Ballina & Richmond River GenWeb
Broadwater Public School
It is well that we celebrate 'Important landmarks in the development of our schools and the community so that we may evaluate the past; but probably a greater value lies in the stimulus given to us to ponder the future. So, this year 1959, the citizens of Broadwater, in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of a school, will be looking back down the years that have passed and trying to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead. While we look back with pride on the developments and achievements of the past, we should also look to the future, which holds such promise for the pupils of today.
In this era of compulsory and universal education we are still ourselves learning how to do the best for each child, and how to lead him to do the best for himself.
The school’s 75th anniversary is an ideal time for unearthing its history, reviewing its achievements, for making an educational stocktaking of what has been done, and its aims-for the future.
the years the school has aimed:
Evidence of the influence the school has had is reflected in the attitudes and community life of three generations of former pupils. To equip its present and future pupils the school must aim to provide a sympathetic understanding of the needs, happiness in their work and play, and create every opportunity for learning for each and every child in attendance: to exert a wholesome influence on the ideals, conduct, and the ambitions of its pupils; to continue to foster the goodwill of parents and other members of the community so that the best interests of its children can be served; and to keep abreast of educational thought and development so that the school of tomorrow will be better than the school of yesterday.
The girls and boys who attended the first classes at Broadwater Public School just 75 years ago would surely be amazed if they could sit beside the pupils enrolled at the school today. Courses of study, classroom furniture, methods of teaching would be quite different from what they knew; but although many alterations have been made, much still remains to recall memories of school days.
The first application for a Public School to be established in Broadwater was made in 1881, the year following the passing of the Public Instruction Act. Approval for its establishment was officially given on 26h August, 1881, and the appointment of the first teacher, Mr. Imlay McLaren, who had been in charge of the school at Coraki, was made on the 28th October of the same year. The school opened in the Union Church building, a shingle roofed structure, situated in the centre of the town. Walking alone bush tracks and wading unbridged creeks, the original pupils began their first “book-learning” under the headmastership of Mr. McLaren, still affectionately remembered by many of these pupils for his huge stature and monstrous beard.
A site for a school was acquired from Mr. H. J. Cook in 1882, but was later sold, and another area resumed from Mr. D. Byrne. With the addition of a small additional area in 1887, also from Mr. Byrne, this constitutes the present school site. Although some distance from the centre of the town this chosen site reflects the wisdom of those responsible for its selection. It is some of the highest land in the locality, and, although the area is subject to flooding, floodwaters have only entered the school building once (in 1954). The school is also undisturbed by the distractions, noise, and industrial atmosphere associated with a large crushing mill.
During the first few years the attendance rose rapidly and by 1884 there were 94 children enrolled at the school. This reflects the rapid growth of the town following. the establishment of the Colonial Sugar Company's Mill in 1881. Tenders were called for the erection of a school building and the work was undertaken by Mr. J. Byrne, a local builder and contractor of those days. Timber for the school was cut at Carter's Mill at Wardell (then known as Blackall), transported to Broadwater by pulling boat - the only practical means of transport 75 years ago. The building was completed in 1885, and with the addition of a weather shed the following year the total cost of all this construction work appears to have been £1,170, a large amount of money for those days. Many renovations and alterations have been made but it speaks well for the quality of workmanship and materials that much of the original building is still in sound condition. The school then consisted of one classroom, a verandah and two porches, with the floor of the classroom rising in several tiers. It was furnished with long cedar desks and forms and teacher's table and chairs. The school's age can be detected by its exterior architectural design.
By 1890 the attendance had risen to 144 and the original classroom was enlarged and partitioned and an extra classroom added to provide the necessary accommodation. In 1957 further interior alterations were made to provide a headmaster's office, a store room and staff room.
The floors are now on one level, sanded and polished, long cedar forms have given way to postural furniture and dual desks. Attractive modern colours, curtained windows, pleasing pictures, lawns and gardens create a pleasant atmosphere in contrast to the environment of former years. A large level playing area, with many shade trees, a sand pit, asphalt assembly area, shelter shed, luncheon tables, outdoor seats, electricity and a water supply provide amenities for present day pupils at work and play. These changes are part of the progress made by modern education, and are an example of local community effort and Department of Education co-operation to provide a more suitable environment.
Since its foundation in 1909 by Mr. Ernest Clarke as headmaster, and Mr. George Somerville as the first secretary, the Parents and Citizens' Association has continued to function for many reasons. Its members believe in the co-operation of parent and teacher to work for the benefit of the school pupils, and to provide extra necessary amenities and equipment. With this aim in view library books, a piano, a duplicator, projector, curtains and pictures have been placed in the school. Social functions for Empire Day and Christmas are arranged annually by the association and give school pupils an opportunity of sharing functions with adults. These functions have become a tradition in the community life of Broadwater and encourage a mutual feeling of goodwill.
To suitably celebrate the occasion of the 75th anniversary the association has organised a reunion of ex-students at a luncheon and a gathering at the school. It is hoped that this will be an opportunity to renew and cement the friendships of childhood years and for the scholars of yesterday to meet the pupils of today. As a tangible memento of the celebration it is planned to assist in the establishment of a children’s playground in the town, and the planting of a grove of trees at the school.
HEADMASTERS OF BROADWATER SCHOOL
McLaren 1881 Robert Shields (Feb.) 1916
Source: the publication STATUS QUO MCMLIX; presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.