Lancing’s passion for history permeates throughout the school; our pupils study it both formally through the curriculum and informally through learning about how the College has developed and evolved over the decades.
This year we celebrate a significant time in Lancing’s history along with a national historic moment: 40 years ago Lancing’s first Girls’ Boarding House was opened, whilst 100 years ago some women were given the right to vote through the passage of the Representation of the People Act. We wanted to recognise and celebrate the progressive moments that paved the way for gender equality, and have done so through flying the Suffragette flag, participating in International Women’s Day and through our Celebration of Lancing Women event.
The College’s support for gender equality predates its early co-education days, with many women having a profound effect on the pastoral and medical care of pupils since the school’s opening in 1848. However, for many, the establishment of Manor as a Girls’ Boarding House in 1978 served as a pivotal moment in the development of Lancing as the modern, co-educational school that it is today.
It seems fitting that the wider national narrative about women relates to the College’s own gender evolution, with our pupils learning about the importance of the Suffragette movement in giving women a voice in the political sphere. We celebrated the centenary of the Act – commonly known as Vote 100 – through flying the Suffragette flag by the Cricket Pavilion, reflecting on those who tirelessly campaigned for political equality.
Following this, pupils celebrated International Women’s Day with a series of events and activities aimed to inspire and recognise women’s achievements – both past and present. English teacher Lucy Freeland worked with pupils and other members of staff to create an inspiring exhibition in Great School. Additionally, during the weekly Head Master’s Assembly, two Upper Sixth students spoke to the whole school about how International Women’s Day should be considered as an opportunity to recognise their contribution to society.
With the Lent Term culminating in a number of events to reflect the broader discussion about gender equality and Vote 100, it seemed pertinent to hold an event during the Summer Term to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Manor House and Lancing women as a whole. The event provided a unique opportunity for both current and former pupils (OLs) and staff to share their memories and experiences of Lancing, including a speech from former Head Master Ian Beer CBE, who introduced the first girls into the Sixth Form during the 1970s. It was striking to see, on the day, how much the OLs enjoyed being here again and how important the co-educational environment was to them during their time at the College.
When speaking about the development of co-education at Lancing, Senior Deputy Head Hilary Dudgale commented: “When I meet OLs, they often say the friendships they made at Lancing were the most formative of their lives, even overshadowing those of university. These friendships are often found across the gender ‘divide’.”
This certainly proved true for the events held this year, with all of our pupils uniting to celebrate key milestones in gender equality.