Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík, Junior College, was established in 1874 by a married couple named Þóra Melsteð and Páll Melsteð. The establishing of the school was a stepping-stone in the fight to gain equal rights for Icelandic women, because at that time women did not have the right to enter any secondary schools of the country. This was the first school for women in Iceland and its name is consequently preserved to commemorate this milestone.
For the first four years the school was situated in the home of Mrs. and Mr. Melsteð at Austurvöllur (near Alþingishús, the Parliament Building) in the center of Reykjavík, but then a special building was erected in the same place. In 1909 the school was moved to a new building at Fríkirkjuvegur (near the Lake) where it has been situated ever since. Then a special line of domestic science was introduced in the school, but the study of liberal arts and science grew increasingly even though housecraft played an important part for quite a while.
Kvennaskólinn was a private school, which was managed by a school board, but it was also funded by the local authorities and the state. In 1946 the organization of the school was adapted to the educational system of the country and it started to admit girls passing the primary school examinations. If the students completed a four-year course, they graduated from the school with a lower secondary school certificate which was usually called “Kvennaskólapróf”.
In 1977, after the passing of the Primary School Act, a two-year division of social services was established at the school and in 1979 a special agreement was made with the municipal and state authorities about the administration of three lines, one of which ended in the University Entrance Examination. The school’s subjects were organized in courses on a unit-credit basis.
In 1977 the first boy gained admission to the school which has been coeducational ever since.
In 1980 a new school wing was opened. It was erected by the municipal and state authorities. In consequence the school board assigned the school to these authorities in equal parts. Since the autumn of 1992 Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík has been located in two places: at Fríkirkjuvegur 9 and in a building at Þingholtsstræti 37 which was originally erected for the Commercial College of Iceland. This building (see the photo) was also used by the University of Iceland during the winter of 1992-93 but Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík has been the only occupant since then. The building has been known under the informal name of “Uppsalir” and it will be used until a more suitable name can be found.
In the spring of 1982 the first students graduated with a University Entrance Examination (Stúdentspróf). In 1987 regulations (# 202/1987) were made for the school in compliance with the Secondary Grammar School Act (# 12/1970) and then its subjects were again organised in courses on a one-year basis. At that time the name of the school was also changed so its official name is now “Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík, menntaskóli við Fríkirkjuveg”.
Like the great majority of Icelandic schools, Kvennaskólinn operates within the public sector. The school’s academic programs are in accordance with the National Curriculum Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Students can choose between three different lines of study: Natural sciences line, Social sciences line, Languages and Humanities line.
Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík has implemented a new curriculum according to new laws from 2008. The school is a three to four-year college for ages 16 to 19, roughly comparable with the last two years of grammar school and the first year at university in Britain or the last year of High School plus the first 2 years of College in the USA. Besides offering general education Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík strives to prepare its students for careers or further studies in social science, modern languages or natural science. The students graduate from the school with a University Entrance Examination (Stúdentspróf).
According to the new curriculum students can finish after three to four-years studies (average 3.3 years). They finish 200 units, 157 in the core subjects, 53 in elective subjects. 1 unit = 3 days work for the student (6-8 hours per day).
The courses can be on three levels (1., 2. or 3.) depending on knowledge, skill and competence
The University Entrance Examination (stúdentspróf) is on 3. level – between 1/6 and 1/3 of the units (or courses) need to be on 3. Level.
Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík has been growing for the last few years after the reform and now there are about 650 students and 60 teachers. The students are very active in the school’s social life. There is a very active drama society in the school, a debating club and clubs in various other fields.
Kvennaskólinn is pretty well equipped with TV-sets, VCR’s, computers and the like. The teachers are very interested in the use of new technology in teaching. They have also been doing a lot of work in the field of Quality Control, e.g. surveys to find out what the staff, the teachers, students, parents and the community think of the college and the teaching and what they can do to make Kvennaskólinn an even better college than it is today.
At Kvennaskólinn there is a great interest in getting in contact with the rest of Europe and the teachers have participated in various projects in recent years. Every year groups of students go abroad on study trips and take part in student-exchange projects.
- 650 students
- 65 teachers/staff
- 1 principal, 1 vice principal, 1 study director, 1 financial director and 1 office clerk. (Since 1874 = 6 principals)
- Kvennaskólinn operates within the public sector
- The school is in three old buildings;
– at Fríkirkjuvegur 9 from 1909, Þingholtsstræti 37 from 1993, Miðbæjarskólinn from 2011
– 30 classrooms
- Extra Curricular Activities and Tradition:
– Choir, theatre club and many other clubs, the student runs. “Discos” and Proms 6 times/year
– Very small sports-hall
– Student counselling 1 position (div. 2 specialists)
- Special traditions: The day of the Icelandic costume, Peysufatadagur. The Apple Day, Epladagurinn, before Christmas and a costumes day on the last day before exams, Dimmisjón (www.kvenno.is )