Historical Notes – Mitchell’s Flat School

 

Introduction

This listing of residents of Mitchell’s Flat is based on the ‘Roll of Pupils’ for the Mitchell’s Flat School for the period from 1903 to 1954. The entries in the roll have been entered into a Microsoft Access database and then arranged by the surname of the parent or guardian.

The roll contains 410 entries including on some occasions more than one for the same pupil. A pupil may have enrolled, left the school and later returned. The most likely cause being that of the parent or guardian leaving the district and later returning but possibly also due to the seasonal needs of a farming community. The largest by far occupational grouping is that of farmer.

The area takes its name from the original owner Dr. James Mitchell who received Grant No. 40 on the 15 August 1822 and purchased a further 2,000 acres having a total holding of 4230 acres.

Background.

From the early 1800’s the dilemma of an educational system acceptable to all churches and the colony concerned consecutive colonial governors. Various attempts by Burke and Gipps had mixed reception and results. Finally in 1848 Governor Fitzroy established the Board of National Education and the Board of Denominational Education. The first having responsibility for ‘National Schools’ which had no religious affiliation and received funding from the Government.  The second administered the schools subsided by the state but conducted by the Churches. In 1866 these boards were subsequently replaced by a part-time Council of Education that continued until 1880 when it was replaced by the Department of Public Instruction as a result of the Public Instruction Act of 1880.

The new Act made education compulsory for children aged 6 to 14 and required the parents to ‘cause such children to attend school for a period not less than seventy days in each half- year’. The number of pupils necessary for the establishment of schools was lowered to 12 for provisional schools and reduced from 25 to 20 for public schools. It signaled the withdrawal of state aid for denominational schools commencing in 1883. Henry Parkes act resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of school enrollments in government schools.[1]

There is little doubt that the new act prompted the application on the 15 August 1881 by the residents of Mitchell’s Flat for a ‘new’ school. William Meyn, Charles F. Beh, W. Tacon, Kiernard Rigney and Joseph Bendeich signed the application. Louis Ernest, Philip Watson, Henry Hedges, William Griffith, Michael Allsop, James Cantwell, John Paton, and William Johnson further supported it.[2]

Interestingly despite the reduction in the number of pupils required for a public school and that the Mitchell’s Flat application listed twenty-seven potential pupils the school still only opened as a provisional school in April 1882.[3] A ‘provisional school’ being one that provided elementary education.[4]

Some ten years later on the 22 October 1891 a second application to establish another school this time at ‘Lower Mitchells Flat’ was made. The request was lodged and signed ‘on behalf of the residents at Lower Mitchells Flat’ by Peter Krams, John Thompson, George Alder, Patrick Bourke and Gregory Szauka. The application noted that there was another school ‘maintained or aided by the State…within two miles of the proposed school’ at Upper Mitchell’s Flat. The eighteen residents or guardians supporting the application affirmed that they had 59 children between four and fourteen within a two-mile radius. Signatories were Peter Krams, Frank Badior, Michael Allsop, John Thompson, William Griffith, Louis George Ernest, George Alder (?), Philip Watson, F.Dagg, Frank Holz, Patrick Bourke, John Ernest, Michael Hogan, Matthew Brunner, George Badior, David Badior, G. Szauka and H. Horadam.[5] It is noteworthy that 51 of the 59 potential pupils were catholic possibly reflecting the effect of the earlier withdrawal of state aid to church schools and their subsequent closure.

 Acknowledgement.

The writer wishes to thank Brian Holz for making the roll available for this research.

            Terry Callaghan

Singleton 2000.



[1] New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Government Schools of New South Wales. 1848 – 1998: 150 Years

[2] Mitchells Flat School 1882 – 1956, School Reunion 26 March 2000.

[3] New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Government Schools of New South Wales. 1848 – 1998: 150 Years.

[4] It would seem that the principal differences between provisional schools and public schools was in the number of pupils, whether education was solely at primary level or primary and post primary and in the teacher classification.

[5] Mitchells Flat School 1882 – 1956, School Reunion 26 March 2000

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4 thoughts on “Historical Notes – Mitchell’s Flat School

  1. Pingback: Terry Callaghan -History & Genealogy | B.A. (Hist), Grad. Dip. Local & Applied History

  2. These notes helped me in researching the Tacon family and have given me more insight into the part that my ancestors played in the development of this country.

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    • Hi Peter, thanks for your comments. I have a page containing the school roll with TACON names available on line at

      http://www.terrycallaghan.com/?page_id=1283

      You will have to email me at terrycallaghan@iinet.com.au to obtain the password.

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