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 Post subject: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2019, 10:38 
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This came up in the Louise Redfield thread, so I thought I should make a topic for discussion. I wonder if EBD had any mistresses in mind as a potential successor for Miss Annersley, or which mistress would have been a good potential successor. The Chalet Girls Grow Up implied Miss Wilmot wanted to take over, though in Challenge she found the whole thing very difficult and was relieved when Miss Annersley came back.

Personally I would have gone with either her or Miss Ferrars, since presumably by then she'd be more experienced and older (unless she'd met a Hot Doctor in the meantime and got married!)


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2019, 11:51 
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My bet would be on Kathie Ferrars. Nancy is competent as head, but I don't think she actually likes being in charge. I see being the senior maths mistress as as much responsibility as she wants. Kathie's too junior in Challenge to take over, but with some seasoning she'd be a good candidate. The main weakness is that she wouldn't have taught outside the Chalet school - Miss Annersley and Wilson (and Nancy) had experience at other schools.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2019, 13:47 
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I would replace Miss Annersley with Miss Edwards (current at the English branch). She's clearly got the experience and as the Swiss branch is clearly so much more important (cough) it would be promotion.

Then I'd rotate some staff through the English branch* and perhaps St. Mildreds to give them a broader basis of experience with a view to becoming future "heads of department" etc. It's about time the CS took staff development and succession planning seriously...

Not sure with whom I'd replace Miss Edwards at the English branch. One option would be to send Miss Wilmot there, or there may be an obvious up-and-coming member of staff already at the English branch.

* and staff from the English branch to Switzerland...


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2019, 17:05 
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The problem is that few of the mistresses get a lot of airtime during the Swiss years, and none of the ones who do really stand out as future Headship material, so when EBD came to write Challenge, she was basically stuck with a choice of either Nancy or Kathie, because those two are the only ones who've had any major exposure as characters. Kathie's still way too young and inexperienced to be a credible Head of such a huge establishment, so Nancy gets the job by default, not because she's really suited to it. Whereas in the Tyrol and Armishire books you've got Miss Annersley and then Miss Wilson well-established as leaders amongst the mistresses, and therefore the obvious choice as Head when the time comes.

You can basically split the Swiss mistresses into three groups:
Nancy, Kathie and (before she marries) Biddy are the ones who get the most airtime, the ones who get most of the action during lessons, rambles, trips, etc.
Then you've got second tier mistresses like Mlle de Lachenais, Miss Derwent, Miss Moore, Miss Denny, Miss Andrews and Miss Burnett, who're consistently there and get the odd spotlight moment, but don't get half as much screentime as the top tier.
Finally you've got background mistresses who only get the odd mention, like Miss Armitage, Miss Lawrence and Miss Yolland, who don't serve much purpose beyond making up the numbers.

I think EBD really needed to bring two or three other mistresses forward more to beef up the main cast a bit, and pick one of those to start grooming as Miss Annersley's successor. Miss Derwent or Miss Moore, perhaps. Kathie would probably be fine in the future, but I doubt she'd be experienced enough by the time Miss Annersley's ready to hang up her gown, she's not even a Head of Department by the end of the series.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2019, 18:11 
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Really, it should be whoever is senior mistress. Is that Mlle de Lachenais by the time we get to Challenge?

It’s a shame that the feisty mountain climbing Mlle of the early years is merely the doyenne of the tea tray by this point, and it’s also a shame that EBD has part of the plot of Challenge be that Mlle doesn’t feel up to the job (other than, obviously, she needs to rule out ever other mistress to make the plot work).

Even the triplets think it’s improbable that Nancy gets the job.


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2019, 20:36 
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They might have done better to get a new face in, but there's no way that would have happened. I think it would have been Nancy, with Kathie as Nell to her Hilda, but it does the beg the question as to why she was shown to struggle with the responsibility in Challenge. Maybe EBD was so attached to Hilda by then that she thought she was irreplaceable!

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2019, 01:17 
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Thinking about it, the school has never really hired a head. They started with Madge, who was the founder. When she got married, Mlle Lepattre took over as the cofounder, and quite frankly was a fairly weak head. When she became an invalid, Miss Annersley was offered it as the senior member of staff. At that point, the school was still fairly small, and Miss Annersley had a masters' degree and experience before coming to the CS. Miss Wilson sort of drifted into the co-head role.

In Gay, four of the most senior mistresses were injured and the school literally had no other staff who were capable of taking over the administrative duties for a month or two until Miss Wilson came back. They hired in a panic and regretted it. When the school split, Miss Edwards, the head of the junior school, took over the English branch, and Miss Wilson, the cohead, took over the finishing branch.

Also, mistresses at the CS tend to leave when they get married, but they don't really have a culture of people moving on to other jobs. Miss Slater was mocked for leaving for a promotion. So it's not a place that encourages ambition. At the end of the series Miss Annersley is around 50, Mlle Lachennais and Miss Derwent (alternately senior mistress) are much younger, as is Nancy, head of maths. So if Miss Annersley retires at 65, Kathie will have been teaching at the same school for 20 years in the same role, which is not a great way to grow a future Head of a large school.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2019, 09:04 
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Perhaps Pam Slater, having had a few years as Head of Maths at her school in Northern England, might have had second thoughts about learning/brushing up her German, and come back into the school with her added experience of elsewhere, and taken it on?

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2019, 19:25 
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Is Mlle de Lachenais really that much younger than Hilda? She is an established mistress in the Tyrol years, so must surely be over well 40 by the end of the series...?

The CS actually reminds me of many a small business (including ours), where you have a very small number of older, more experienced people running the show, and a lot of younger less experienced people as “the team”. In the real world many of those young people would move on after a few years, like Miss Slater, once they realised there wasn’t much scope for promotion because there are so few senior roles, and those that are there are bing filled by the “lifers”...

