• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE4869

Pendred, Edith Gladys

(1897 – 1964) Visit Ended
  • Born 28 February, 1897, Elsternwick Victoria Australia
  • Died 30 November, 1964, Canberra Australian Capital Territory Australia
  • Occupation Early Childhood Educationist, Kindergarten Principal


Gladys Pendred was considered in the mid-twentieth century ‘the main Australian authority in the field of early childhood education’. In 1944, after lobbying by Canberra kindergarten and mothercraft groups, Gladys was asked by the Minister of the Interior to draw up a plan for the extension of pre-school care in the Australian Capital Territory, known as the ‘Pendred Plan’. Pendred Street in the Canberra suburb of Pearce recognises her contribution to the Canberra community.


Gladys Pendred trained at the Melbourne Kindergarten Training College and was a director of the Lillian Cannam Free Kindergarten in South Melbourne. In 1928 Gladys was appointed Principal of the Kindergarten Training College and Supervisor of Free Kindergartens in Perth. Taking two years’ leave in late 1937, she was awarded a Carnegie Corporation grant to further her studies in the United States (BSc, Columbia) and Britain. On her return, Gladys endeavoured to bring the college into line with the ‘modern developments’ that she had observed overseas.

In 1941 Gladys resigned to take up the post of Field Officer for the Nursery Kindergarten Extension Board in Melbourne. She provided advice on planning playgrounds and equipment and served on an advisory committee of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for children’s programmes. In 1944, after lobbying by Canberra kindergarten and mothercraft groups, Gladys was asked by the Minister of the Interior to draw up a plan for the extension of pre-school care in the Australian Capital Territory, known as the ‘Pendred Plan’. In November that year, she was appointed Federal Pre-School Officer of the Australian Association for Pre-School Child Development (later Australian Pre-School Association). The job entailed an itinerant lifestyle and was described by Lady Bailey, President of the Association, as a ‘flying Federal Officer Service’.

Through her extensive travel and publicity schedule, Gladys was well-known in early childhood centres throughout Australia. Each year she presented numerous lectures, newspaper interviews and radio broadcasts. She edited the Association’s Parents News Sheets and wrote many herself. She also edited the successful book Play Materials for Young Children (1952).

Gladys worked hard to improve the standard of pre-school education and effect its extension to all children. She supervised the Lady Gowrie Child Centres, made recommendations for the development of pre-school services in the Northern Territory (1948), assisted the Philippines in the establishment of pre-school training (1948), and conducted a survey of child-minding centres in migrant hostels (1952). Gladys also kept up-to-date with advances in early childhood education research and practice, undertaking a British Council-funded study tour in 1949. She was a member of the ACT branch of the Australian Federation of University Women, the New Education Fellowship and the Australian College of Education (Fellow, 1964). In 1963 Gladys was appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE).

Following her death in 1964, the Australian Pre-School Association established the Gladys Pendred Memorial Trust that funded a library of educational books in each branch. In 1966 Pendred Street in the Canberra suburb of Pearce was gazetted. Appropriately, it was the address of a new pre-school.

More details of Pendred’s life can be found in: Mellor, Elizabeth J, ‘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 resources

  • Book
    • The Community Plans for its Children, Eighth Conference University of Sydney, 30 August - 5 September 1958, Australian Pre-School Association, 1958
    • Before School: The story of the Canberra pre-school centres, Combes, R C, Canberra Nursery School, Pre-School Advisory Committee, and Australian News and Information Bureau, 1952
    • A History of the Kindergarten Union of Western Australia, 1911-1973, Kerr, Rosemary, 1994
    • Some Aspects of Child Care & Education in Great Britain: A report to the Australian Association for Pre-School Child Development from the Federal Officer: January 9th-April 13th 1950, Pendred, Gladys Edith, and Australian Association for Pre-School Child Development, 1950
  • Edited Book
    • Play Materials for Young Children: A guide to parents and pre-school centre committees in selecting play materials, Pendred, Gladys E., 1964
  • Journal Article
    • Gladys Pendred - An Appreciation, 1965
    • Naughty Children, Pendred, G, 1947
    • Pre-School Centres in Australia, Pendred, G, 1964
    • The Late Gladys Pendred, OBE, BSc (Colom.) [Program], 1967
    • Gladys Pendred, 1897-1964 , 1841-2001, Waters, Joan, 2002
  • Newsletter
    • Obituary: Miss Gladys Edith Pendred, 1965
  • Newspaper Article
    • Infant Education: Importance of Health - An Expert's Opinion, 1928
    • Kindergarten Ideals: Miss Pendred Interviewed, 1928
    • To Study Child Development, 1937
    • A Carnegie Grant, 1938
    • Miss Pendred Resigns, 1941
    • Pre-school help for Philippines, 1957
  • Resource Section
  • Site Exhibition
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • ACT Heritage Library
    • HMSS 0141 Canberra Preschool Society Incorporated Records
    • HMSS 0043 Canberra Mothercraft Society Records
  • National Archives of Australia, National Office, Canberra
    • Miss Gladys Pendred - Honour
  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Records of the Australian Early Childhood Association, 1928-2005 [manuscript]
    • Records of the Australian Federation of University Women- ACT, 1944-1985 [manuscript]

Digital resources

Related entries

  • Affiliated
    • Canberra Mothercraft Society Inc (1929 - )
  • Member
    • Australian Federation of Graduate Women (Australian Capital Territory) Inc. (1944 - )