Miss Anne Ironside from New Zealand became Principal of Girton at the beginning of 1920. Owing to indifferent health she was compelled to leave after a year and one term. Several of her former pupils said that Miss Ironside “had continuing poor health. She had a good head but did not have much personality. She only took them for Scripture and they did not get to know her very much.”
In her first annual report Miss Ironside said “The year has been a most trying one, fraught with unusual difficulties. Conditions of work are entirely different from what I have experienced. The whole outlook of Australian children is also different, so that it has taken some time to thoroughly grasp the situation. Owing to an outbreak of Diptheria in the town, the school on March 29 was closed by the health inspector. When the school was reopened on April 12 it was to find that two of the staff were absent, having contracted serious illness. It was impossible to fill the senior place quite satisfactorily. The assistance I have had has been temporary and inadequate.
Miss Ironside was not happy about the deployment of teachers. She said “The system of centralisation of education which prevails in Victoria has a most serious effect on the law of supply and demand for teachers. Such centralisation it seems to me can only be combatted by good financial support, which will enable the Council to offer bigger inducements to first class teachers to leave Melbourne…
“The roll number since opening on February 11 has steadily increased; 27 are newcomers. I hope we shall have a bigger school next year.
Miss Ironside was also unhappy about the tone of the school. She said “I wish girls, too, to be proud to say they belong to Girton, to be proud to wear the complete school unform, all regulations governing school discipline and conduct, regulations which go towards making the tone of a ladies’ college. In this respect I need support from the parents. Only punctuality at all times, regular attendance, and work regularly done, can lead to good results.
Miss Ironside resigned because of ill-health at the end of the first term in 1921. She had had great difficulty in coping with the different educational system in Victoria. She had been most unwell and was not happy. The council accepted her resignation with understanding but with regret.
On her return to New Zealand Miss Ironside became a lecturer at the Training College at Christchurch, and Miss Eveline Brownlie was appointed headmistress in her place.