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Reference code

AU WA S712




  • 1847-09-09 - 1871-01-01 (Creation)

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Name of creator

AU WA A24 - GENERAL BOARD OF EDUCATION (1847-08-31 - 1871-08-17)

Administrative history

A small population, economic uncertainties, and denominational rivalries militated against the development of a comprehensive education system in Western Australia during the early years of the colony. Some progress was made, however, after 1847 when (at the urging of the Colonial Administrator, F C Irwin) the Legislative Council appointed an Education Committee. The Committee - known after 1849 as the General Board of Education - established a secular Girls' School and a Boys' School in Perth, opened government assisted schools in rural districts, and provided subsidies to Roman Catholic schools in the colony. The low fee structure and the egalitarian character of the schools were popular with colonists. Governor Kennedy, however, regarded the system as being extravagent.

In December 1855 a conflict between the Governor and the Board resulted in the resignation of nearly all Board members. A new Board was appointed by the Governor and a number of new policies implemented. Most notably, the General Board of Education became an adjunct of the Colonial Secretary's office and the Colonial Secretary became Board chairman. A new fee structure was introduced in which fees were paid directly to the Board, rather than to schoolmasters. A curriculum modelled on the Irish National School System was introduced and the subsidy to Roman Catholic schools was withdrawn. The withdrawl of support for Roman Catholic schools caused divisions within the colony and the issue remained contentious until Governor Weld restored subsidies through the Elementary Education Act of 1871. Under the new legislation, the General Board of Education was replaced by a body known as the Central Board of Education.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Outward correspondence of the General Board of Education (briefly called the General Committee of Education). WAS 583 contains indexes to this series.


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1847-09-09 - 1871-01-01

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Range Control Symbol = 1 -

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