Livewire - May 10, 2013

Have your say

By Mrs Dana Gledhill

I have just been reading about this “revolutionary idea” to be introduced at the top private girls’ schools across the country.

It’s about how girls don’t have the social skills to enable them to deal with formal occasions such as dinners and banquets.

Specific reference is made to how it is intended to teach them how to propose toasts.

British investment fund manager Nicola Horlick comments on how these deficiencies in the girls’ education is preventing them reaching the top in business.

Do you know that 50 years ago my state grammar school, Arnold High School for Girls, taught such skills as part of our daily routine?]

It’s incredible that Blackpool was providing an education in etiquette and protocol to the thousands of girls who passed through the school. Every day we had two sittings for lunch and each sitting had a grace at the beginning and end. Midway through the meal we had a toastmaster who introduced the girl who was proposing the day’s toast- usually wishing our hockey teams well or similar.

If you were involved in whatever was being toasted, you had to stand up and respond.

Our school terms ended with a two day full school council, where the headmistress and head girl processed into the assembly with the school mace, which was positioned centre stage throughout the council session.

We were taught important life skills, like how to eat an artichoke (!) and the proper way to applaud and support when watching tennis. We wore our hats at all times outside school and , if you’d committed a very serious offence like wearing mascara, you had to wear your hat all day so everyone could see that you were in disgrace.

We always wore gloves, summer and winter, white in the summer. It was against the rules to go into a shop in uniform and we must never eat in the street or on a bus.

Half a half of a century later the top private schools in the country are racing to catch up with the education we had at Arnold. That’s not a Blackpool headline that we’re accustomed to 

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