By Maidee Smith
A letter was sent to the Education Department on 1 March 1932 suggesting the formation of a school, the children in the area mostly being on correspondence lessons. The families who would use the school were Cruikshank – 3 children, Stanley – 2 children, Proctor – 2 children, England – 1 child, Harding – 3 children, and possibly four more who would attend. The Department was not very helpful and replied that the children should continue with their correspondence lessons.
Another letter was sent by Mr Thomas Stanley on 18 April 1932 saying the parents had considered setting up an assisted school, but explaining that financially things were bad and they could not guarantee paying the fee required. The Education Department again insisted that a school in the area could not be justified, as the Brunswick School was only three miles away. The only farm further than this was Proctors’, which was five miles from the school.
Mr Stanley tried again in June 1932, telling the Department that he would offer any site on the Wellesley River frontage of Block 14 for a school, while Mrs Harding could offer a separate bedroom and board for a teacher. There were two boys and six girls needing schooling. These were – Mabel Harding’s child Norma, aged 6½; TB Stanley’s daughter Rosalind (9½) and son Bernard (6); E Cruikshank’s children Jennet aged 9½, Betty (8) and Mignon (6). The religion of all the children was recorded as Church of England.
Only an assisted school could be provided, so finally the parents agreed to this, with the teacher to be paid £54 per annum clear, above board and lodgings, with a grant from the Government of £12 per annum. The parents had to meet the rest of the costs.
A camp of road workers had been established nearby and in June 1932 three of these children wanted to join in with the Stanley children for schooling. Mr Stanley had previously had some correspondence with May Holman, the politician, and wrote to thank her for her help in the matter. He wrote again, asking if she could recommend a suitable teacher and to assure anyone she did send that they would find a good home on their arrival.
By July 1932 it was all organised for the school to begin. The furniture and stock had been sent from Perth to Brunswick and the teacher Mr Struthers had been engaged. By this time a further pupil had asked for admittance. This was Harold, the son of the Gardiner family who worked at the State Farm. Harold had been suffering from a leg injury which had kept him from school for 10 months, and the Ghezireh school would be close enough for him to attend, as he could not walk in to Brunswick. Before Harold was admitted the Department notified his parents that a medical certificate on the condition of his leg would be required. This was obtained.
The schoolroom was in the Stanley’s small home in a room set up for it, and started with nine children on the roll – three of them the Tomas children from the road camp.
[The late Bernard ‘Bernie’ Stanley records in his memoirs that the property was named ‘Ghezireh’, after the island near Cairo where his father Thomas had spent some time during his military service during WW1. Bernie stated that his mother agreed to give up their only lined room for a schoolroom because of the poor condition of Wellesley Road which led into town. It was only a track and the Government workers employed to dig a deep drain nearby had made its condition worse by spreading yellow clay onto the road to build it up, thus making it impassable in winter.
Bernie describes the difficulties experienced by these ‘sustenance families’, who lived nearby in tents along the boundary of the Stanley property, with the men only allocated up to three days’ paid work a week. He states that altogether 17 children attended the school in 1932. These included John England, 10 years, Marjorie Proctor, 9 years, Arthur Proctor, 8 years, Jeanette [sic] Cruikshank, 6 years, Harold Gardiner, 9 years, Rosalind Stanley, 9 years, and Bernard Stanley, 6 years.]
However by the beginning of 1933 it was obvious that there was not enough support for the school to continue, and it was closed temporarily on 13 January. On 20 January 1933 the Department wrote saying, ‘if the school is not to re-open, please transfer furniture and stock to Brunswick for use elsewhere’. Mr Stanley tried very hard to get the support of the other parents, but finally had to write to the Department saying the school would have to close. (Note: In his letter to the Department dated 7 January 1933 Thomas Stanley indicated that he anticipated taking his two children to school in Brunswick, since he had arranged to deliver his milk to the depot there, though he doubted whether the inconvenience really warranted it.
So the school was officially closed from 31 December 1932; the goods and furniture were packed up and taken to Brunswick in April of 1933. These were then sent to the new school which was opening in North Boyanup. So once again the pattern was repeated, of small country schools closing and another opening elsewhere, to bring education to the isolated farm children of that time.
Bernard Stanley, Early Years of Brunswick, 1999, p.5