- 1890-01-01 - 1906-12-31 (Creation)
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The Education Department held responsibility for all primary, secondary and technical schools, teachers' training colleges, universities.
By amendment to the Elementary Education Act in 1893, the Central Board of Education was abolished and a Minister of Education was appointed, having all the powers and duties previously vested in the Central Board. Under the 1893 Act, the Minister was empowered to appoint and dismiss teachers; schools were classified; teachers were graded; teachers positions were defined, and a salary scale for teachers implemented.
The overall management of the Education Department was vested in the Inspector-General of Schools, an office created in 1897 and first occupied by Cyril Jackson. Two years later, the schools system was revised substantially by the Public Education Act of 1899. The Act abolished school fees, provided for co-educational schools, and made attendance compulsory for children between the ages of six and fourteen years. The Act also established a new curriculum which included manual training and household management.
The administrative structure of the Education Department was altered by the Education Act of 1928. This statute re-affirmed the centralized character of the state's public school system by redefining the Minister's powers with regard to the establishment of schools, the training of teachers, the attendance of children, and the organization of Parents' and Citizens' Associations. Following the 1928 Act, responsibility for the operations of the Education Department was vested in the office of the Director-General; he was empowered to promulgate Administrative Instructions which amplified the statutory regulations attending the Act. The Education Department was divided into five divisions (Primary Education, Secondary Education, Technical Education, Teacher Education, and Special Services), each controlled by a Director.
The department was reorganized again in 1987 and today operates as the Department of Education and Training.
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The Elementary Education Act of 1871 abolished the General Board of Education and replaced it with a body known as the Central Board of Education. The Board consisted of the Colonial Secretary (who acted as chairman) and four laymen appointed by the government for three year terms. To preclude sectarianism, no two appointees could be of the same religious denomination. The Central Board was responsible for secular instruction in all schools receiving government aid. To this end, the Board was empowered to make by-laws and regulations, to distribute funds and endowments, to establish curricula and prescribe textbooks, and to set teachers' salaries and pupils' fees.
The 1871 Act defined two classes of schools: non-denominational "Government Schools" and "Assisted Schools". The latter, which were Roman Catholic foundations, were eligible to receive roughly half the grant applicable to Government schools. Despite opposition from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, grants-in-aid to Assisted schools were discontinued in 1895. The Elementary Education Act authorized the formation of district school boards, which were subordinate to the Central Board of Education. The district boards consisted of five members elected by local rate-payers for three year terms. District boards were responsible for the general supervision of all schools within their districts, for the appointment of teachers, and for the attendance of school-age children. However, enforcement of attendance proved difficult, as did the system of appointing staff at the local level, and in 1894 these duties were transferred to the central authority. Thereafter, the power of the district boards declined steadily. In 1922 they were replaced by Parents' and Citizens' Associations - fund-raising bodies which did not have any significant administrative responsibilities.
The advent of responsible government in 1890, coupled with the discovery of gold and the dramatic growth in population, imposed considerable demands on the educational structure of the colony - demands which were not easily met by the amateur, part-time Central Board of Education. The Forrest government was also committed to a highly centralized education system. Accordingly, by an amendment to the Act in 1893, the Board was abolished and a Minister for Education appointed, having all the powers and duties previously vested in the Board. With the creation of this portfolio, the Education Department came into being.