STATUS QUO MCMLIX
This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.
MACLEAN INTERMEDIATE HIGH SCHOOL
"The Big River" … "Rocky Mouth" … these were names that began with the cedar cutters of early Australian history. And almost at the same time education was introduced to the area. Just as the river and the town have changed their names to Clarence and Maclean so has education changed from private to public. As the settlements along the river banks have grown, so has education. Education and the community have grown and progressed - side by side at the beginning, but hand-in-hand and as a unit as time has passed. Today, in Maclean, the school is an integral part of the community.
Prior to 1867, education was of a private nature. Many tutors were employed, the first being Miss Sproule who was brought to the district by Mr James McLachlan.
The next move in this growth of education was the establishment of a "non-vested" school on August 14, 1865, with an enrolment of 19. A school committee was formed and after representations to the Council of Education it was agreed that a school "with ownership vested in the Council" should be erected. This was at a cost of 98 pounds - 78 pounds of which was subscribed by residents. The building was erected on the river bank and was opened about May 1867. Mr F French was the first headmaster, Mrs Harris the sewing mistress and Mr McIntyre the Inspector.
In the 1870s Mr French was transferred to Wombah and was succeeded by Mr R Deeves. The enrolment at this time was 52. Empire Day was THE day of the year. The Colonial Sugar Company provided a boat to take pupils and parents to Yamba where each and every one had a right royal time picnicking on the hill and flats.
The growth of the school can be judged by the fact that in 1873 a new building to accommodate 56 was erected. Additions were made in 1876, 1881, 1884 and 1886. In 1886 there was an enrolment of 212.
It is interesting to note that when the new school was built in 1901, the 1873 building was transferred to the Lower Clarence Agricultural Society's grounds as the Fine Arts Pavilion.
All this time Mrs Harris had continued as sewing mistress. However, with the advent of a new headmaster, Mr C Willis, in 1890, Mrs Harris was relieved of her duties by the head's bride. Assistants were Mr H Mutton, Mrs J Gregor and Mr R McLucas.
Mr Willis, who was a fine cricketer, a good churchman and in word and deed a great leader of his children, was followed by Mr F Nichol, a stern disciplinarian and fine gentleman. Courtesy and good manners, honesty and truthfulness were a fetish with this man and woe betide the youth who forgot it.
Mr Nichol was succeeded by Mr Henry, a quiet, dignified and unassuming teacher (Mr Henry's brother, also a teacher, married Sir Earle Page's sister).
It was about this time that the site of the present school was purchased from Samuel Macnaughton for 800 pounds. Macnaughton had conducted his stud stables on this site.
With the new site came a new headmaster, Mr R Gall, a new school and a new residence, the present one in High Street.
Mr Gall stayed by far the longest of any headmaster before or since. That he left a wonderful impression upon his scholars cannot be denied as his name is revered to this day. A wonderful organiser of school concerts, a man of fine taste and keen discrimination, it is said that his "biggest dunces" could always take their places in the world - the greatest tribute that can be paid to any teacher.
During World War I Mr Gall left Maclean and was followed by Mr A Knight, MA, whose stay was short. Mr Knight's son Rex later became Professor of Philosophy at Aberdeen University.
Mr J "Banjo" Paterson was the next head. It was during his time that the area below the present Infants' building became noted for the fights that were staged there. "Mike" Irons and Frank Apps are said to have been consistent contestants.
"Banjo's" high sens eof duty, his diligence and culture left an indelible mark upon his pupils. Just before he left, about 1923, the rpesent Kindergarten was built at a cost of 734 pounds. Repairs and alterations in 1926 cost another 758 pounds.
Between 1923 and 1928 Mr W Martin and Mr J Hanney left indelible impressions on the community.
In July, 1928, the school became a District Rural School with further additions.
It was at this stage that Maclean's own J B Walsh was exerting such a fine influence on the youth of the district.
If Mr Gall stayed the longest of any headmaster, "JB" must surely hold the "record" for assistants. Having been appointed to the school round about 1920, Mr Walsh continued on the staff until his retirement in 1949. Probably the first real mark the young teacher made was when he constructed a concrete model of Australia in the playground in 1922. This model was used for over thirty years and was finally removed only because of the extreme lack of playing space.
