School Histories

Sparsely Populated District (SPD) Schools.



The reasons for and Department Regulations pertaining to the Sparsely Populated District (SPD) Schools were explained in the ‘West Australian’ by Mr JP Walton, Acting Inspector-General of Schools, in May 1911 following a conference of Districts Boards of Education.

Sparsely Populated Districts. The most difficult task of the Education Department is to provide educational facilities in new agricultural districts where the population is very scattered. It is, of course, obvious that a highly-salaried teacher could not be employed by the department to instruct some half a dozen children in out-of-the-way places without adding unduly to the expense of education. The department, however, always endeavours to secure the services of a teacher whose accomplishments are sufficient to enable them at least to educate the children up to the prescribed standards. There is, however, a scarcity of teachers of this particular class, and in cases where they are not on the department’s list of available teachers, parents at any place where no school exists are asked to themselves make efforts to secure the services of suitable instructors. When this is done and the teacher so selected is approved of, the department contributes at the rate of £6 (or on the goldfields £7 10s.) per annum for each child in average attendance, on condition that the parents concerned supplement such grant by an amount which will give the teacher a salary of at least £60 (or on the goldfields £75) per annum.

This provision, which it is claimed is the most liberal to be found in any of the States, enables parents even at places where there are only two or three children of school-going age to see that they receive proper instruction. At any place where an average attendance of 10 children can be obtained the department establishes a school and pays the whole cost. All these schools whether established as provisional or sparsely-peopled district schools, are under the supervision of the department’s inspectors and must conform to the regulations, and so far as school requisites are concerned they are treated in exactly the same way as any other State school.

In addition, in cases where parents are unable to avail themselves of the facilities mentioned the department provides a grant towards the cost of conveying the children to and from the nearest existing school. This grant is at the rate of 6d. per day for each child, but it is only given when the children reside beyond the radius of the compulsory area, which in the case of children between the ages of 9 and 14 years is three miles and for those between the ages of 6 and 9 years two miles. This grant is largely availed of in the country districts, and at present the department is expending no less than £1,400 per annum in, this direction.

(West Australian, 6 May 1911.)