The history of Valley education
Hundreds of long-gone schools remembered in our past
WHEN your parents relay stories of how they got to school as a child, they often involve walking through snow or travelling kilometre after kilometre.
But even before then, before cars and buses, children in the Clarence Valley were making their way to school on foot or by horseback, hardly ever wearing shoes.
When you consider the lack of transport available in the early stages of government schools in NSW in the 19th and 20th centuries, it begins to make sense why there were hundreds of schools in the Clarence Valley in places you’d never think they’d be
From Lavadia, where the new jail will be built, to Strontian Park on the Great Marlow Rd and the former gold mining settlement of Solferino, there was a need for schools in many places across the Clarence Valley.
With so many schools operating in such small towns, a lot of them were half-time with other schools, meaning children often didn’t get a full education.
The government school system began in NSW in 1848, but it wasn’t until 1880 that mandatory attendance was introduced. Children between six and 14 years were required to attend no less than 70 days in half a year.
However, there were exceptions for students who lived more than two miles from the nearest school, was under regular instruction, incapacitated through sickness or other unavoidable causes, or was already educated to the required standard.
The last school to close in the Clarence Valley was Woodford Dale in 2012. COALDALE (COALCROFT)
The first school in Coaldale was on Lankey Creek Rd, before the progress association president, Mr Casson, wrote to the district inspector and said the 21 children attending the school did not have enough room to sit, and the school was likely to fall down.
Mr Roley Smith donated the land for the new school on “Bellona” and it was built on the corner of Lankey Creek Rd.
The school’s name was changed to Coalcroft after a teacher who was supposed to go to Coaldale, near Wollongong, turned up accidentally. FERN GLEN (STOCKYARD CRK)
In 1882, a temporary school was opened with 40 children. Operating until 1935, it was a half-time school, sharing the teacher with other schools in the area like Gorum Borum and Upper Smiths Creek.
A new school was built in 1919 and used until 1935. JACKADGERY
The first school at Jackadgery was held in Reeves barn, with the provisional school opening on October 10, 1913.
In 2004 it was reported the building still stood but no longer used as a classroom.
The school was half-time with Heifer Station until 1940 when it closed and Jackadgery became a fulltime school. When the Gwydir Hwy was constructed, enrolments rose and in 1948 a larger classroom built.
Eatonsville School, 1919.
St Dominic's, Harwood, 1947-48.
Trenayr School, date unknown.