The Forgotten Women of Wakefield

Forgotten Women Wake

Gertrude McCroben

Gertrude McCroben was born in Bradford on the 30th of March, 1863

Gertrude is number 3 in our quest for #BluePlaqueParity.

We unveiled Gertrude’s blue plaque for International Women’s Day 2019 as part of theatre production ‘Difficult Women’ at The Mechanics’ Theatre.

Gertrude McCroben was born in Bradford on the 30th of March, 1863, to Edward Ripley McCroben and Sarah (nee Hesslegrave). Gertrude attended Bradford Grammar School for Girls and at the age of 17 received distinctions for her essays in English Literature. Building on this early promise, Gertrude then attended Newnham College Cambridge and gained Triple Honours in Maths. Hoping to share her love of learning, Gertrude became a teacher and took a place at Manchester School for Girls where she taught a varied curriculum. In 1894, aged 31, Gertrude became Headmistress of Wakefield Girls’ High School where she would make her most meaningful contributions to local and national education. Gertrude was instrumental in introducing sport to the district’s curriculum, but also placed a groundbreaking emphasis on teaching art, music and science. She was keen to reward excellence, and regularly held prize-giving and community-inclusive events. At the age of 43 Gertrude was well known enough to be among a select group of educators chosen as part of the Mosely Commission’s mandate to reform UK education. As part of that effort she journeyed to New York in the United States to observe the teaching styles being used and explore how they might be adapted to work in British education. Gertrude retired from her position as Headmistress in 1921 but continued as an inspector for many of her remaining years. Gertrude died on July 25, 1933, in Richmond, London. Gertrude’s legacy endures as a leading example of holistic education.

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