Dorothy Rendall, Haileybury’s First Girl Student

Year: 1905

Headmaster: Charles Rendall

Nearly a century before the introduction of parallel education, Dorothy Rendall was enrolled as the first girl to attend Haileybury College. Daughter of the first Head, Charles Rendall, she lived on site with her family, and was eased into the School over two years. She attended classes with the boys. She also had a governess but basically received all of her education at Haileybury.

She and her family ate with the resident staff and students at meal times. Students could have butter or jam on their bread but not both. Some would butter the bread, turn it over, and put jam on the other side, hoping not to be observed.

In 1905, when she was eight, she commenced Preparatory classes. Class sizes ranged from 14 to 18. In 1908, at 11 years of age, she studied Ancient Greek, a demanding subject. Class sizes were smaller as she reached the upper grade levels. At this time, Haileybury’s total enrolment hovered around or under 100.

Dorothy indicated that it wasn’t easy being the Head’s daughter. In 1907 her father’s comments on her work were more severe than those of her classroom teachers, her Maths described as “poor”. While a capable academic, her real passion was sport. For Christmas in 1908, her father’s Christmas present to her was a cricket bat! She excelled at state-level tennis for Victoria and loved gymnastic activities. It’s likely she participated informally in many boys’ sports over her school years. She later became an A grade golfer and lawn bowler.

Dorothy was completing her Senior Certificate in 1914 when tragedy struck. Her mother Fanny died in a tragic motoring accident. Charles Rendall, heartbroken, retired at the end of the year. Dorothy went to live with him in nearby Haileybury Street.

In a further link with the School, she later married Albert Middleton, a pre-war Haileybury teacher who served in WWI and went on to a career in law.