“100 Not Out” Malvern Civic Society’s Plaque at Malvern St James Girls’ School unveiled to celebrate 100 years of girls’ education there since 1919

Unveiling of the Plaque at Malvern St James
Unveiling of the Plaque at Malvern St James

Andrew Huntley, Chairman of Malvern Civic Society, said that it was a particular pleasure for him to celebrate this anniversary for Malvern St James, because his daughter and cousins were educated at the school and his wife has taught there for 15 years. Unveiled by MSJ Headmistress, Mrs Olivera Raraty, the plaque recognises 100 years of girls’ education in this school building, but it is much more – it is to celebrate 100 years ‘not out’ of girls’ education in this building.

Mr Huntley said, “1919 was a ‘1066 moment’ for women. In 1918, women aged over 30, had been given the right to vote. From the start, the vision of the founder headmistresses was to establish major schools for girls’ education. In the case of Malvern Girls, the school was founded in 1893 and then moved to this building in 1919: the move to a bigger building was again a bold statement of their ambition for the education of women.” 

Malvern St James Girls' School
Malvern St James Girls’ School

He went on to say, “The beating heart of the school is, of course, not the building but the girls. The current Old Girls magazine tells the stories of 100 of the Malvern Alumnae from the foundation schools of Malvern St James.”

There have been huge changes for the role of women in the last 100 years. Andrew Huntley was struck by the number of ‘firsts’ among the 100 Alumnae. This includes the first female High Court Judge, the first woman to join the Royal Horse Artillery and the first Member of Parliament for the Green Party.

The school was rated ‘excellent’ in an Independent Schools Inspection in 2017. Sport and Music have always been an important part of the life of the school. One of the Alumnae (from Lawnside) had been the film director for ‘Mamma Mia’, and Lawnside was the school where Edward Elgar had taught the piano.

Andrew Huntley wondered what the founding headmistresses would think of the school if they could see the school today. He reflected, “Perhaps, they might say – ‘Well, what did you expect? Our ambition was to provide a good education for girls. Would you expect less?’”

Plaque at Malvern St James Girls' School
Plaque at Malvern St James Girls’ School