|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment of the Board
The Board of Education was established in 1862 under the provisions of An Act for the better Maintenance and Establishment of Common Schools in Victoria 25 Vic.,No.149. This Act repealed An Act to incorporate the Board of Commissioners for National Education which had established the National School Board (VA 919) and all property previously vested in that Board was vested in the Board of Education. The Denominational School Board was dissolved, land and school buildings were to continue to be vested in the trustees who were also empowered to transfer them to the Board of Education or sell them and apply the proceeds to educational purposes. The personal property of the Denominational School Board was to be vested in the Board of Education.
Composition of the Board
The Governor-in-Council was empowered to appoint five laymen as Commissioners provided that no two members of the Board were to belong to the same religious denomination.
Functions of the Board
The Board was responsible for the distribution of funds, for determining where schools should be established, the inspection of schools, the examination and classification of teachers, the determination of a course of secular study to be adopted in schools and the setting of school fees. The Board was also responsible for the appointment of staff and for ensuring that funds allocated were properly used.
The Act provided for the appointment of an Inspector-General; established a minimum number of pupils for the granting of aid; regulated the establishment of new schools; provided for a minimum of four hours secular instruction each day, prohibited exclusion of pupils or grounds of religious persuasion and provided for the education of destitute children. The Act also provided for the appointment of local committees which were to be responsible to the Board.
Cessation of the Board of Education: the Education Act 1872 and the establishment of the Education Department (VA 714)
Victoria was the first of the colonies to introduce free, compulsory and secular education with the passing of the Education Act 1872 (No.447). School attendance increased by approximately fifty percent as soon as education became free and compulsory.
The Education Act was born out of dissatisfaction with the form and content of education as well as the controversy over religion and education. The Higginbotham Royal Commission in September, 1866 recommended, inter alia, that a Minister of Public Instruction, responsible to Parliament, have a general superintendence over education in Victoria. Higginbotham introduced a Bill, based on his suggestions, to Parliament in May, 1867 but it received only a luke-warm response.
In 1869 the Eighth Report of the Board of Education stated that the Board was in favour of compulsory education. By 1870 only two thirds of the population of Victoria aged between five and fifteen attended school. In August, 1870 the Education Act (British) was passed and set up elementary schools in England although attendance there was not compulsory.
In December, 1871 a Bill was introduced into Parliament by Sir James McCulloch for compulsory, though not free, education. This Bill proposed the abolition of aid to denominational schools. The Government collapsed in June 1872. In September, 1872 the Attorney-General in the Francis Ministry, J.W. Stephen, introduced an Education Bill. It was passed in December, 1872 and came into force on 1 January, 1873. This Act abolished the Board of Education and established a Department of Education under a Minister of Public Instruction. The Department of Education controlled all aspects of State primary education. At the same time church authorities responsible for the then existing Church Schools were permitted to, and did retain, an independent system, although State aid to these schools ceased in January, 1874.
Location of Records
See List of Holdings 1985, section 3.8.1 and list below.