St Peter’s School in York organised an online event with the first girls to ever join the school to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The school community celebrated the annual event on Monday via a video call with the first five girls who joined St Peter’s for the sixth form in 1976. The school, which is fully coeducational today, now educates over 500 girls.
The call was hosted by headmaster Jeremy Walker and Victoria Inness, who was the first female head of school until 1990.
Sue Miller (née Elston), Louise Denison (née Stansfield), Louise Morales (née Adams), Nicky Goodwin (née Jesper) and Zoe Jones (née Jackson) discussed their experiences of joining the boys’ school as it became co-educational, with Miller describing it as “daunting”. The women also discussed their careers and changing societal expectations of women since the late 1970s.
Morales described it as a “great opportunity” for her, saying she was “privileged to be able to study there” and that “St Peter’s gives you the foundation for a fulfilling life”.
She also recalled the confusion around the etiquette for opening doors for teachers; at the time, students held doors open for masters, but the male teachers thought it ungentlemanly to expect the new cohort of five to follow these conventions.
The women discussed using a small room “with a shower and a kettle” as the inaugural girls’ common room, which they used as a changing room for sports as the school did not yet have female facilities in the sports complex.
The women also discussed the challenge of mustering confidence in classrooms to “speak up” in front of their male peers.
St Peter’s School was recently selected as one of 25 Covid vaccination training centres across the country. St John Ambulance used their facilities to train first aiders to be able to administer vaccinations for Covid-19.