In the early days of Guiding, the only resources which Guiders had, were Scouting For Boys, and the Scouts' Headquarters Gazette. For the rest, it was up to the Guiders to work out programmes for their Companies.
In order to lead girls through the programme, they had to master the skills included in the Guide Second and First Class tests, in order to be able to coach the girls, and assess their work. So, it soon became clear that there was a need for classes to help the new Guide Leaders master the knowledge and skills they would need to lead their units.
By 1921 there were training schools established in the north of England, the south of England, the West of England, and in Scotland. Diplomas were awarded to those who passed an examination at the end of their training course.
First, there was the Blue Cord Test. It showed that a Guider was qualified to run a Company and could instruce Guiders in certain subjects, being a first-rate Guider. Holders were entitled to wear a blue cord round their hat. The qualifications for it were:
"a) Before entering for the test the Guider must have been at a Training Week under a Diploma'd Guider.
b) Must be recommended by her Commissioner.
The test will be as follows:
1) She must be able to train Guiders for any of the Second or First Class Tests.
2) She must be able to train them in any of the following subjects:
Natural History, Tracking, Company Drill, Country Dances, Child Nurse or Sick Nurse, Housekeeping or Camp Cooking, Games, Camp Craft.
3) She must satisfy the Commandant that she has practical experience of the carrying out in detail of Guide Training; for example, a typical Guide evening, Enrolment, Inspection, and Court of Honour.
4) She should be able to speak on a given subject (it is immaterial if it is prepared or unprepared) for 10 minutes, in a clear and interesting way, to the satisfaction of the Commandant.
5) She must pass a written examination to the satisfaction of her Commandant and the Head of the Educational Department on the following subjects:-
The need of Training for Women and the Higher Aims of the Movement.
The Guides Organisation and Company Administration.
The Psychology of the Girl.
6) The Commandant must be satisfied from personal knowledge that she really understands the Guide spirit.
7) She must have a knowledge of the Handbook, 'Girl Guiding', 'Rules, Policy and Organisation', and 'Training Girls as Guides.'"
Then there was the 'Distinction Diploma' which was marked by a red cord round the hat. The qualifications for it were:
"1) Must have passed the Blue Cord Test with 90 per cent. marks.
2) Must show by practical administration of her Company or District for a year, after passing the Blue Cord Test, that she thoroughly grasps the principles of Guiding.
3) Must act as Assistant Commandant at a Training Week or Camp under one of the qualified examiners. (In exceptional circumstances Commandants may take Test 3.)
The following shall be appointed Examiners for Test 3 of Red Cord:- Mrs Julian Strode. Miss Bray. Miss Beryl Colman. Miss Prior.
Any Distinction Diploma'd Guider failing to do three Training Weeks a year, or equivalent work, may be asked to resign her Diploma.
4) Must hold the Camper's Badge and have been herself at least one week in camp.
5) Must pass the Final Test, to be taken by:- Miss Behrens, Mrs Julian Strode."
The highest rank was the Chief's Diploma.
"Chief's Diploma. An honour given by the Chief Guide herself to Distinction Diploma Guiders for special work done for the Movement. Distinguishing Mark. - Red and Blue Cord round hat."