Ely High School 1905-1972 - Miss EM Verini
Headmistress 1929-36

Miss EM Verini was a daughter of Raphael and Bertha Verini. Ethel Maud, her older sister born 1884 in Maidstone, Kent, was also EM Verini! Perusal of the 1911 census shows the family of Raphael and Bertha living at Wentworth (Woodhouse) Vicarage in Yorkshire with three other daughters, Edith, Ida and Eleanor Marguerite, the latter born 19th May 1894 in Exton, Hampshire, where her father was Rector.

Eleanor Marguerite Verini was educated at Queen Margaret's School, Scarborough and at the Cheltenham Ladies' College, then became a student at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. Her teacher training was at Clapham. Some of the appointments she held prior to EHS were; Senior English Mistress at Edgbaston High School, Birmingham and lecturer in English at Cambridge Training College for Women (Post Graduate).

She was Headmistress of Ely High School 1929-1936. In the last issue of the school magazine in 1972 Miss Verini stated that she was 78 years old and looked back fondly on her time at the school. [As issues of the School magazine for her time at EHS become available - we hope - further information will be added.]

She left EHS to become Headmistress of Loughton High School (Epping Forest) a day school for about 500 girls. In 1945 she was appointed as Principal of the Cambridge Training College for Women and saw through its post-war expansion and, in 1949, its place in the University of Cambridge as a Recognised Institution for Women. This enabled women under training to become members of University, and to keep residence as members of the College. She retired in 1953 and moved to London and then to Haslemere, Surrey. She continued to participate in the Ely High School Old Girls' Association.

She died in Surrey on 7 July 1987 at the age of 93. There was an obituary published in The Times [which we are seeking].

Ely Standard January 31st 1936


Miss E.M. Verini Headmistress of the Ely High School for Girls is leaving Ely at the end of the Lent Term to take over an appointment as Headmistress of Loughton High School (Epping Forest) a day school for about 500 girls.

Miss Verini has been Headmistress of the Ely High School since September 1929 and during that time has become well known in the district. Her qualifications include M.A. Oxon and the Cambridge Teachers' Certificate. Educated at Queen Margaret's School, Scarborough and at the Cheltenham Ladies' College, Miss Verini then became a student at St. Hilda's College, Oxford.

Some of the appointments she held were; Senior English Mistress at Edgbaston High School, Birmingham and lecturer in English at Cambridge Training College for Women (Post Graduate).

Ely High School magazine, Easter 1936

My dear Girls and Old Girls,

Fortunately a foreword is something gloriously undefined in length and character, and so I may appropriate a part of it as a most convenient travelling notice-board.

I am leaving Ely this term, as most of you will know, to become Headmistress of Loughton High School (Epping Forest). That my love is very far from leaving you you will also know, but matters of that kind cannot be worded, much less pinned to this notice-board.

My notices are these: (1) Girls who have been at School in my time, I hope you will still write to me as freely as you have done in the past, telling me your news, asking for help or reference in obtaining a post, or what you will. There is only one change - my address, viz.: High School for Girls, Loughton, Essex, but if you want testimonial or reference please state the month and year in which you entered and left School, and the date of your birth, as the Roll Book will not be accessible to me so easily. (2) Old Girls who have developed that splendid habit of revisiting us in School from time to time, do keep it up. I am sure that you will be welcome and it means so much to the life of a school for all generations to keep in touch. (3) Members of the O.G.A. I urge you, with new fervour, to remember your Annual Subscriptions due each July, for if you do not I shall, alas! not see you when I come to the Old Girls' Gatherings, as I hope to do. And new School leavers, see that you join the Association when the time comes (not forgetting our new London Branch, for Loughton is only 11 miles from Liverpool Street).

Changes usually are the heralds of new progress and I am sure that will be so for the School I have loved so much and shall never forget.
Yours ever affectionately,

Miss Verini, 1930 School Photo

Margaret Bottrall's book Hughes Hall, 1885-1985 describes Miss Verini's two periods at Cambridge Training College (which became Hughes Hall), one as Lecturer in English before she was appointed as Head at EHS, and the other as Principal of CTC in 1945:

Of her earlier period under Miss Wood at The Cambridge Ladies' Training College there is only a small mention "During the twenties too, there appear in the annals of the CTC the names of two women, still with us at the time of writing, who were to exert great influence on the fortunes of the college. Miss Marguerite Verini, who was appointed Lecturer in English in 1925, left in 1929 to become Headmistress of Ely High School for Girls, so this sojourn in Cambridge can be viewed as no more than a prelude to her fruitful association with the College as its Principal from 1945-1953."

