12 February 2018
PHS was founded in 1882 by the enlightened gentlemen of the city looking for a suitable education for their daughters. There were at that time plenty of establishments that educated the daughters of the wealthier classes but they did not offer academic rigour in the same way as the newly established High School. Lily Flowers, listed on our old honour boards which are hung in the back stairs to the hall, was the first woman from Portsmouth to go to university – she attended Newnham College, Cambridge to read mathematics. Another pioneer and also named on our honour boards, Kate Edmonds was the first female councillor in Portsmouth. A later Headmistress wrote of her “Her keen mind was to the end eager for fresh knowledge and ideas and she had a rooted distaste for slipshod thinking and half-hearted action”.
I think it is fair to assume that these women were likely supporters of the suffragette movement or at least championed the emancipation of women. They must have rejoiced when women over thirty years of age, who fulfilled certain criteria, were given the right to vote one hundred years ago this week. Those that invested their time and money in PHS believed in the empowerment of women which still holds true today.
Our girls have always been ambitious with a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity for learning. Furthermore they enjoy activities which develop a holistic approach to their education. Much has changed in education since the school was founded but the ethos that forms the core and heart of PHS remains the same. The motto of the Girls’Day School Trust is “Knowledge now no more a fountain sealed” which embodies perfectly the founding principles of our School.