The GDST was founded in 1872 by four pioneering women, Mrs Maria Grey, her sister Miss Emily Shirreff, Lady Stanley of Alderley and Miss Mary Gurney. They believed that girls should be entitled to the same academic education as their brothers. At that time, girls of means were educated either at home or at the ladies’ academies, where the focus was more on accomplishments than academics.
After a public meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1872, the founders launched The Girls’ Public Day School Company, selling shares to raise the funds to open girls’ schools. In January 1873 the first school opened in Chelsea, with many more to follow. The founders wanted a GDST education to be accessible to able girls, whatever their background, and offered scholarships from the outset. This principle is still fundamental to the GDST today and we provide financial assistance to approximately 1,100 girls every year.
One of the founders, Maria Grey, went on to be a campaigner for votes for women. And a number of GDST girls grew up to be active in the Suffragist and Suffragette movements.
The principles of breadth, fearlessness, inclusiveness and a focus on developing the individual to achieve her potential were all enshrined from the GDST’s early beginnings, and remain true of the GDST family of schools today.
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