It would appear that Miss Wood maintained contact with Miss Verini, however as she was endeavouring to introduce the concept of 'teaching practice' schools by sending her students out to girls' schools in the South East to gain practical experience. Margaret Bottrall states that in 1932 students were going to Ely, at Miss Verini's invitation, and to a private school at St. Ives, spending on average two days a week away from Cambridge.


extracts from Chapter 5: UNIVERSITY STATUS ACHIEVED

Miss Verini came to Cambridge at a time when educational issues were demanding a great deal of public attention and action. The war had blunted the impact of seven notable Reports on secondary education in England. The Spens Report, a seminal document, had been published in 1939; the Norwood Report, on curriculum and examinations, appeared in 1941, and the Fleming Report on Public Schools in 1943. In 1944 the Butler Education Act took its place on the Statute Books, and in the same year the McNair Report on teacher training was published.

At such a time, the appointment of a Principal whose knowledge of girls' secondary education was first-hand and up-to-date was dearly advantageous to the CTC [Cambridge Training College]. Miss Verini came to Cambridge with two headships behind her - Ely High School and Loughton County High School. She was a member of the Head Mistresses' Executive, and one of its three Committee Chairmen. She already had strong links with the College, having held the post of English Tutor from 1925-1929 during Miss Wood's regime. While at Ely she offered school practice to CTC students, and as a member of the Association had since 1930 received the Council's annual reports and accounts. She was also an old friend of Miss Dent's, having been trained by her at Clapham 1917.

Miss Verini's originally titular Oxford degree in English (Cl. II) had enabled her to become an M.A. of that university when Oxford recognised women graduates. Later she gratefully accepted membership of Girton and a Cambridge M.A., when in 1943 women became eligible for that degree. On coming to the CTC Miss Verini was happy to leave Miss Phillips to carry on with the training of English specialists, since she herself was already qualified to undertake the training of those specialising in Religious Education, and wished to do so.

Before and after the 1944 Butler Act, religious education in schools had become a dominant issue. Oxford and other university departments had already appointed qualified lectures but Cambridge had not done so. Miss Verini had for several years been a lecturer at the Board of Education's holiday courses for teachers and heads of schools who were responsible for scripture teaching. It was therefore an opportunity for the Cambridge Department to come into line, and to provide for the specialists in Divinity who were now coming out of several universities, including Cambridge itself. Miss Verini also lectured to the Department students on the Principles of Education.

One of the first problems facing the new Principal was the acquisition of an additional annexe to the college buildings.

To quote the Council's Annual Report for 1945-46, the first post-war years had been "fraught with difficulties and cramped by shortages, but the essential work of the College, the production of efficient teachers", had gone on steadily and successfully. Miss Verini was congratulated on the way she had coped with an arduous first year, with apparent ease and even enjoyment.

The essential nature of the college had always been bound up with the provision of residence. Even with the new annexe (Nos. 1&2 Wollaston Road) the number who could be accommodated was too small for financial viability, and the Ministry of Education was constantly being asked to give special consideration to the unusual circumstances of theis small graduate institution.

Mis Verini, incidentally, found that the absence of the word "graduate" or "post-graduate" from the title "Cambridge Training College for Women" led to misapprehensions; it was often assumed to be a two-year establishment of the normal pattern. However no legal change in the title was considered desirable at that juncture. Sixty-five was agreed as the upper limit, a few students being offered non-resident places.

Up to fifteen went annually to girls' boarding schools for their practice term, and the Ministry agreed that grant-aided students might be permitted to take posts in independent schools of good standing. The CTC students were in demand at the girls' public schools, as well as in direct-grant grammar schools all over the country.

The great increase in applications in the post-war years - about 300 annually from the late forties to the late fifties - helped to extend the educational links of the training college. When the Principal travelled to interview applicants in their respective universities, she got to know the main lecturers, and, through them, which schools had especially good teachers in the various subjects. This helped greatly in placing sudents where they would be most likely to profit from a term's practice, while keeping in close touch with their Cambridge supervisor.

With the ever increasing number of good practice schools, it was usually possible for a student who wished to do so (and most did) to try out a school different in kind from the one which had educated her; an ex-day girl could go to a boarding school, a convent-bred girl to a co-ed establishment. The students were thus better able to judge what kind of post they wanted and were fitted for.

Even in Miss Wood's day, some heads of girls' schools had been in the habit of ringing up to report vacancies. This had become more frequent in Miss Dent's day, and under Miss Verini there were even more enquiries for the kind of student who might prove a welcome applicant for a good post.

Meanwhile, co-operation between the college and the University Department of Edumtion developed arnicably. The number of men students rose sharply after the cessation of hostilities, but reciprocal arrangements for lecturing continued. However, it soon became imperative to formalise the relationship. The CTC needed recognition by the University, yet it naturally wished to preserve its tradition of independence.

At the end of 1946 the Council of the Senate set up a special Syndicate to review the whole position of women in the University of Cambridge. The time had come to remedy the injustice a granting to women only the title of a degree, involving no voting rights and no constitutional involvement in the life of the University. Oxford had given to women in 1921, after the first World War. After the second, Cambridge belatedly was preparing follow suit. This general review lent urgency to the deliberations of the CTC. The statutory limit to the number of women admitted to university courses - in effect, the students of Girton and Newnham - was 500. Unless the CTC students received university recognition, they could not be considered for inclusion in any new figure that might be proposed.

