In celebration of International Women’s Day earlier this month, we’re dedicating a blog to the women who have transformed the education system over the decades. Without them, school and university life as we know it would be starkly different.
First things first, let’s journey back in time – to over a century ago, when the Women’s Suffrage movement was in full swing.
Millicent Garrett Fawcett
You may be familiar with the name Millicent Fawcett; she was a central figure in the fight for women’s rights, and this certainly didn’t exclude their right to education. In fact, she was one of the key advocates for women having access to higher education - as university wasn’t typically perceived as a ‘female’ venture. Imagine: being deprived of your university degree simply because of your gender!
1867 was a busy year for Millicent; she helped form the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, and also married Liberal MP and University of Cambridge Professor, Henry Fawcett. The pair were a radical force to be reckoned with, and Henry crucially helped Millicent further her own education. This catapulted Millicent to new, iconic heights; she was the founder of Newnham College: a University of Cambridge College exclusively for women, which is still thriving to this day. Millicent, you definitely get our vote!
Fanny Jackson Coppin
Meanwhile, in the United States, Fanny Jackson Coppin was also a passionate advocate for women’s higher education. Despite being born into slavery, Fanny broke all manner of barriers and became one of the first Black women to earn a college degree. This inspirational woman dedicated her life to changing the tides of the education system; at college, she chose to forgo the “ladies’ course” for the more challenging “gentlemen’s’ course”, and then set about bridging the gap between the two. She dedicated her life to transforming the education system, allowing African Americans to have educational opportunities which they were previously unjustly denied. Imagine a world without boundary-breaking women like Fanny Jackson Coppin. We certainly don’t want to!
Next, we’re jetting across the globe to India – whilst staying firmly in the 19th century. Savitribai Phule was renowned as one of the first Indian feminists, paving the path for women and girls in education. Sadly, this path “never did run smooth”; Savitribai faced the constant vitriol of conservative communities in her quest for equal rights. However, she soldiered on, establishing the first ever school for girls in India, and starting the Literacy Mission alongside her husband.
Baroness Mary Warnock
Let’s fast forward to the 20th century, whilst also returning to British soil. In 1978 England, Baroness Warnock took critical leaps and bounds on behalf of special educational needs children. In the UK, the education system has become increasingly accommodating to SEN students, with staff required to be specially trained in providing the support that they need. However, Baroness Warnock set the wheels in motion; after reviewing how special needs children were treated in the education system, she produced the renowned ‘Warnock Report’. This document argued for an inclusive future, where SEN students would be integrated into mainstream schools. It also emphasised the necessity for parents to receive support, and for their children to have the full rights that they deserved. The result? Warnock’s well-structured and insightful plea significantly shaped the 1981 Education Act, transforming the lives of SEN students – in the 20th century, and beyond.
Grace Campbell & Jane Cosans
There are so many commonplace aspects of past society which seem worlds away from what is acceptable now. For example, it is both unbelievable and terrifying to acknowledge that corporal punishment in school was the norm – a mere 40 years ago! It is wholesomely fitting that the 1986 ban on corporal punishment was, in fact, inspired by two Scottish mothers: Grace Campbell and Jane Cosans appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, with the aim to ban the inhumane whipping and caning of school children. This provoked significant legislative changes to British education, setting strong foundations for the principled present day. It also goes to show the extent to which parents have a rightful voice in regard to their children’s future; in light of Mothering Sunday last weekend, we are uplifting all women in education, from teachers to mothers. We’re sure you’ll agree that parents play a significant role in any child’s education.
The Titanium Tutors Team
Finally, we ought to give a well-deserved shout out to the lovely ladies of the Titanium Tutors team! From our long-standing Company Manager Cheryl and Deputy Company Managers Jenny and Sue, to our array of wonderful Admin Assistants, we certainly have a high level of female representation in our team!
We like to think that each and every woman working in education is simply taking the baton from the empowering women that we’ve discussed today. Here’s to continuing to shape the education system, promoting inclusivity, innovation and inspiration for all.
Are you an aspiring Titanium Tutor? Or could your child benefit from extra help ahead of the exam season? Get in touch today, and our friendly team will answer any of your queries.