James Tibbs was an educator who for nearly thirty years was headmaster of Auckland Grammar School. The school still has the reputation of one of New Zealand’s best secondary schools. Although Australian born, Tibbs was educated in England gaining an M.A. at Oxford in 1883. After graduation James and his wife moved to Tasmania where James was a mathematics teacher before emigrating to New Zealand in 1885 to teach at Auckland Grammar.
He was appointed headmaster (principal) in 1893. Auckland Grammar was co-educational and state endowed. It was under the leadership of Tibb’s that the school’s reputation for academic excellence was developed. The emphasis was on developing pupils for university study and so under Tibb’s there was resistance to both free-placement of pupils and to vocational and technical training within the grammar school environment.
Tibb’s particularly valued the autonomy the headmaster traditionally had and so he was not amenable to any loss of control, particularly over staffing but also in complying with Government’s statutory involvement in education. One major change during Tibb’s tenure was the abandonment of co-education and the development of gender separated schools. James Tibbs was also active in public life and received the CMG in recognition of his service.
Tibbs, James William
Died 17 Feb 1924
aged 69 years
Block D Row 31 Plot 63