Lake Macquarie History

Shared Stories: Going to School

Going to School - Charlestown Public School

The Public Instruction Act was introduced in 1880. The Act made school attendance compulsory for the first time. Children between the ages of 6 and 14 had to attend 70 days of schooling every half year. School enrolments jumped 25% in 1880.

The Act created a shared Australian experience: going to school through most of childhood.

The school attendance rate now sits at about 93% nationally.

Early Charlestown grew up around the Waratah Coal Company workings.

By 1879 there were 52 school aged children in the township needing an education. Coal company land had been earmarked for a school since 1875. In March 1879 the school opened in a rented room. Pupils moved into a new Charlestown School building on October 1879 on what is now the corner of Pacific Highway and Frederick Street.

New South Wales needed a centralised education system controlled by a government department owing to the huge increase in schools around this time. The Act also created the

Department of Public Instruction to meet this need.

Maypole Charlestown Public School Picnic 9.11.97
Ralph Snowball
Lake Macquarie City Council Local Studies Collection
Unknown donor

Acknowledgement of Country

We remember and respect the Ancestors who cared for and nurtured this Country. It is in their footsteps that we travel these lands and waters. Lake Macquarie City Council acknowledges the Awabakal people and Elders past, present and future.

Council acknowledges traditional custodians throughout Australia. We commit to listening deeply to and collaborating with First Peoples in our work.

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