Historical information

Depicted are nine Ruyton Girls' School prefects for the 1951 school year. The image is a formal school portrait taken outdoors on school grounds outside of Henty House (formerly Tarring). In the background, we can see three bicycles with cane baskets. The students are all dressed in knee-length check skirts, a dark jumper, light-coloured collared button-up blouse with a dark tie, wool blazers, and dark coloured shoes. Four girls are standing in the back row, and five are positioned in the front row. Students in the back row have been identified from left to right as M. Murray, B. Addison, T. Abson and H. Cole; in the front row, from left to right we can see S. Backhouse, J. Wigg (Vice Captain), F. Jacobs (Captain), E. Duff, and A. Dickinson. The same photograph appears in the Ruytonian 1951.

Student leadership commenced at Ruyton Girls' School in 1906 with the introduction of the prefect system. Prefects had numerous responsibilities—gate duty, grounds duty, classroom marking, assembly door watch, uniform monitoring, and even supervising student detention. In 1947, a dedicated Prefects Room was erected on the east side of the Ruyton Girls' School Assembly Room in Henty House.

The prefects system was revised in 1968 with a new leadership structure: there would be a permanent School Captain, Vice Captain and School Sports Captain; six permanent prefects would be elected, and the rest of the Matriculation class would form committees. These included Library, Social Services, S.C.M., Editorial, and Music. In this way, it was thought "that each Matric girl would have a certain amount of responsibility." With this revised structure came a brand new Prefects' Study, located in a former classroom next to the Domestic Science building. Each prefect was allocated one book locker, one clothing locker, "a small share in the heater", plus a new shared lounge.

The prefect system was updated again in 1974. All sixth formers would become prefects, or "school officials." This saw the sixth form divided into two halves: one group would be prefects for the first half of the year, then the second group would take the reigns in the latter half of the year.

In October 2023, Ruyton announced a new collaborative leadership structure for captains, prefects and house leaders, which would see two students in each leadership role.


The record has strong historic significance as it depicts a former notable student, Helen Gordon (maiden name Cole), pictured third from the right in the front row. Helen started at Little Ruyton in Prep 1940 and finished Year 12 in 1952 as School Captain, Bromby Captain, Form Captain for Matric, Tennis Captain, Hockey Captain, Swimming Vice Captain, and an award for Best All-Round Girl. She also played baseball for Victoria. After finishing school, Helen went on to graduate from the University of Melbourne as a physiotherapist in 1956. Her first position at age 19 involved setting up clinics with the Victorian Health Department Poliomyelitis Rural division.

Helen’s strong ties to Ruyton continued when she held the position of President of the Old Ruytonians’ Association from the start of 1966 to the end of 1967.

In 2019, Helen received an Order of Australia Medal for service to community health as a physiotherapist. She was also the recipient of the 2022 Victorian Senior Achiever Award at Parliament House.

Helen passed away in July 2023 at age 88.

The record's significance is further enhanced by its strong provenance, having been produced by Ruyton Girls' School and donated to the Archives by a familial connection.

Physical description

Black and white rectangular photograph printed on matte photographic paper.

Inscriptions & markings

Felicity Jacobs /
Judi Olsen /
Ann Dickinson /
Bev. Addison /
RGS011/1951/0004 /