Pascoe Vale

Charles Martin's home page

  1. Pascoe Vale School.
        1. February 27th - Head Teacher of Pascoe Vale National School.
        2. D.I'S REPORT - PASCOE VALE, 27TH OCT 1856.
      1. Pascoe Vale - Full Report. 1856.
        1. FURNITURE.
        3. TEACHER.

Pascoe Vale School.

February 27th - Head Teacher of Pascoe Vale National School.

    On 27th February Charles took up the position as Head Teacher of the National School at Pascoe Vale. Pascoe Vale was a suburb of Melbourne, about six miles from the city centre, so I suppose it represented to Charles not only a "more remunerative position", but also a far more desirable position from the point of view of its location.
    Those who know Pascoe Vale today, with it's busy streets, houses and shopping centres, will smile at one D.l.'s description of it as it was then -
    "Pascoe Vale - in the township of Horsted on a little tongue of land between the Mooni Ponds Creek and a little water-course, the whole of which is a government reserve, one acre having been granted to the school and an additional one for industrial purposes. The valuable agricultural country around it is for the most part fenced and cleared, and cultivated and divided into farms from 50 - 100 acres. One allotment was sold a short time back for £250 the acre, which purchase money (l understand) will be cleared in a year if prices keep up."
    The Pascoe Vale National School had been founded in 1850, when an advertisement had been placed in a newspaper for a "master" and "mistress". John Cochrane, an Irishman who arrived in Australia on 30th March 1850, was the successful applicant, and in a letter to a friend he gives some idea of the early days of this school -
    Jane teaches the female school and I teach the boys. It is just a new house. It was only opened on 29th July. It consists of two large schoolrooms, a classroom and 3 very comfortable apartments for our accommodation, the whole cost £305, so you may suppose it is a complete building of the kind; and there are 2 acres of land attached, of which I will receive the benefit. Government gives £40 per annum to each teacher, that is £80 for us both, but they will only give £40 for both for the first year, the children will average about 5d per week each, and we have 53 already, and it is supposed there will be near 100 when the days get longer.
    Aug 9th. I like teaching tolerably well for the time, considering that I was always very much averse to it; Jane is getting on very well also; our hours are short, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing an hour in the middle of the day for dinner, and it is very easy to recon­cile a person to anything that they are well paid for, so you, see, considering everything, we are comfortably suited for a beginning.

    Prior to Charles arrival the school had had quite a few changes of teacher,
and Charles received his chance when the inspector gave a very unfavourable report on the previous teacher, and decided to make his report available to the Board of Local Patrons (i.e. the school committee). The Board met on 22nd November and considered the D.I.'s report on the teacher, in which it was stated -"Mr Gilsenan does not seem to have the tact (?) of a teacher, he knows nothing of the art of teaching writing, and l am very unwillingly compelled to think that although he is an excellent man, he is not suited for a schoolmaster." (Mr Orlebar - D.l.)
    The meeting unanimously resolved that Mr Gilsenan be dismissed and that the school be proclaimed vacant on the 26th Day of next month (Dec). The chairman was empowered to communicate this decision to Mr Gilsenan (lucky chairman - and lucky Mr Gilsenan) and to request that the school premises be vacated on that day. It was ???? (this word is illegible in the original) that the Christmas holidays should take place, from 20th Dec to 1st Jan, and that the board of National Education be requested in the interval to make an appointment of suitable teachers to the school.
    Upon arrival at Pascoe Vale, Charles and Elizabeth lived in the residence, which was either attached to the school or in the school grounds. His salary was £150, and Elizabeth's was £80. It appears that there were three good sized class-rooms. The average daily attendance in the year prior to Charles arrival was about 70, but owing to the fact that there were three denominational schools nearby, one of which was opened about the same time as Charles and Elizabeth arrived, the number of children dropped dramatically, with the total enrolment falling to 30, and the average daily attendance to 20. So the size of the school was only marginally bigger than that of Point Nepean so far as attendance's were concerned - although of course the large brick building would have given a totally different atmosphere to the job (not to mention the fact that the city kids would no doubt have been far more worldly wise). It is difficult to know how Elizabeth was retained as a teacher, but it appears that she was.
    The report which Charles received from the Inspector, Mr Orlebar (who appears to have been rather strict) was nowhere near as glowing as his one at Pt Nepean, but nevertheless it wasn't too bad.


    The District Inspector carried out his inspection on 27th October. The number on the rolls at the date of inspection was 30, and the average daily attendance since March was 15.
    The report indicates that the building was of brick with a shingled roof and was "floored" with "country" wood(whatever that is). It had one story and seven rooms, three of which appeared to be classrooms, the largest one measuring 27 feet by 16, and the other two 23 x 16. Presumably therefore there were originally three teachers at the school.
    The size of the schoolyard was two acres and fenced, some of which was cultivated. The were two privies, but they required new cesspools and were neither "decent or healthy".
    So far as Charles in concerned we learn that he trained at the Borough Road for 6 months from July - Dec 1851. His salary is £150 for himself and £80 for his wife. The relevant sections of the report relating to him are -

Punishment - Confinements in play hours are the only punishments used.
General Tone and Aspect of School - Quiet and orderly.

