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Wakefield Girls’ High School

Forgotten Women of Wakefield: An Assembly with Sarah Cobham

Today, in assembly, we were visited by the woman behind the 'Forgotten Women of Wakefield' project, Sarah Cobham.

The project's aim is to increase the number of blue plaques in Wakefield that are dedicated to women, so that by 2028 there will be an equal number of plaques commemorating women as there are for men. Sarah and her supporters are incredibly passionate about their cause and raising the profile of women who have made such a difference to our city.

There are 40 notable women who were pupils at WGHS, two being the Gissing sisters who ran a boys preparatory school in Wakefield and were the first teachers to introduce football into any school in the UK. Sarah also talked about Edith Mackie. Edith lived in St. John's House, which is home to our Junior girls in Years 3 - 6. She lived in the house for 50 years and donated a lot of the land in her will that WGHS now occupies, she also paid for St. John's Church to have a new roof and there was once a commemorative stone laid in her honour within Clayton Hospital. Miss Gertrude McCroben, headmistress of WGHS from 1894 until 1920, emphasised the importance of girls learning to do more than just sewing and the more traditional subjects; she introduced Art, History and Games, to name but a few. She was also the headmistress who was said to nurture Dame Barbara Hepworth's artistic talent.

Sarah discussed how many women are simply written out of history, sometimes even by themselves. Edith doesn't mention herself when writing about her donations to the church, instead she mentions her Father. The Gissing sisters were overshadowed by their brother, novelist George Gissing, the 'Charles Dickens of Wakefield'.

Sarah's determination for this cause is an inspiration and a number of girls had a quick chat with her after assembly to ask for more information about becoming 'social media gurus' for the project.

There are a numerous exciting events coming up for the project which can be found, along with more detail information about this fantastic initiative, here.

We look forward to welcoming Sarah back to school soon, to discuss 'Forgotten Women of Wakefield' in more depth.