Monday, April 23, 2012

Jane Shaw Encyclopedia: Percie

In the Moochers stories, Percie was a co-educational school on the east coast of Scotland. It was founded in 1940 and went bankrupt in 1950. It was run on fairly liberal grounds with very little in the way of hierarchy. The school was the opposite of the public school system in Britain at the time. There were no head students or prefects and everyone had an equal say. The pupils were given the freedom not to attend lessons and there was none of the strictness usually associated with British schools. On one occasion, a boy locked up the headmaster for a whole day and ran the school himself, apparently with no disciplinary consequences. The headmaster is not named, but the pupils referred to him as the Old Man. The only teacher to be named in the stories was a maths teacher known as old Williams. Mr. Williams is described as having a “lashing tongue” although the pupils seem to have been undaunted by him. One aspect of the school that pupils evidently enjoyed was the debating society, where all were free to speak their minds. The closure of the school caught all the parents and pupils on the hop as there appeared to be no lack of students and fees were incredibly high. Fiona Auchenvole’s mother repeatedly expresses incredulity at the bankruptcy of the school considering the astronomical cost of its tuition. The closure of Percie resulted in a scramble by desperate parents to find alternative schools for their children. Fiona and her cousin Katherine Morton were able to find last-minute places at Pendragon Manor in Cornwall because Katherine’s mother was at school with Pendragon’s head mistress. The fate of the other Percie pupils following the school’s closure is not recorded. The teaching methods at Percie were clearly approved of by its pupils but were held in contempt by traditional public school pupils. The headmaster’s liberal ways were ahead of their time and were what attracted Katherine’s free-thinking father to enrol his daughter at the school. However, it is obvious that the headmaster had little in the way of managerial skills and this led to Percie’s financial ruin.