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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 41

Proposed Amendments in the Compulsory Clauses of the Education Act

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Proposed Amendments in the Compulsory Clauses of the Education Act.

1. Sections 13 and 14 of the Act No. 447 are repealed as from the day of 1878.

2. The term "Minister" or "Minister of Public Instruction" shall mean the responsible Minister of the Crown administering this Act.

The term "State School" shall mean a school conducted in a building vested in the Minister of Public Instruction and his successors in fee or for any lesser estate, and shall include training school, rural school, night school, and any other special school for which regulations may be made, except High School.

The term "High School" shall mean a school set apart for the higher instruction of children by the Minister of Public Instruction.

The term "Board of Advice" shall mean a board elected by the ratepayers of a district or appointed by the Governor in Council and gazetted as a board of advice.

The terms "Chairman of the Board of Advice," "Correspondent of the Board of Advice," shall designate persons who have been gazetted as elected chairman and correspondent of a board of advice by its members.

The term "Parent" shall include guardian and every person who is liable to maintain or who has the actual custody of any child, as also any person with whom a child resides or who is the occupier of a house in which a child resides.

The term "Standard of Education" or "Standard" shall mean and include competency in reading, writing, and arithmetic to the satisfaction of an inspector of schools.

3. Every parent shall register the name of any child resident with him [or her] and between the ages of six and fifteen years with the head teacher of the State school of the district within one month of the child's attaining the age of six years, or within two weeks of the child's coming to reside under his [or her] roof.

In registering, the parent shall give the age of the child; and, should the teacher require it, shall produce a registrar's certificate; and all registrars shall be bound to issue copies of such certificates at one shilling a piece. Where the child has been born out of the colony, an affidavit or statutory declaration before a justice of the peace by the parents or surviving parent shall be sufficient; and where this evidence is not forthcoming, the school board or police magistrate may grant a certificate that shall be deemed sufficient on an examination of such evidence as can be procured.

The penalty for neglect to comply with these provisions where a child or children are not attending the State school of the district shall be not less than £1 or more than £5 at discretion of the police magistrate, and shall be recoverable on information by the truant officer or any member of the police force, and half of the fine imposed shall go to the informant.

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But where the children are attending the State school of the district, it shall he at the discretion of the police magistrate to remit the fine.

4. The parents of children of not less than six years nor more than fifteen years of age shall cause such children (unless there is some reasonable excuse) to attend school for fifty days in each quarter till they are nine; and for eighty days in each half-year till they are twelve; and for sixty days in each half-year till they are fifteen or until the child has been educated up to the standard. Where the holidays extend over more than a week in the quarter the excess shall be counted to every child as part of its legal attendance.

But a child may qualify for the standard before the age of twelve years, and, having so qualified, shall only be compelled to attend sixty days in the half-year till it is twelve, and not at all afterwards.

No child shall be held to have attended school unless it has been present for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, and has been marked present at the first roll call on each occasion.

The penalty for not complying with these provisions shall be a fine not exceeding ten shillings for a first offence and not less than ten shillings or exceeding one pound for a second offence.

5. Any of the following reasons shall be a reasonable excuse under section four.

(a.)That the child is under efficient instruction in some other manner.

The word "efficient" shall be construed to mean, that at nine years old the child can pass the standard of the third class in a State school, and at twelve years old the standard of the sixth class; the judges of its capability being State inspectors appointed for that purpose; the production of a certificate, signed by the State inspector of the district, shall be proof that the child has passed an examination of the kind.

Where the child has presented itself and failed twice, it must show that it is attending the State school of the district, or that it has been dispensed from such attendance.

(b.)That the child has been prevented from attending school by sickness, or by the presence of an infectious disorder in the family, or by temporary or permanent infirmity, or by any unavoidable cause.

But for this excuse to be valid notice must be sent within a week to the head teacher, who may, if he pleases, require a doctor's certificate in the case of sickness or temporary infirmity, and who shall refer the decision about permanent infirmity and unavoidable causes to the school board.

Fear of infection shall be no reason, as a school kept open by the school board is to be considered safe.

(c.)That there is no State school within a distance of two miles by the nearest road for children under nine, or within two and a half miles for children between nine and twelve; or within three miles for children over twelve.
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Where there is doubt as to distance, the parent must apply for information to the board of advice.