Mr Walsh was also responsible for the erection in the playground of a memorial to "The Pioneers". This was unveiled in 1934 in the presence of at least one scholar of 1867, Mr Duncan Maclachlan. But it was in 1937 that Mr Walsh was able to realise his long-cherished dream - the formation of the Maclean District Rural School Rowing Club. Their first boat, "Queen Mary", was built entirely by the boys under his supervision in the Manual Training Room.
During his time at the school Mr Walsh saw Messrs Martin and Hanney come and go, then welcomed and farewelled such headmasters as Messrs C Walker, J T Mallett, H Hunt and W A Bloomfield up to 1942.
In 1942 the District Rural School had an enrolment of 350 pupils with a staff of 12 teachers, proving secondary education for the whole of the Lower Clarence - Chatsworth, Harwood, Gulmarrad, Lawrence, Lower Clarence, Palmers Island, Palmers Channel, South Arm, Tyndale, Wombah, Woodford Leigh and Yamba.
This, indeed, bears testimony to the keen desire of the parents to educate their children and to the evergrowing importance of the Maclean School to the Lower Clarence.
But, as the first 67 years of Public Education in Maclean had made vast changes, the next 17 years were to show a quickening in the growth, a strengthening of the bonds binding the school to the community.
Mr Bloomfield, now an Inspector of Schools in the Metropolitan Area, was succeeded by Mr Finlayson whose stay was short. Mr Len Kelsey was the next headmaster. During his somewhat longer stay of five or six years, separate Secondary and Primary Departments were established. Mr Porter was the first Primary master and he was succeeded by Mr Young. In 1951 the status of the school was raised to Intermediate High and a Foreign Language introduced. Mr Kelsey was transferred to the charge of Tenterfield Intermediate High at the end of 1951.
In 1952, the present headmaster, Mr L P Mitchell, BA, was appointed, and Mr D B Capp, a prominent teacher of Mr Kelsey's Secondary staff was appointed Master of the Primary Department. The period from 1952 has been notable for the post-war increase in numbers. The attendance in 1952 was 426 against the present enrolment of 598. The most conspicuous feature has been the increase in post-Intermediate enrolment. In 1952 three people sat for the Leaving Certificate, and parents were, in general, contented to withdraw their children from school after the Intermediate Certificate. The present post-Inter enrolment of 38, with 18 Leaving Certificate candidates is significant of the school's growth and the district outlook. In the last three years 30 pupils have gained Leaving Certificates and some very fine passes have been obtained. After a period of rapid growth and bulging walls, the effort of an active P and C supported by wide community interest, has brought the promise of a new modern High School to be built on the Agriculture Plot site - a truly beautiful site with glorious river views, extensive playing fields and adjacent to what must be claimed as one of the finest agricultural school plots on the North Coast. This will give the new High School a uniqueness of character and will a centre of which the district can be justly proud.
The Primary School buildings, since the establishment of separate departments, have been army units, purchased after the Second World War. These have been given increased ventilation over the years but it will be a happy day for primary students and teachers when the present Secondary department again becomes their school with its ample buildings. Mr Stan Bull has recently taken up duties as Primary master, Mr Capp having been transferred to Lynham, ACT.
Some further mention might be made of the school agricultural plot, as agriculture has been a feature of the school's curriculum for many years. The first plot was situated in the school grounds where the present needlework room was constructed three years ago. Later an area behind the Clarence Hotel, in what is now Howard Street, was used until the Department acquired the present site of 15 acres on the river. A very fine plot has been developed through keenly interested teachers. Considerable income is derived from hybrid maize seed crops and vegetable crops. Experimental work has been carried out with grasses, sugar cane and contour ploughing. An irrigation system was set up last year. Many senior students have followed careers in agriculture at Armidale University and Teachers' College.
As a final note, when educational advancement is flourishing in this district, it is fitting that we pay homage to the grand educationalists and far-seeing citizens of the Lower Clarence River. Ranking high amongst these is Mr J B Walsh, now 74 years of age and still keenly active in the school's welfare. He retired from the staff in 1949 and has since played a wonderful role as rowing master. The prowess of Maclean School's rowers is well known and Mr Walsh must be acclaimed the greatest all-time coach in skiffs and butcher boats. He is now planning the construction of a new boat shed on the new High School site. Honour to all who have worked hard in the school and for the schools, and may Maclean continue to be educationally minded.
contains transcripts of newspapers, a postal directory and a register that have
been typed up from the original.