Victoria was the first colony to institute free, compulsory and secular schooling. But this was not achieved without argument, debate and conflict between Church leaders, politicians and colonial dissenters. By 1872 Jones’ Creek School had become one of the many secular schools in Victoria.
The first school at Jones’ Creek was at Secret Hill. Its structure was like many other school buildings on the goldfields. The roof was made of shingles and the internal walls were lined with boards up to a height of about four feet. The remainder of the walls was constructed of lathe and plaster, with a ceiling lined with calico. The outside walls were made of slabs.
William Harper was the first Head Teacher at Jones’ Creek School No. 339 the annual attendance being sixteen, eleven boys and five girls. The school was established by the Church of England on the 28th September, 1857.
At the end of that year Mr. Harper took charge of a school he had organised at Tarnagulla.
It is not clear what happened after Mr. Harper left the Jones’ Creek School. One source stated that in the winter of 1859 the School was closed. But by May, 1862 subscriptions were collected for repairs to the School.
By 1864 the School was operating under the care of Head Teacher, Mr. Samuel Heming with 38 children in attendance.
On the 10th December, 1867 a picnic and programme of events was organised by Messrs. Bragg and Page of the Jones’ Creek School Committee. The occasion was to mark the visit of H.R-H. The Duke of
The picnic was held at Jones’ Creek cricket ground. ‘The children were regaled with buns, tea and cake. Sports consisted of running, jumping, hurdle races and football.’ The school committee thanked G. Thomson Esq. and Mrs. Thomson for the children’s prizes, Mrs. Hackendare for ’the splendid currant cakes’ and Mrs. Corkingdale for ’the large quantity of currant buns’.
Mr. and Mrs. Mudge took over the positions of Head Teacher and Work Mistress after Samuel Heming resigned in 1870.
Mr. Mudge arranged a picnic for his pupils at the Recreation Reserve. Mr. Boan of the ’White Swan Hotel’ and Mr Burns, the Jones’ Creek Post Master, collected for the picnic.
The picnic, which was attended by 50 people, was held on Monday, 18th April, 1870. Buns, apples, grapes, lollies, plum cake and tea were given out. Visitors enjoyed sandwiches of beef tongue and fowl.
There were swings, and cricket was played. Prizes for the boys’ flat and hurdle race were ’money and two pretty pocket inkstands’, which were presented by Mr. Boan. ‘Money and two pretty brooches’ were the prizes for the girls’ races. The day ended with ‘dancing on the green to violin music provided by Mr. Green of Tarnagulla’.
The average attendance at Jones’ Creek School was 16 when Mr. and Mrs. Birrell took charge in January, 1871. The Birrells continued at Jones’ Creek No. 339, teaching in the inadequate premises rented from the church of England Trustees until 1877.
The 1871 School picnic was held at Thomas Leech’s paddock at Grassy Flat on the 17th March, with Mr. Birrell supervising the games.
The children who attended the picnic were given grapes by Mr. Leech.
The cricket ground was chosen as the venue for the 1872 picnic. Mr. Birrell marched his pupils to the picnic spot where, on their arrival, they were given fruit supplied by their parents.
Cricket and football were played and there were races. Lunch was served at the booth. In the afternoon adults danced to violin music and the children received fruit and lollies. Jones’ Creek School correspondent, Mr. Leech, congratulated the company on the spirit of cordiality and good feeling which had made the occasion enjoyable. The National Anthem concluded the proceedings.
Mr. Thomas Leech was elected to the School Board for the Tarnagulla Riding of the Bet-Bet Shire in June of 1872.
In December, 1873 the District Inspector of Schools was Mr. Bolam. He recommended the erection of a new school’as 339 Jones’ Creek was too small and not centrally situated’. Mr. Bolam recommended a site of 1.25 miles from the present school.
The inhabitants of Waanyarra supported Mr. Bolam and his request to the Board of Education.