The dining room at Manchester High School for Girls was busier than usual as each and every one of the school’s 938 pupils, from the Preparatory Department through to Sixth Form, received a piece of birthday cake with their lunch.
The special treat was part of the school’s Founders’ Day celebrations, marking the day that Manchester High first opened back in 1874.
At 143 years old, MHSG is the oldest all girls’ school in the city. Its roll call of alumnae boasts prominent figures from history, such as the pioneering Pankhurst sisters to women like Libby Lane, the first female bishop of the Church of England, and Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice-President of Facebook, who continue to smash through the glass ceiling today.
Mrs Claire Hewitt, Headmistress, commented: “Healthy eating is always the focus of meals here at Manchester High and we encourage pupils to choose foods that promote concentration, energy and well-being. That said, we did think the school’s 143rd birthday called for something a little extra special.”
“It’s been another great year for MHSG, from being recognised by The Times as having the highest percentage of A* to B grades at A-level in the North West to our Under 16 hockey team being crowned champions of Greater Manchester,” continued Claire. “Other highlights include a sold-out production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and over 300 students from schools across the region joining us for our model United Nations conference. Today’s Founders’ Day celebrations are just the icing on the cake and we’re ready for 2017.”
The school’s extensive archive collection shows that just 60 girls were enrolled in lessons on Manchester High’s first day in 1874. The youngest was Jane Porter, seven years old and the daughter of a pawnbroker. At 18, Annie Worthington was the oldest pupil. She came from a family of merchants.
Safa Bilal from Withington (left) is the school’s youngest pupil, aged just four years and five months, while Maria Hussain from Fallowfield (right) is the oldest at 19
Today, Preparatory pupil, Safa Bilal from Withington, is Manchester High’s youngest girl, aged four years and five months. She said: “This morning’s special assembly was really good fun. I always enjoy it when we get to come together with the big girls and see what we’re going to be like when we grow up.”
Maria Hussain from Fallowfield is the school’s oldest pupil at 19 years old. She commented: “I was unwell for a significant amount of my first year in Sixth Form so, with the support of my teachers, I decided to repeat the year. It was definitely the right move for me as I am now on course to achieve straight As at A-level and can apply to study Medicine at university.”
“While Manchester High is undoubtedly forward-thinking we are all so proud of the School’s rich history and it’s always inspiring to hear the stories of the women who have gone before,” said Maria. “It’s even better discussing them over a piece of cake!”