(d.)That the child has been educated up to the standard of education. The production of the second certificate given by the State inspector to children who have attained the standard of the fourth class in a State school shall be proof that the child named in it is no longer required to receive education.
(e.)That the child has been discharged from 20 per cent, of the legal attendances by the board of advice, because one parent is dead, or permanently absent from home, or disabled by illness, and because the services of the child are needed at home. Such discharge must be in writing, and shall only be effectual within the limits stated.

6. It shall be the duty of the parent to inform the head teacher within a week in any case where the child is unable to attend. For this purpose a reply on the form forwarded by the head teacher shall be sufficient; but if for any reason the head teacher do not forward that form, such omission shall not discharge the parent of the duty to give information.

The fine for neglect in such cases shall not be less than one shilling nor more than a pound, at the discretion of the police magistrate, and shall be independent of any further fine that may be inflicted for the child's non-attendance.

7. Every parent whose child does not attend a State school shall be compelled to present him [or her] at the first half-yearly district examination held after the child has attained the ages of nine and twelve years respectively, unless he [or she] shall have passed previously. Should the child fail to pass the standard at such examination, the inspector may grant six months' grace; but after a second failure the child must attend the State school of its district till it has reached the standard.

The fine for neglect to present the child at such examination shall be not less than two pounds nor more than five pounds, and shall be enforced in every case, unless a medical certificate be produced showing that the child was unable to attend; in which case the inspector may order it to present itself at any other examination within a distance of twenty miles, when it shall be strong enough to do so.

Always provided that a parent may elect to register his children as qualifying for the high school standard; in which case they shall pass the high school examinations, and passing these shall be exempted from the State school examinations.

8. Parents intending their children to pass the high school examination shall register them like other parents at the State school of the district when the children are six years old, and after every change of residence into a new school district; and shall state whether the children are being educated at home or at a high school or at a grammar school; and shall be liable to the same penalties in case of default to present their children for examination that are imposed on parents neglecting to present their children at the State school examinations.

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For the purposes of this Act, every school not kept open by the State, and not registered as a primary school, shall be considered a grammar school.

Parents may at any time apply to have their children transferred from the high school list to the State school list; and in this case certificates of first or second high school examination shall be considered equivalent to first State school examination and standard examination respectively.

9. Children registered for the high school examination shall be required to pass in the standard of the fourth class at eight years of age, and in the standard of the sixth class at eleven; and, failing to do so, may be sent, at discretion of the high school inspector, to attend the State school of the district. At fifteen years they must present themselves for the high school standard examination at such places as the department shall appoint.

Those who pass the high school standard, not having exceeded the age of fifteen, shall be qualified to receive appointments in the civil service.

Every child entered for the high school standard examination shall pay a fee of £1.

10. Where the board of advice receives information from the truant officer or from the police that children not belonging to a State school are habitually vagrant, or habitually employed in household or field or factory work, it may summon the parents to send them to the State school of the district, or to a denominational school, where at least twenty hours of attendance are enforced during the week; and it shall be no answer that the child is receiving private instruction, or that it is attending a night school. But an appeal from this order of the board shall he to the police magistrate.

11. Where a parent has been summoned for neglect to educate his children, the board of advice may, at request of the parent, withdraw the summons and accept his confession of judgment, and the payment of a fine; and such confession of judgment shall operate as a first conviction in case a second summons is taken out against the parent in question.

12. No parent may transfer his children from the State school which they are attending during the half-year unless he has moved into another district, or unless he obtains permission to transfer them from the head teacher of the State school they are at, or from the board of advice of the district, and produces the written consent to receive them of the head teacher of the school to which he wishes to transfer them, State or private.

Nor shall any State school receive pupils from another State school or from a private school during the half-year, unless the parents have moved into the district, or unless the written consent of the last head teacher or of the board of advice be produced.

13. Cases under this Act shall be decided by the police magistrate only.

The truant inspector or the chief police officer of the district shall prosecute under instructions from the board of advice; and page 52 the production of the school rolls shall be sufficient evidence for the conviction of a truant.

14. The board of advice in every district shall furnish returns in every quarter to the department, showing how many children are on the rolls in every school, what is the number of defective attendances, what pleas for defective attendance have been allowed, what prosecutions have been ordered, how many convictions have been obtained, and what is the reason of the failures.

15. Where the full attendances in a district fall below 80 per cent, of the children of school age, the Minister may appoint a truant officer for the sole charge of that district, and his expenses shall be defrayed by a rate levied on the district until the attendances have risen above the limit of 80 per cent.