By Heather Wade, 2017
At the State Records Office of WA there are two periods of correspondence for the establishment of an Assisted School at Myalup – in 1919 when Ernest Manning tried to establish a school and failed, and again in 1929 when his labours were successful, but only for a brief period. The ongoing correspondence reveals the difficulties experienced by the Mannings in getting a school established at Myalup and the frustrations they experienced in attracting teachers to the area.
Ernest J Manning from ‘Mylup’ [sic Myalup], Coast Road via Australind, South West, WA wrote to the Minister for Education on 12 May 1919 asking if a school could be established in the locality. He understood that if eight children of school age were available to attend, the Department would allot a teacher and form a school. He explained that there were the required number of children within a 2½ mile radius of his farm and that they would assist the Department in every possible way in their power, such as allocating a block of land for the school site and boarding the teacher, etc. The children were too far away from the existing school, Parkfield, which was six miles away. One child currently at Parkfield would attend the proposed school while the rest of the children in the area were receiving no schooling whatever. He had read of the postal teaching system and thought it very good indeed for isolated positions but would prefer to have a school, as parents were unable to spare the time that would be required to coach the children.
The Education Department sent an application form for the establishment of a school in the district to Manning on 20 May. On an enclosed lithograph the Department required the blocks to be shown where the parents resided and the most suitable place for a school. The Department followed up on 14 July and asked if anything had been done in regard to completing the form. Manning explained on 24 July that he had been confined to bed for the past four weeks due to a motor accident. He had now completed the form and map for the proposed school.
The lithograph showing Manning’s house and proposed school site.
He proposed that the school be situated at ‘Mylup’ 15 chains from the homestead, adjoining the road leading to Harvey township, 12 miles distant.
The old Long Swamp School was about four miles distant but it was closed and Parkfield was the nearest, six miles distant.
There were five boys (one aged 4½ at present but would be eligible for school) and three girls. There was no building available for a school and the applicant was quite willing to undertake the sanitary service at a nominal cost.
Manning enclosed a plan of the proposed site and said that whatever size block was required, within reason, would be made available.
Sketch of proposed school at Myalup by Ernest Manning
The names of the parents and children requiring schooling were:
Ernest J Manning, (Congregational) of ‘Mylup’ was 6 miles from the existing school, would be 15 chains from the proposed school and had two boys – Ernest David 6 and Bertram Joseph 4½.
Hannah Jones (C of E) of ‘Kendalup’ was 8 miles away from the existing school, would be 2 miles from the proposed school and had two girls – Elsie 13 and Doris 10.
WE Reading (C of E) of ‘Runnymede’ was … miles from the existing school, 2½ from the proposed one, and had three children – Albert W 11, George 8 and Bertha F aged 6.
Bessie Moyle (C of E) of Lake Preston was 4 miles from the existing school and 2 miles from the proposed school with one child – Frederick T Moyle.
The Department asked Manning on 26 August if anything further had been done to establish a school and Manning replied that no one was willing to take up teaching hereabouts. There were younger children who would need schooling but the Department had not said how many pupils were warranted to establish a school. He was sorry that he had not been able to comply with the Regulations and made the comment that ‘it seemed hard for the back block pioneer to have to grow up without education’.
Manning was told by the Department that a building for a full-time government school could only be provided when there was a reasonable prospect of an average attendance of not fewer than 10 children between the ages of 6 and 14. However, as an average attendance of 10 could not be maintained, a full-time Government School might be established in any locality where there was a reasonable prospect of an average attendance of eight children, provided that a suitable room was available and that there was no government school within five miles. The furniture and the apparatus would be provided by the Department. As the parents could not take advantage of the Regulations relating to the Assisted Schools they might be willing for their children to be educated by the correspondence system. The necessary form was enclosed.
There is no further information in the file associated with the 1919 request.
Mrs Manning wrote to the Assisted Teachers’ Branch of the Education Department on 22 October 1929. She stated that some time ago her children were on correspondence lessons but the teaching become too much for her so she informed Mr Eakins that she would have to get a teacher. Mr Eakins consulted with the Department on her behalf and was given the names of two teachers whom he considered would be suitable for them – Miss A Lloyd of Samson Road, Bunbury and Miss Blechynden of Bridgetown. Although Miss Lloyd seemed the most suitable at the time she was unable to go to the Mannings because her brother had had a serious accident. However, they had kept in touch and Mrs Manning had engaged Miss Lloyd who commenced teaching yesterday. The Mannings had agreed to pay Miss Lloyd a salary of £72 per annum plus board. As Miss Lloyd had previously taught at Assisted Schools she understood the rules and regulations.
