Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood
From the very earliest days there have either been Government schools in Canterbury, or the Government has helped those in existence by yearly grants. Prior to 1863 the latter was the system in vogue. The Provincial Government voted a sum for educational purposes, which was divided among the Church of England, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic bodies, presumably on a population basis, and with just that small amount of satisfaction to the recipients that might be imagined. In those days denominationalism was in full swing. Outside the direct influence of the clergy of one sect or another scarcely a school existed in the district; not one can be said to have flourished.
In 1863 a new order of things was inaugurated, and the first District schools (purely Government schools) were established. At that time there were thirty-one denominational schools in Canterbury (all receiving State aid) and two district schools. Each succeeding year saw the number of district schools increase, while the denominational ones decreased, till in 1873 the number of the former stood at fifty-six, and that of the latter at twelve. After September, 1873, Government aid to denominational schools ceased, and the schools collapsed.
Education matters—so far as the Government is considered— for the Province of Canterbury, are in the hands of two Boards. The one for North Canterbury controls matters in the counties of Akaroa, Ashley, Ashburton, Cheviot, Kaikoura, and Selwyn. page 63Its office is in Christchurch, in the Normal School building in Cranmer Square. It has 143 schools, with a staff of 445 teachers, and an average attendance of 13,462 children.
In Christchurch and the immediately surrounding suburbs there are twelve schools, the average attendance at which is 5,300. The buildings are all of them commodious, and of some pretensions to architectual merit, the one in Cranmer Square, of which Mr S. C. Farr was the architect, being probably as handsome a school building as there are in the colony.
At these State schools there are no fees, the education—which is purely secular—being every child's right. The only cost attaching to attendance is the trifling one of books, slate, and stationery. The value of them to the community may be inferred from the facts that a considerable number of the children pass to the higher standards, while many attain to scholarships and pass on to the College, and that the cost to the State of instruction does not exceed £3 4s. 9d. per head.