Papers of Katherine Bathurst

Scope and Content

The Katherine Bathurst Papers are her private papers focusing mainly on her career at, and disputes with, the Board of Education, her interests in nursery education, the working conditions of the school inspectorate and the position of women within the inspectorate. The papers comprise inspection notes from school visits; notes for her preliminary and supplementary reports; copies of Board of Education Circulars; photocopies of the Women Inspectors' Reports; correspondence with her superiors and officials at the Board of Education; private correspondence, including with Sir John Gorst; correspondence with the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) and National Union of Teachers (NUT); published and unpublished articles; education pamphlets; and newspaper clippings of articles and editorials related to her dispute with the Board of Education and on general educational topics.

Administrative / Biographical History

Katherine Bathurst, the daughter of the Rev. Frederick Bathurst, Archdeacon of Bedford, was born on the 10th May 1862 in Diddington, Huntingdonshire and educated at home, in Brighton and Dresden. In 1894-1895 she taught at the Morley College for Working Men and Women and also French at the Honeywell Road Evening Continuation School. In 1895 she attended classes and lectures in economics at the London School of Economics. In September 1897 Katherine Bathurst was appointed the third female school sub-inspector by the Board of Education (Miss R.A. Munday and Miss S.J. Willis, had been appointed in 1896). She was initially attached to Chief Inspector Rev. Francis Synge in the East End of London but they had a difficult working relationship and, in November 1897, she was transferred to the Lambeth district, first under HMI Mr W.E. Currey and then the Rev. Charles D. Du Port, with Miss Munday. In February 1899 Katherine Bathurst was posted to the Cardiff and Barry districts under Mr A.G. Legard, Chief Inspector of Wales. Two out of three teachers in the area were women and they had requested a female inspector. During 1899-1900 she visited infant schools in the area and criticised running conditions and exercise drills in her reports. She and Legard encouraged the introduction of the kindergarten system into infant schools in the district. Bathurst also took an interest in special schools and secured regular dinners for young children in the Cardiff Blind School. During this period she made a representation to Sir George Kekewich, Secretary of the Education Department, concerning the working conditions of sub-inspectors. In 1901 Bathurst asked for a transfer and was posted to Oxford where she worked under HMI Edmond Holmes. She entered into a number of disputes with Holmes and Board of Education officials concerning Holmes' editing of her reports, her claims for expenses and diary entries. In February 1904 she was put 'on probation' for six months following a complaint by the Oxford Education Committee. In March 1904 the female inspectors were taken out of the regular inspectorate. Their new role was to be specialist 'Women Inspectors' under a divisional inspector. Two were to be based in London, one in the Midlands, one in Yorkshire, one in Wales. Bathurst was to be based in Manchester under HMI E.M. Sneyd-Kynnersley. They were to report on the education of 3-5 year-olds in public elementary schools, looking into the social background of the children, school organisation, teaching and discipline. Their role was to collect information, not to inspect or to give advice. A standard 'Form 61', with prescribed questions, was issued for completion on each school visit. Bathurst visited as many schools as she could within her probation period and estimated she had inspected 91 schools and 30,000 children. She reported that the school premises were ill-ventilated, overcrowded and unhygienic, the desks were too high for small children and children were made to stand while reading and to exercise with dumb-bells. She argued that harsh discipline and a strict curriculum were unsuitable for 3-5 year olds and proposed a kindergarten system, with play space and hammocks for sleeping until the age of 6. She proposed that certified teachers should be replaced by qualified nurses with the Froebel Certificate. Encouraged by Sir John Gorst, Bathurst submitted her preliminary report before the end of her probation period and before it was requested by the Board of Education, knowing it was likely to result in her dismissal. Sir John Gorst (1835-1916) was an MP and his wife was the cousin of Bathurst's mother. He was interested in questions of child labour and the social conditions of children and gave advice on the contents of the report and on the covering letter before Bathurst submitted it on 16th August 1904. The Board of Education criticised it for making recommendations outside the remit of the investigation, rather than presenting collected data in accordance with the prescribed questions laid out in Form 61. Bathurst was asked to resign as from 7th February 1905 and, meanwhile, to complete her report as originally requested. Again with encouragement from Sir John Gorst, she submitted her completed report and a supplementary report on her resignation. The supplementary report attacked the system of inspection and included specific names and details as examples. After some debate, both reports were included in the series of Women Inspectors' Reports published by the Board of Education in September 1905. Bathurst's report was prefaced and footnoted by the Board to counter some of her statements and specific names and examples were omitted. There was general press and education press coverage of the Reports and particularly of Bathurst's and the Board of Education's comments. Bathurst carried on the dispute through letters and articles in the press. After her resignation she continued to take part in debates on the system of school inspections and infant school education. She later became involved in the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) . In 1932, when she sent her papers to the NUWT, she was living in the Isle of Wight.


The original order of the papers as they were received by the Institute has been retained, although some folder titles have been amended to clarify the contents. Katherine Bathurst partially arranged into folders and annotated the papers before she donated them to the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) in 1932. The material also seems to have been partially rearranged by Professor Gordon during his research.

Access Information

Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Other Finding Aids

IoE online catalogue.

Archivist's Note

Used IoE online catalogue. Submitted to Archives Hub as part of the Genesis 2009 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Custodial History

The papers were donated to the National Union of Women Teachers by Katherine Bathurst in 1932. The papers were distributed among various NUWT officers for assessment and Katherine Bathurst requested the return of some papers, in particular some of the originals of her correspondence with Sir John Gorst. They were later given to Professor Peter Gordon by a Miss Macdonald in the 1970s upon her retirement from the Institute; they had been her personal property although it is not known how she acquired them. The photocopies of the Women's Reports are likely to have been made by Gordon, and he also made some annotations on the material. Professor Gordon donated the papers to the archive in 2003.