Miss Alys Lloyd wrote to the Department on 21 October informing them that she had opened the Assisted School that day with an enrolment of the three Manning children. She asked for the necessary books and forms and said that Mrs Manning would collect them from the Bunbury station. Miss Lloyd also required a blackboard, maps and Teacher’s Book. She didn’t require any furniture as Mrs Manning had furnished the school room with tables and chairs. The children were in second, third and fourth class and a boy who was able to attend intermittently was in sixth class. She also asked the Department for writing paper, envelopes and stamps.
Miss Lloyd received a letter on 28 October explaining that due process had not been followed by the Mannings and without forms being filled in, approval by the Department would not be granted. Ernest Manning duly filled in the forms and on 31 October signed a document agreeing that if the attendance fell below eight pupils he would supplement the Education Department grant of £12 per head per annum by such an amount as to give the teacher a salary of at least £4/10/0 per month clear above board and lodgings.
On the form, Manning applied for a full-time Assisted School at ‘Mylup’, Coast Road via Bunbury. The position of the school was within 100 yards of the homestead. Harvey railway station was 12 miles distant, Bunbury 19 and either could be accessed from ‘Mylup’. Harvey was the nearest school, 12 miles away. There were 3 boys living within a radius of three miles of the proposed school aged between 6 and 14. The school was already established in a substantial building with plenty of light and air, it was cool in summer and warm in winter, having a large fireplace. No rent was being asked. The teacher would be comfortably accommodated in a room in the homestead. The three Manning children were Keith Gordon 13, Iven Wymss 11 and Lindsay Stewart, aged 9.
On 19 November Miss Lloyd explained to the Department that she was under the impression that Mr Manning had the Department’s permission to start the school at ‘Mylup’. She asked for the necessary forms, quarterly returns, salary sheets, application for stock forms, etc. She told the Department that if it was not possible for them to send the blackboard and maps before the Christmas Holidays she would be able to do without the blackboard by writing and drawing on the table. However, she asked the Department to have mail lodged in Bunbury on Monday as it left Bunbury early Tuesday morning for the once-a-week delivery. If it missed the mail on Monday she had to go another week without it, and it was another week again before she could respond.
Manning was advised on 28 November that the goods had been sent to Bunbury Station and he was asked to notify the Department when they had arrived.
Miss Lloyd wrote to the Department with clarification regarding the name of the school -‘Myalup Assisted School’, she had always thought that the place was called ‘Mylup’ but Mr Manning told her that it was registered as ‘Myalup’.
Mr Manning wrote to the Inspector of Schools on 28 April 1930 asking that he visit the school that week, as Miss Lloyd was tendering her resignation and wanted to have her work checked before leaving. She wanted to be relieved at the end of the week and Manning asked if another teacher could be supplied immediately or if they would have to wait until after the May school holidays. He went on to say that an elderly lady would suit them very well as the post was a rather lonely one and not suited to a young person – but they also wanted the person to be a Protestant and a strict teetotaller!
The Chief Inspector examined the school and found that Miss Lloyd had done very well indeed and that the children had made very efficient progress. He considered the teacher very well worth training if a vacancy could be found for her. She had a mother who was a soldier’s widow in very poor circumstances. The school was closed due to the teacher’s resignation on 2 May 1930 and did not reopen until 1 September 1930, with Miss D Hindle.
A letter was received by the Department on 19 Feb 1931 from Mr L Tully, 10 Mile, Mylup via Harvey. He stated that he had tried to find the school but had been unable to locate it. He had a wife and three children and was only drawing £3 per week and could not afford to move back nearer to a school. He said that there were already nine children in the area and his would make 12.
The Chief Inspector of Schools replied that day to Tully saying that there was an Assisted School, at Myalup [but didn’t say it was held at Manning’s home] and that the Head Teacher was Miss D Hindle. He was informed that if there were sufficient children in the district he should make an application for a Government School. Mr Tully still could not find the school and duly filled out the form dated 24 February 1931. He proposed that a school should be provided two miles from Myalup. The nearest railway station was Harvey 10 miles away and the best means of reaching the school was the Government runabout truck. He maintained that there was no school nearer than 10 miles and Harvey State School was 11 miles away. Five boys and two girls were living within a radius of the proposed school. There was a school that had been used some time ago and could be rented very cheaply. The parents could not undertake to pay the rent as they were all on relief work but the sanitary service would be done free. A farm two chains from the proposed school would provide good boarding accommodation and a separate room for the teacher would be provided.
The prospective families living at Myalup were 10 miles away from the nearest school and would be two miles from the proposed school. They were:
L Tully (Roman Catholic) who had Terence 8 and William 6.