Succession planning is quite the challenge in a small organisation, if you want to promote from within and there aren’t obvious stepping stone roles.


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2019, 20:31 
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I think she says in Coming of Age that it was her first job, but, even if she was only in her early 20s then, she'd have been around 25 by New, when Miss Wilson mentions being 30.

A lot of firms end up selling up when the long-established boss retires, and that's what happened with both St Scholastika's and the Tanswick Chalet School, but "our" Chalet School's too big just to be merged into another school, and Madge wouldn't have wanted that anyway.

It seems to be more typical for schools to bring in someone new than to promote an existing teacher to the headship, but the CS has got very insular by the Swiss years, and I think they'd have wanted a boot room approach of promoting someone internally - but that person then isn't going to have any experience of headship, and even being a departmental head isn't that much responsibility when there are only 2 people in the department. And the poor person would get "Well, that's not what Miss Annersley would have done" every time they said or did anything!

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2019, 21:15 
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I'm not sure that they wouldn't have had to have a Management Team for at least a few years, with one figurehead person who did the public stuff and the rest to manage the organisation, logistics etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2019, 23:32 
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Presumably with the school growing they would have added more staff and more leadership positions. But I agree that it would have remained very insular and succession would have been an issue - unless a particularly outstanding candidate emerged.


I wonder if EBD would have ultimately made Len headmistress? I know she was pledged to Reg but she was one of EBDs favourite characters so he might have met with a convenient accident...

Pam Slater is probably a better idea though.


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 19 Nov 2019, 08:09 
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In Coming of Age, Mademoiselle says she was 'barely twenty-two' when she started at the school, which is in Rivals. Nearly three years later, in New CS, Miss Wilson is 30 so there is almost eight years between them. Prefects is probably about 25 years later than Rivals so she would be 47 when the series ends.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2019, 14:23 
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Really, whoever followed Miss Annersley would have a horrible time. Anyone from within would be establishing authority over former peers, and under immense pressure to do it just like Hilda would - everyone would have an opinion. And she'd have Joey next door, making sure she did things right. But the school has an almost pathological fear of outsiders, to the point that they pressure Stacie into teaching junior maths - a PhD classics scholar who was visiting the area, who has never taught below the university level, and whose own early education was highly eccentric - rather than actually hire a trained teacher as a substitute.

Thinking back to my own school system, my schools were part of a city wide school district, with about 4000 students at the high school level. Teachers could teach at multiple schools, and work their way from teacher to department head to vice principal to principal, and there were enough staff to select the ones who were interested in and (hopefully) good at administration.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2019, 17:37 
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I'm raking my brain here - did Nell Randolph actually teach at the English branch in EBD canon, or only in one or more of the many drabbles? If she did, she would have some years' experience there by the time Miss Annersley was ready to retire, be well versed in the school traditions and might be a good candidate to succeed her. I know the two are related, but only cousins or something. Just a thought!


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2019, 17:59 
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She does get a job at Glendower House, Kathie mentions it in New Mistress. She specifically applies for a job there rather than at the Platz because she wants to avoid any issues with her connection to Miss Annersley. With that in mind I doubt she'd want to directly succeed her, given the inevitable comparisons that would arise.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 18:22 
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Aquabird wrote:
She does get a job at Glendower House, Kathie mentions it in New Mistress. She specifically applies for a job there rather than at the Platz because she wants to avoid any issues with her connection to Miss Annersley. With that in mind I doubt she'd want to directly succeed her, given the inevitable comparisons that would arise.


It's not just that Miss Annersley is her relation, though. Kathie says Nell's mother is very ill and so doesn't want to leave her all on her own. They've bought a house near the English school so she can go in each day to teach, rather than board. I feel that was the real reason for staying in UK, not the fact that she was related to the Head.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 27 Nov 2019, 17:53 
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I have just read this and agree with many of the comments. I will say that I was flabbergasted when Nancy got the job in Challenge. She was the last person I would have chosen mainly because I got the impression she took life extremely easily. I would have put in both Miss Derwent and Miss Moore ahead of her.

I wonder if EBD was thinking about replacing Hilda as head? Maybe she thought she had gone as far as she could with her. If the replacement was to happen soon, why not Miss Wilson? She was wasted at that finishing school. If not, the head of the English Branch.

If it was far in the future, an outsider would be best but that I cannot see. I would say then Miss Ferrars.

Interesting if we could see what Joey's place would have been. We might instead have the new head depending on Len for the "young" viewpoint in much the same role as Joey's position in the Armishire books. EBD adored Len so would have wanted her so have some role.


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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 28 Nov 2019, 00:51 
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I do think the school overthinks its temporary Heads. In Challenge, they're not hiring a permanent head in a difficult term. They need someone to handle the administrative duties of Head competently for a single term. It's the fall term, so there won't even be much interviewing with parents. I agree that someone like Miss Derwent would do just fine.

The other thing is that Nancy is the senior maths mistress. She's not going to be doing Head duties plus her teaching duties, so they would really have needed to hire a temporary maths mistress for the term.

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 Post subject: Re: Miss Annersley's successor
PostPosted: 28 Nov 2019, 08:41 
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It's interesting that Miss Annersley herself doesn't get much screen time before she becomes Head. Miss Wilson's far more involved. When Marie says that she doesn't want the whole school knowing about her engagement, Jo immediately says that surely she'll tell Bill, but doesn't mention Miss A. Miss Maynard and Miss Stewart also seem to feature far more than Miss A does. Maybe EBD thought it was better to promote someone who hadn't been so prominent ... but then she does the opposite by promoting Nancy.

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