Manner - Not sufficiently energetic.
Tone of Voice - Good.
Skill in Keeping a Class Attentive - Good.
# Handwriting - inferior, but he has been regularly instructed in teaching writing and is fairly acquainted with the rules. He has wide general know­ledge, but is not sufficiently acquainted with the Irish Reading Book.
Method of Examining - He is strict in exacting correct answers.
General Fitness - This small school is no sufficient test, but, the appearances on the whole are in his favour.
# This particular District Inspector was Mr Orlebar. I noticed that his own handwriting was absolutely magnificent and at its best almost a work of art. His annual reports consisting of some 30 or 40 pages must have taken him weeks to write out. It seems that he had a fixation with handwriting, because it crops up consistently in his reports for all teachers. Charles was to fall foul of him in later inspections (and not just for handwriting only).

The D.l. then goes on to observe that -
"the lamentable failure of this school is owing to the establishment of 3 schools in its immediate neighbourhood. A Roman Catholic School is the nearest building to it. A Church of England School intercepts the children who would otherwise come to it from the many houses on the Castlemaine Road in the direction of Melbourne and the Presbyterian School at Essendon takes those in the direction of Castlemaine. There are therefore no less than 4 schools in this neighbourhood where one is sufficient. On the books the only denom­ination is Baptist, besides Church of England and Presbyterian, and there are only 6 Baptist. Under these circumstances I should recommend to give the school up but we ??????? the best school buildings and the ground fenced in and under cultivation. I think it would answer to a master to take borders and make it an industrial school. The master should have some assistance from the commissioners, but not full salary, and at the same time sufficient to make it worth the while for a good active man to undertake it and fix himself there. It would then ultimately empty the denominational schools."
After the Inspector's visit, and possibly as a result of it, much thought was given as to whether or not the school should remain open. The correspondence files record that "in consequence of the small attendance the services of the teacher of Vocal Music is discontinued." This further note then appears -
22nd Nov 1856 -
Number of children on the roll - 29. Average attendance - 19. The patrons regret the falling off in this school, and are of the opinion that for the present there is not much prospect of any improvement. This they think is attributable not to any want of efficiency on the part of the teachers, but to the number of opposition schools established in the district.

On the 5th December the Secretary wrote to the Pascoe Vale School -
    I am directed by the Commissioners to call your attention to the annexed(??) extracts from a report made by Mr Orlebar who visited the Pascoe Vale School on 27th November last. The Commissioners desire me to request the earliest attention of the local board to this subject, and they would suggest that a meeting be called to consider the same without delay."
Although the subject matter of this letter was not recorded, it is undoubtedly to consider options as to the future of the school.

Just before Christmas Charles and Elizabeth received their "Certificates of Proficiency" but I'm not sure of the exact significance of them. The corres­pondence files note - .
24/12/56 - The certificates of Proficiency for Mr and Mrs Martin have been handed over to those parties.

Pascoe Vale - Full Report. 1856.

On roll at Inspection - 30. Av daily - 15. Present at Insp - 19.
School house and Premises - Material brick, shingled roof, floored with country wood.
No of Stories and Room - one story - seven rooms.
No and Size of Rooms - 3. 27 x 16; 23 x 16; 23 x 16. Ht to Rafters; 10 ft
Privies - 2. They require new cesspools. They are neither decent nor healthy.

Play Ground - The land in front is unoccupied and the children have the run of it.
Size - 2 acres.
Is It Fenced In? - Yes. It is under cultivation.


Is there sufficient space for the drafts? - Yes.
Is There a Large Blackboard? -A music board and 2 blackboards.
What maps are there? - The World, Palestine, England, Scotland, Ireland, Europe.


Is Any of the Instruction Individual? Arithmetic.
Is The Register Correct? Yes - except that names have been struck off the roll only after 3 months absence.
Punishment - Confinement in play hours are the only punishments used. General Tone and Aspect of School - Quiet and orderly.


Charles Martin - age 29 (he was actually 28) Appointed 1st March, 1856.
Date of Training and Present Class - 11/2. He trained in the Borough Road - 6 months. July - Dec 1851.

Manner- Not sufficiently energetic.
Tone of Voice - Good
Skill in Keeping a Class Attentive - Good.
Handwriting - Inferior, but
State Shortly Result of Your Oral Examination - he has been regularly instructed in teaching writing and is fairly acquainted with the rules., He has considerable general knowledge but is not sufficiently acquainted with the Irish Reading Books.
Method of Examining - He is strict in exacting correct answers.
General Fitness - This small school is no sufficient test, but the appearances on the whole are in his favour.
Income - £150 himself. £80 his wife.
Is His house, if free, in Good Repair? Yes, except that he complains that it is very damp.
Rates of Payment; 1/- for first in family; 9d for second; 6d for third.

26.10.56 - a son to Henry and Eleanor - Henry John. Some consolation for their loss of Emma. 6.1 1.56 - a daughter to James and Louisa Crump - Emma Elizabeth. Also, sometime during the year, a daughter to Thomas and Hannah Farr - Emily Elizabeth.
    Also in 1856, on 1st May, Mary Hitchcock, Elizabeth's sister, was admitted to the Teachers' Training Institution in Carlton to train as a teacher. She, along with the other applicants, had been examined by Inspector Orlibar, and Principal Davitt, during April. This Institution had been in operation for two years, and was to survive for only another two years, before being closed for a decade. The students were required to live on the premises, and life for them was very bleak and highly organised. The course ran for 5 months. Mary was 18 years of age at the time. She was "classified" on
3rd September.)

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