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Pendred, Edith Gladys (1897–1964)

by Elizabeth J. Mellor

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Edith Gladys Pendred (1897-1964), by unknown photographer

Edith Gladys Pendred (1897-1964), by unknown photographer

State Library of Western Australia

Edith Gladys Pendred (1897-1964), kindergarten teacher, was born on 28 February 1897 at Elsternwick, Melbourne, daughter of Benjamin Pendred, a commercial traveller from England, and his Victorian-born wife Edith Marion, née Chalker. Dux (1915) of Fintona Presbyterian Girls' Grammar School, Camberwell, Gladys studied at the Melbourne Teachers' College and Melbourne Kindergarten Training College (Mooroolbeek). In 1925 she became a director with the Free Kindergarten Union of Victoria.

Although children were Pendred's main interest, it was through her work with adults that she was most influential. While principal (1928-41) of the Kindergarten Training College, Perth, she oversaw the education of students at the college and served as a supervisor for the Kindergarten Union of Western Australia. In 1937 she received a grant from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: she visited educational institutions in Britain and the United States of America in 1938 and completed a B.Sc. at Teachers' College, Columbia University, New York. After returning to Perth in 1940, she recommended that kindergartens should base their work on new theories of child development from America and Britain.

In 1942 Pendred was appointed field officer for the Nursery Kindergarten Extension Board, Melbourne. She advised parents and politicians on matters relating to young children, spoke on the radio, co-ordinated newsletters, and argued tirelessly for improved funding and services. The establishment (1944) of the Nursery School at Acton, Canberra, owed much to her efforts. Succeeding Christine Heinig in November 1944 as federal education officer for the Australian Association for Pre-School Child Development (Australian Pre-School Association), Miss Pendred was based in Melbourne and then in Canberra. She travelled widely, conducted reviews of the Lady Gowrie child centres, organized staff activities and association conferences, encouraged research and arranged exhibitions of pre-school work.

Pendred sat on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's advisory committee for children's programmes. In 1957 she spent time in the Philippines as a consultant for the Colombo plan. She edited the A.A.P.S.C.D. booklet, Play Materials For Young Children (Melbourne, 1952), contributed to the Australian Council for Educational Research's Review of Education in Australia 1955-1962 (Melbourne, 1964), and wrote articles for the Pre-School Child Bulletin and the Australian Pre-School Quarterly. In 1963 she was appointed O.B.E. In 1964 she was elected a fellow of the Australian College of Education. She belonged to the Canberra Association of University Women, the Soroptimist Club of Canberra, and the Lyceum Club, Melbourne.

Strong, intellectually honest, energetic and committed, Pendred had a direct manner which could intimidate young teachers, yet it was tempered by kindness and a keen sense of humour. Although she proved to be as capable as an administrator as she was as a writer and speaker, she was essentially a teacher who never lost her enjoyment and appreciation of children. Early in 1964 she began to work part time. She died of a coronary occlusion on 30 November that year in Canberra Community Hospital and was buried with Anglican rites in Canberra cemetery. The Australian Pre-School Association established (1965) the Gladys Pendred memorial fund.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Kerr, A History of the Kindergarten Union of Western Australia 1911-1973 (Perth, 1994)
  • Canberra Association of University Women, Newsletter, Jan 1965
  • Australian Pre-School Quarterly, Feb 1965
  • Canberra Times, 2-3 Dec 1964
  • West Australian, 2 Dec 1964
  • A. Nakano-Jackson, From the Cradle . . . (manuscript held by Australian Early Childhood Assn, Canberra)
  • private information.

Citation details

Elizabeth J. Mellor, 'Pendred, Edith Gladys (1897–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pendred-edith-gladys-11361/text20295, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 18 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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