K Mayes (C of E) who had Jack 8 and Alfred 6.
AM Bloxsidge (C of E) who had Eric 13, Muriel 12, Phyllis 10 and Stanley 7.
As of 4 March, Jack Mayes, Muriel, Phyllis and Stanley Bloxsidge were enrolled in the correspondence course. On 5 March, the Director wrote to Tully explaining that the children from the other two families were receiving education through correspondence and suggested he do the same, enclosing the necessary forms.
The Myalup School was closed on 15 May 1931. Mr Manning was not about to give up, however. Miss J Orams wrote to the Department saying that she had been appointed to ‘Myalup’ by Mr Manning and would commence on 3 June 1931. A letter to Mr Manning swiftly came from the Chief Inspector for Schools, saying that the Department could not recognise Miss Orams as a teacher at the school, but could recommend Miss Coral Bilston from Kojonup, Mrs Rose Cheney from Group 25 Manjimup or Miss Mary Hocking of Minnivale as teachers. The Inspector went on to say that Jessie Orams was unsuitable for the posting as she had very slender academic qualifications, that she had no certificate of having passed any examinations, that she had taken the intermediate high school course and sat for the Junior public examination but failed. When it was very difficult to find teachers for Assisted Schools Miss Orams was fortunate enough to obtain recognition from the Department, but now there was a number of better qualified applicants available.
The Inspector continued, ‘Miss Orams statement to you that she had six years’ experience in Government assisted schools is false. She certainly has conducted assisted schools since 1925 and in that period been in six different places. Unfortunately however she seems to be unable to hold a position for a longer period than three months and in the last school, where she stayed only one month her employer was most dissatisfied with her. The fact that she has been tried so often and unable to keep any position for more than a couple of months has caused the Department to refuse recognition in future and to suggest to you that you find a better teacher for your assisted school.
From the foregoing you will see that what I have done has been purely in the interests of your children. I am still awaiting information as to whom you have engaged.’
Mary J Hocking wrote to the Chief Inspector on 22 June 1931 and said that she had received an offer from the Mannings, but the salary started at £36 per annum which was less that a monitor’s salary. She wanted to know if she would have to pay her way from Minnivale to Bunbury and whether £36 per annum was the usual salary for an Assisted School. The Inspector replied promptly on 24 June that under Regulation 4, the parents guaranteed to supplement the grant from the Department so that the teacher would receive £54 per annum over, after paying all charges for board and lodging and that he had forwarded a letter of explanation to Mr Manning. Mr Manning replied on 30 June that he was anticipating the current reduction in salaries when quoting £36 per annum to Mrs Mary Hocking of Wyalcatchem, however, they did not want a married woman and they were under the impression that Hocking was a young girl. Manning again reiterated that mails were delivered once a week and it took a long time to write to and fro.
He asked the Inspector to send along one of the girls he had recommended, either Miss Louie Hitchin or Miss Coral Bilston, at the minimum salary of £54. Miss Hitchin had answered their advertisement and was satisfactory to them, so they preferred her. He requested that she should be asked to immediately take up the position. Manning voiced his disappointment that their school was closed for so long, which meant that Mrs Manning was having to coach the children herself and as a consequence, it took too much of her time from her other duties.
The Inspector informed Manning on 3 July that the Department did not appoint or ‘send along’ teachers for Assisted Schools but if he did appoint Miss Hitchin the Department was prepared to appoint her Head Teacher and pay the grant under Regulation 4. Miss Louise M Hitchin opened the school on 13 July 1931 but only lasted six months. She did not give a reason for resigning but wanted the opportunity to be reappointed if circumstances suited her. Manning asked the Department for the names of other unmarried teachers and the Department obliged.
On 18 January 1932 Manning explained to the Department that he had communicated with Miss Delys Wilson of Collie through her parents, as she was on holiday in the Eastern States. Her parents accepted another offer on her behalf and so he was again asking for names of suitable teachers. They would like a lady a little older with more experience as ‘our own boys are getting up and need higher experience over here.’
On 25 January the Department replied with the names of three women. Miss E Johnston opened the school on 3 February but it closed again on 30 June for the last time.
Manning was informed on 7 March 1933 that it appeared there was no prospect of the school reopening in the near future. The winding up process began, with Manning packing and carting stock to the Bunbury School and the Head Teacher of that school making an inventory on the appropriate form and returning it to the Chief Inspector of Schools.
 State Records Office of Western Australia, Item 1929/2070, Cons. 1497.
 State Records Office of Western Australia, Item 1929/2070, Cons. 1497.