8 December 2015

Linwood, Stockport, Tarlee, Pinkerton Plains

Rural schools in South Australia in my grandparents' times

Schools established early in the life of the colony of South Australia were funded by the ability of parents to pay for tuition and provide a suitable teacher and building. An application for a licence to teach in schools could be submitted to the Board of Education which had been established in 1847. The Act made it clear that it was incumbent on the local community who:
 are desirous to place such children under the tuition of a teacher to be named by them, with their residences and a description of the place where the school is proposed to be kept, and it shall also be certified by at least one Justice of the Peace, that he knows the residences of such persons to be as stated by them, that such teacher is known to him as a person of moral habits, and every way fit to undertake the care and instruction of children, and that proper accommodation has been provided for the said school....
The teacher appointed could be paid up to twenty pounds per annum for the first twenty pupils, and an extra one pound per pupil up to forty pounds. As settlement expanded many small schools were established with applications for licences regularly listed in the newspapers. By 1850 there were 65 schools receiving government aid. Licences were withdrawn if the teacher did not meet expectations.

The difficulty of maintaining enrolments and finding a suitable person to conduct the school led to this application in 1870. (3)
From; Annie Roe, Bethel, informing the Board that Linwood School was vacant, and stating that the inhabitants were willing to allow her to conduct the two schools at Linwood and Bethel.  To take the school, subject to the Inspector's report.
By this time John Horgan and his wife Honora O'Leary, (paternal great grandparents) were living on the farm at Linwood between these two schools and they had two small boys. Thomas Horgan b. 1867 and Andrew Joseph Horgan born 1869 soon to be followed by Catherine Mary Horgan b 1872, John Horgan b.1875, Johanna Horgan b 1877 and Nora Mary Horgan b.1878

Over at Pinkerton Plains, John O'Dea and his wife Maria Crowley (maternal great grandparents) were raising their family Margaret I O'Dea, b. 1866, Hannah Teresa O'Dea b. 1869 and soon to be followed by John Francis Benedict O'Dea b. 1870, Mary Anne O'Dea b.  1875, Patrick Joseph O'Dea b. 1877 and Michael James b. 1881
Here Elizabeth M. W. Dennis, of Pinkerton Plains school had stated (3):
 that there were few children attending her school, as most of  them were detained to assist in harvesting. There were 33 names on the roll, but although the parents had promised to send their children she could not say they had all attended as yet. She believed they intended to fulfil their promise as soon as possible. Forms to be supplied, and school to be inspected
So did my grandfathers attend either of these schools? As far as I have been able to ascertain at this stage, no registers of pupils for these schools in the relevant time periods are available through the archives.

Access to schools was not only limited by financial means but the vagaries of the seasons, the farm work needing to be done and the state of the roads all played a part. In 1875 an act was passed to ensure free, compulsory education for all children.

In 1882 John Horgan was once again appealing to the local board of main roads for the remediation work needed on a ditch on the main road near his property. Was it safe for his children to cross? Road conditions were always and indeed continue to be an issue for authorities. (4)

This report of a school visitation in 1883, gives us a brief glance at three of the local schools. (5)

School Visitation.—A visit of inspection was made on Friday, the 8th inst., by the Chairman of the Local Board of Advice (Mr. W. Lewis, J.P.), and Messrs. Cameron and Mellor, J.P.'s, to the following district schools, viz:
Linwood (J. Callier, master)—There were 14 boys and 9 girls present, the number on the roll being 16 boys and 13 girls, the average attendance for the month ending May 31st being 22. The classes were briefly examined in reading, spelling, grammar, arithmetic, geography, &c. The children were cleanly in appearance and well-behaved. The school premises are in a fair state of repair and clean.
 Stockport School (Mrs. Myles, head-mistress)—There were 17 boys and 19 girls present, the age of the youngest being 5 and the eldest 12 years. The general average attendance at this school is 40, but for the month ending the 30th ult. the average did not exceed 33½, which was no doubt owing to the many wet days during May. The children, who were examined in reading, spelling,meaning of words, writing, and geography, were attentive and moderately proficient, taking into account their extreme youth, and the fact of so few being in the third and fourth classes. The members present are of opinion that for a place like Stockport a male teacher might be the means of bringing to the school older children, especially boys. The school premises are in fair repair, excepting the fence, which it was decided should be repaired. 

Tarlee School (J. Latter, head master).—The number on the roll in this school is 41, the average attendance for last month being only 27½, but doubtless the low average resulted from the same cause as at Stockport. The youngest child attending school is 5 and the eldest 13½ years old. The children were examined in several branches; the writing on their slates from dictation was exceedingly good both as regards the writing and spelling and called forth the commendation of the visitors. The want of shed accommodation here as at other schools is greatly felt, and sundry small matters of repairs were noted down.
By June of 1883 John Horgan, father of Andrew and husband of Hanora had died age 48. At 43 she was left to struggle on the farm, a widow with 6 children the eldest of whom was 16 and the youngest 5.

At this stage I have no means of determining which schools my grandfathers may have attended. Nora Mary Horgan, Andrew's sister went on to become a school mistress so education was valued and Andrew may have spent some time studying to become a priest some years before his marriage in 1906. In later years Andrew's grandchildren attended the schools at both Stockport and Tarlee, and nine of his great grandchildren attended Tarlee. We have much to be grateful for when reflecting on those early schools and teachers who led the way and a free compulsory government supported system, education for all.

1. Comments on Education: Education in Early South Australia
(Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning's A Colonial Experience) viewed 8 December, 2015, http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/manning/sa/edu/comments.htm

2. 1847 'ACTS PASSED DURING THE PRESENT SESSION.',South Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1844 - 1851), 21 September, p. 4, viewed 8 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71609439

3. 1870 'BOARD OF EDUCATION.', The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 - 1922), 22 February, p. 3 Edition: SECOND EDITION., viewed 8 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207719071

4. 1882 'LOCAL BOARD OF MAIN ROADS. CENTRAL DISTRICT.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 21 April, p. 7, viewed 8 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73200943

5. 1883 'MUSIC IN KAPUNDA.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 12 June, p. 2, viewed 5 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106575591

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