By November 1948, Miss Verini was able to begin her letter to Old Students with the jubilant comment, "Cambridge has opened its doors to Women!" But the changed status of the CTC, though by that time a foregone conclusion, had not yet been officially ratified. However, the statement which the College had been authorised to issue with the 1948 Prospectus makes the situation clear:

Owing to the possibilty that this College may, before the Academic Year 1949-50, be recognised as an Institution of the University, details of this Prospectus are subject to change. Should such a recognition take place, students will be members of the University and of its Department of Education, but the main character of the work, the arrangements for residence, the system of grants, scholarships etc.and consequently the total cost to Recognised or otherwise assisted Students will remain virtually the same.

The vast amount of committee work and more informal negotiations that justified the drafting of this hopeful paragraph may be imagined by anyone who has ever been engaged in constitutional reforms connected with the University of Cambridge.

The final Report of the special Syndicate was, in fact, published in the Reporter on February 2nd 1949, some three months after the principal's letter. The Syndicate recommended that, with effect from October 1, 1949, the Cambridge Training College should become a Recognised Institution for Women. This would enable women under training to become members of University, and to keep residence as members of the College.

Not only was the Principal to have the status of University Lecturer; she was to be appointed Director of Women Students, at a modest stipend. She would be responsible, under the general direction of the Head of Department, for the supervision of the women, for administrative work in connection with them, and especially for arranging their school practice. The Department would pay for the secretarial help she would need in this connection.

The Syndicate expressed the hope that members of Girton and Newnham who might wish to enter the Department of Education would be strongly advised to join the CTC for their fourth year. They would forfeit no university privileges by doing so, and would not add to the quota of their former colleges.

With the help of Sir Will Spens formal approval was eventually given to an emended Report.

The question of a new name for the College had already been considered by the Council. The Principal explained the necessity of omitting the term "Training College" from any future title, since this had come to designate a different type of institution, and was definitely misleading.

"Elizabeth Hughes Hall" was the first proposal submitted for the approval of the College - the Association of guarantors [Elizabeth Hughes was the first Principal of CTC]. In November 1949, legal advice was sought about changing the name of this Association, and it was unanimously recommended by the Council that it should in future be known as the Elizabeth Phillips Hughes Hall Company. That is still its title; and "Hughes Hall" is the name by which the university institution has, been known ever since its change of status in 1949. Its status has changed twice since then, but the name, commemorative and suitably modest, still seems satisfactory (even if Cambridge taxi-drivers sometimes confuse it with New Hall).

When the change was first proposed, however, there was vehement opposition from many of the most loyal Old Students. They were loath to relinquish name honoured by hundreds of women teachers who had trained in Cambridge and were proud to have done so. But the nature of the institution had been radically altered when its students became members of the. University Department of Education, and a new name was necessary.

As Miss Verini pointed out, in the first letter addressed to Old Students that she wrote as Principal of Hughes Hall, the commemorative name bore witness to the fact that the college was taking its place in the university "not as a new foundation, but as a College with a lasting and valued tradition, which will maintain its character in a milieu that respects the individuality of institutions." The surface differences, she pointed out, were few. Students were now matriculated, processing to the Senate House for the ceremony and wearing BA gowns on all required occasions. Those coming from universities other than Cambridge were granted BA status during their year of training.

The Principal, apart from her work as Director of Women Students, had plenty to do in negotiating with the Ministry of Education about lecturers' salaries and pensions and the fees of students. She also gave much time to Religious education. Men in the Department of Education interested in Scripture teaching came to Wollaston Road for Miss Verini's lectures and seminars. Westcott House, whose students were not eligible to attend University Department lectures, asked her to visit them for discussions, which she did, continuing this practice for some years after her retirement from Hughes Hall.

By 1953 Miss Verini had already announced her decision to retire, for personal and family reasons, slightly ahead of the date that could have been expected. This news was received by the Council with great regret.

Miss Verini did not abandon lecturing when she left Cambridge, but was invited to speak on religious studies at a variety of educational institutions. For a time, too, she went on with examining and advisory work.

Music and foreign travel were two of her joys, and her London flat was a centre of hospitality for her former Hughes Hall students and many other friends. Thoughout her long retirement she has kept in touch with a remarkable number of women engaged in teaching, following with keen interest the widespread changes in the education of girls over the past thirty years.

She moved to Haslemere some years ago, and is still full of vitality, deeply interested in the past history and future prospects of Hughes Hall.

[In 2007 Hughes Hall was granted full University college status, 121 years after its establishment.]

A History of Hughes Hall http://www.hughes.cam.ac.uk/history_of_hughes
Hughes Hall, Cambridge

With thanks to Josh Acton of the Cambridgeshire Collection and Christine Fuller (Bell) for contributions this page.
If you can add to this page please contact us
page created 6 Nov 10