UNIQUE EDUCATION IN PIONEERING NORTH PINE
1874: NORTH PINE PROVISIONAL SCHOOL #183 & 183½
With a growing rural population in the riverside settlement that was to become originally known as North Pine, a steady establishment of affiliate services grew around the town.
The Cob and Co. Coach which ran from Brisbane to Gympie stopped in North Pine and the place evolved as somewhat of a northern terminus. Gympie Road, the road to Gympie and gold, ran straight through the village and initially stopped at Tom Petrie’s Murrumba homestead. Passengers would stop and experience the new growth in the further reaches of European colonial settlement of South East Queensland.
Services began to form foundations in the area and a township was eventually equipped with a hotel, a general store, a bakery, police station, post office, churches etc. Many more business initiatives (generally run as families) mushroomed over time and in the future a bridge would finally be built over the Pine River and the telegraph would arrive, before the eventual grand opening of the steam railway.
With this increased development came more people, which included more families with children who needed to be educated and no doubt kept away from their parents while they worked with back-breaking toil to create life in a brutal environment.
It is hard to believe there were opponents to the national education system that was developing, with claims it was godless and heathen, hinting at a highly conservative and outspoken Christian element of society. (Source: 1865 ‘The Courier.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 27 May, p. 4, viewed 22 January, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1272898). Perhaps because previous to the government provided system of education, existing schools were largely church run.
By this time the Board of General Education had introduced a system known as the ‘Provisional School’:
In 1869 the Board provided provisional schools. These represented one of the earliest efforts to tackle a perennial problem of Queensland education – how to provide basic education to a scattered population with a limited education budget. Because they could be opened with as few as 15 children (reduced later to 12), provisional schools were a means of providing education in areas where the expense of a full State school was unjustified, or where the local people were unable to raise the necessary contributions towards a State school. The local people were responsible for providing a suitable building, and provisional school buildings were often of a very low standard. Moreover, teachers’ salaries were low, and their standards of training correspondingly poor. As their name implies, provisional schools were intended as a temporary expedient which would eventually be replaced by standard State schools. Sometimes, when a locality prospered into a large, stable settlement, this happened; often, however, the provisional school withered away as population shifted, the gold played out or the railway moved further west.
Source: The Board of General Education 1860 – 1875, Queensland Government, Department of Education, Training and Employment Library Services, http://education.qld.gov.au/library/edhistory/state/brief/primary-1860.html, viewed 22 January 2014.
This meant that there were a couple of pre-requisites before a small rural community were able to receive Government assistance to create a school. There needed to be a minimum number of children requiring instruction and a motivated, generous community who were enthusiastic and persistent in providing the best environment possible for a teacher to work and gain results for their pupils.
1869 – Provisional schools were introduced. The parents provided the building and often found the teacher. The Department paid the teacher’s salary.
Source: A chronology of education in Queensland: 1851 – 1875, Queensland Government, Department of Education, Training and Employment Library Services, http://education.qld.gov.au/library/edhistory/state/chronology/1851.html, viewed 22 January 2014.
On the 20th April 1874, representatives of some of the prominent settlers in the area held a public meeting in North Pine with a mind to meeting this need, considering the advisability of taking immediate steps to form a provisional school at North Pine River.
However there was uniqueness about this river community, it existed on both banks of the Pine River. With no bridge (only a ford) this posed a problem as crossing the river was very dangerous, particularly when there was a high tide or flooding. Therefore if one side of the bank was chosen for the schoolhouse, children living on the opposite bank would be at high risk daily.
The solution proposed was to create a ‘half-time’ system where the school effectively split to meet the needs of the children and the teacher would spend half the day at one school on the south bank, then cross the river to the north for the afternoon session. The Department granted permission for the idea to proceed; this was the first and only school of its kind and was openly considered an experiment.