Woodford Dale


This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time – Education Week, 1959 – and their origins.


The school site of one acre, approximately a chain from low water mark and subject to flooding, was resumed in 1894 and had another acre added in 1913. Today the school stands in extensive lawns, has a shrubbery, trees border the northern boundary and poinsettias face the road. Enrolment is 22. The first school must have been on private land as in 1885, 37 pupils greeted the school attendance officer, while in 1888 the Local School Board commented “Nice healthy working condition and children very attentive to their duties". Local opinion sets the foundation date as 1869. The school was attached to the residence and replaced by the present buildings in 1911. Both teacher and pupils must have had nerves of steel as the new school was constructed a few feet away on the northern end of the old one and the residence a similar distance from the southern end. The old building was very low and continuous flooding must have rotted the timber. Only one flood, 1950, has entered the present residence.

The first teacher was probably a Mr. Thompson, followed by Mr. Archibald and Mr. Ryan. We haven't any records of these gentlemen - they either refrained from punishment or filled a book - our punishment book beginning in 1885 with Thomas Starr, who caned two boys of the same name. I. McDonald (1887-1891) suitably impressed the younger generation that bad language and obscene writing were unprofitable. I. Simes (1892-1897) concentrated on inattention and carelessness. J. Wheaton (1897-1900) wielded a heavy rod and many must have been the sighs of relief when he was transferred. J. Taylor (1900-1914) taught most of the older ex-pupils living here today.


River traffic was extensive in those days and papers were delivered tied to a lump of coal. The children watched where it landed and then searched the lantana for the prize. Birds in the silky oak were also noisy and one senior boy quite often was sent out to shoot enough parrots for a pie. The same boy killed a rooster but was too late to stop the young son of the house from chopping off the pet magpie's head. A house adjoining the school was the official club house of the boys, and pipe smoking the chief activity, until a boy walked out into the arms of the teacher - in all 15 pipes were confiscated and it was back to castor oil stems and corn silk.

W.V. Ewson replaced Taylor, but only remained a few months, when B. Reilly took charge (1914-1916). His most notable performance was "6 on the hands and 4 on the seat" for a boy who preferred swimming to schooling.

J. Blackwood (1917-1918), H. Sheldon (1919-1920), J. C. McKinnon, for a few months only in 1921, were next in charge, and then W. M. Miller, who certainly didn't spoil any children by sparing the rod.

J.W. Morrissey (1924-1932) is perhaps the only teacher to talk an inspector out of inspecting his school and then take time off to drive him to the neighbouring one. L. L. Munday (1933-1936) was in charge when the school finally closed, reopening as a subsidised school in 1937. Pupils gradually attended Cowper or Woodford Leigh and the school closed in 1940. W. D. Clifford reopened the school in September, 1942, and is still in charge. Enrolment in the early years was chiefly in the 35 to 45 band, but had fallen to 18 in 1932 and 14 just before closure. Today the position is strong as the school now serves a wider area since the closure of Woodford Leigh, and only a quick drift of population could upset the balance. The school has occupied a strong position in the life of the community and has been the centre of most social activities. Each year a concert of some two hours' duration is presented and a picnic is held on the nearest Saturday to Empire Day, followed by a bonfire and entertainment at night. Each year there is a Christmas Tree in conjunction with the concert, all children receiving a gift.

The P. and C. have always ably supported the school and over the years have given a wireless, a record player, Banda duplicator, projector, a reference library and a rotary lawn mower. P.E. equipment, including jumping sticks, tight rope, horizontal bars and quoits, has also been provided as well as many smaller items used in manual arts, etc. The original old bell was salvaged and erected and a modern flag post installed.

North Coast School Histories

North Coast School Histories: as transcribed by Kathy Pearson and posted to NorCo List. STATUS QUO MCMLIX This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.