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Warrior Woman of History Fact Sheet: Frances Mary Buss

April 30, 2017

  • Born 16th August 1827 and Died 24th December 1894, in London

  • Her parents were Robert William Buss, a painter and etcher and his wife Frances Fleetwood

  • She was one of 10 children – but only 6 survived to adulthood

  • When she visited her Grandparents in Aldersgate, they sent her to a basic private school

  • She was then sent to a similar school in Kentish Town, where the children learned Murray’s Grammar

  • At 10, she was sent to school in Hampstead. She was teaching there herself by 14 and by 16 was sometimes left in charge of the school

  • Her Mother set up a private school on Clarence Road, Kentish Town in 1845 to help with family financial issues. Frances assisted her Mother. The school was based on ideas of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

  • She attended evening lectures at Queen’s College in Harley Street, London during 1848-9. She was taught by F. D. Maurice, Charles Kingsley and R. C. Trench. She gained certificates in French, German and Geography

  • On April 4th 1850, the school was renamed the North London Collegiate School for Ladies. Buss was the first Headmistress and remained so for the rest of her life

  • The school became a model for girls education and by 1865 it had 200 day girls and a few boarders. It was still run as a private, family affair, with her Father teaching Art and her brother Septimus teaching Scripture

  • In July 1870, Frances handed over the school to Trustees. In the following year, she founded the Camden School for Girls

  • She was the first person ever to use the title Headmistress

  • She led campaigns for the endowment of girls schools, and for girls to be allowed to sit public exams and to enter Universities

  • In 1874, she founded and became President of the Association of Headmistresses. She held this position until 1894

  • She was involved in establishing the Teachers Guild in 1883 and also in the Cambridge Training College (Hughes Hall) for Training teachers in 1885

     

  • She became the first woman Fellow of the College of Perceptors in 1869 and helped establish the College’s Professorship of the science and art of education in 1872

  • Her election to a Fellowship of the College in 1873 was the only public recognition she ever received

  • She was a member of the Council of Teachers Training and Registration Society

  • She was a Suffrage; participating in the Kensington Society, a woman’s discussion society and the London Suffrage Committee

  • Her name is associated with that of Dorothea Beale, in satirical rhythm:

Miss Buss and Miss Beale,

Cupid’s darts do not feel,

How different from us,

Miss Beale and Miss Buss

  • Every spring, North London Collegiate School, North London Collegiate School Jeju (South Korea) and Camden School for Girls all hold Founders Day to commemorate Frances and her legacy. Everyone carries a daffodil in memory of Miss Buss’s favourite flower

  • The educational values taught by Frances at the North London Collegiate School became the model for many schools throughout the UK and overseas. Included, is Pretoria High School for Girls, founded in South Africa by Edith Aitken, a former pupil of Miss Buss

     

     

     

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