The Girls' Day School Trust is an independently run but centrally supported group of girls' schools initially created in 1872 to advance the education of women. In 2007 the Trust was responsible for 29 schools located across England and Wales.
The Trust was created in 1872 as the Girls' Public Day School Company (GPDSC), a limited liability company founded by the National Union for improving the Education of Women of All Classes (also known as the Women's Education Union). The Union had been created a year earlier by sisters Maria Grey and Emily Shirreff with the support of Lady Henrietta Stanley of Alderley, Mary Gurney, and HRH Princess Louise, who all played active roles in the early years of the GPDSC. The Company was created to establish good and cheap academic day schools for girls of all classes above the level of elementary education. New schools would only be founded were they were most needed and they were expected to become self-supporting. The first school opened in January 1873, and by 1901 the GPDSC was responsible for 38 schools.
Initially the schools only provided secondary education but soon opened junior and kindergarten departments. Most of the schools had teacher training departments and provided domestic science courses for girls over 17. Some of the schools also developed specialisms, such as Kensington High School which trained music teachers and Liverpool High School (later Belvedere School) which trained art teachers. Headmistresses were also an important part of the GPDSC policies and were engaged in experimental education techniques.
From 1875 the GPDSC amended its constitutions to enable it to become a charitable Trust to continue to receive government grants, which was wary of giving public grants to a company with share holders. In 1906 the GPDSC was reconstituted as the Girls' Public Day School Trust Limited, a limited company with charitable status which had to be wound-up by 1 January 1956 if the Trust failed to buy all the existing share capital. The Trust continued to amend its constitution until it was able to make an offer to buy the entire share capital in 1950 to become the Girls' Public Day School Trust.
The Trust was faced with many financial problems in the first half of the 20th century due to the demands of shareholders and competition from new state secondary schools. The schools began to take free scholars from state elementary schools, whose fees were paid by the local education authority. The less profitable schools were closed, amalgamated with other Trust schools, or transfer to the local education authorities. World War Two plunged the Trust into more financial trouble as the schools accepted refugee children at reduced fees and the inner city schools were evacuated.
After the 1944 Education Act, the Trust schools had to cater for the sudden increase in number of pupils. They joined the government's new Direct Grant Scheme in the same year. The scheme required that a third of school governors had to be representative of the local education authorities and a minimum of 15 percent of their intake had to be transferred from state elementary schools, though they could remain academically selective.
The Trust schools became fully independent in 1976 when the scheme was withdrawn.
In 1980 the Trust applied for the Government's Assisted Place Scheme for all schools and registered as a private company under the Companies Act 1980. The schools remained in the scheme until it was discontinued in 1997.
In 1992-1993 the Trust effected a corporate reorganisation resulting in the division of the Trust's operations into two separate but connected charitably companies. The Girl's Public Day School Trust (1872), a company limited by guarantee, and managed the property and investments and The Girl's Public Day School Trust (GPDST) ran the operation of the schools. In 1994 the Girl's Public Day School Trust (1872) acquired 'GPDST (Enterprises) Limited, which was responsible for promotional merchandise for the Trust and to administer the new Minerva Network, a club for all former pupils of the Trust. The reorganisation was finally completed in 1998 when the Trust became the Girls' Day School Trust.
The Head Quarters of the Trust has based in London, firstly in 21 Queen Anne's Gate. By 1919 the Trust had moved into new premises at Broadway Court in Westminster. In 1963 it moved opposite its original home into 26 Queen Anne's Gate. In 1997 The Trust moved into 100 Rochester Row.