards the Public Schools for Boys.'

The document embodying this proposal, which we received accompanied by a Memorial in favour of its general object, with numerous and weighty signatures, we print in another volume.

We have little to do but to express our cordial approval of the object aimed at in this proposal. The extent indeed of the present effective demand for, and need of, such Institutions, cannot be accurately estimated, and must in fact remain to be ascertained by experiment. Nor do we think that the data are sufficient to justify us in pronouncing with confidence on the chances of success in this or in any particular instance. But in our actual state of society it cannot be denied that there is some want of 'motive power' to stimulate intellectual exertion on the part of girls. There is, however, much that will more and more tend to rectify this state of things. It is connected with the subject, so much discussed of late, of new openings in life for women in branches of employment not hitherto pursued by them. On this subject, too, not much can yet be said with confidence. Even in America it cannot be said to have made much progress; and in this country it is spoken of, as still uncertain, tentative, and prospective.

We have said that we think there is exaggeration in the statements of the defects in the mental and social condition of women in after life, on which to so great an extent the demand for these measures is founded. But this constitutes only a difference of degree; and the fact alone, that ladies of so much ability and observation as those with whom we have communicated, have applied themselves to providing in these ways enlarged resources for occupation of time by their own sex, and that whether as heads of families or as remaining unmarried, is a strong argument for encouragement to be given to colleges in any suitable manner by the Crown and by Parliament.

In this, as in the other parts of the educational question, a main obstacle to improvement will be found in what we have already mentioned, the apathy and want of co-operation, often the active


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opposition of too many of the parents. Here, as elsewhere, we hear that they look chiefly for immediate pecuniary results; that they will not pay for good teaching when they might have it; that they oppose what is not showy and attractive; that they are themselves the cause of deterioration in competent teachers; that their own want of cultivation hinders it in their children. (1)

The gradual improvement of society will tend to diminish these obstructions; and we see no reason to doubt that in this most important part of the education of the middle class, progress may be hoped for, fairly corresponding to that which we anticipate in the training and instruction of the male sex.

(1) Miss Buss, 11,572, 7, 8: Miss Smith, 15,757: Miss Wolstenholrne, 16,209-18: Stanton, p. 71: Hammond, pp 475-482: Green, p. 249-251. The mistress of an endowed school states, in our returns, that she never heard a wish expressed by a parent for any branch of instruction to be taught except music.



The above chapter was prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 10 October 2006.