During the comparatively short time he was teacher at Dunolly Public School, Singleton NSW, my grandfather was very active in two key organisations: the NSW Teachers Federation and the Workers’ Educational Association.
NSWTF: Throughout its history, Federation has campaigned long and hard on issues affecting public education, teachers’ salaries and teachers’ working conditions, those issues which are at the heart of teaching as a profession in New South Wales.
The first Annual Conference of Federation in 1919 had listed as part of the agenda “inadequacy of teachers’ salaries, understaffing of schools, unwieldiness of classes, insufficiency of accommodation, conducting of classes in sheds, corridors and unsuitable rooms to the detriment of the health of teachers and pupils”. Other matters included “unhealthy congestion of school population in overgrown suburban schools, as against decentralisation into schools with a maximum enrolment of one thousand, the high percentage of unclassified and insufficiently trained teachers, inadequacy of supervision by heads of departments owing to class duties and absence of schools for the mentally disabled”. Federation continues to campaign on these issues. All go to the very heart of a quality public education delivery.
In the years immediately following its establishment, Federation was concerned to increase its membership. In 1920 the membership of the Federation was 5,600 or 78% of the total membership of the Department of Education. At the end of the Twentieth Century membership was about 64,000. This number included permanent full time school, TAFE and AMES teachers, part time school, TAFE and AMES teachers and casual teachers as well as those teachers in other associated groups. Now, in the 21st Century, membership remains high.
WEA Hunter has a long and proud history as the leading provider of community based adult learning in the Hunter Region. WEA Hunter (Worker’s Educational Association – Hunter) is a public company limited by guarantee. It is an independent non-profit community based organisation whose sole aim is to promote and provide educational opportunities for adults.
Since 1913, WEA Hunter has delivered a diverse range of learning opportunities for all sections of our community. The Workers’ Educational Association originated in England and was introduced into Australia in 1913. In its heyday it operated in every state except Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Nowadays, the WEA exists in New South Wales (Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong) and in South Australia (Adelaide).
Courses were first offered in the Hunter in 1913 in Newcastle, Waratah and Cessnock. The Northern Branch of the WEA of NSW formed in Newcastle in March 1917.
On Tuesday night in the Methodist Hall a public debate was held between the W.E.A.. and the R.S. and S.I.L. In the absence of the Mayor, Mr J. Ogilvy presided, Rev. D. Weatherall, who led the W.E.A. team, moved “That the people of Singleton should support the New State Movement.”
R.S. and S.I.L. later became RSL.
- Nice stuff from Singleton Historical Soc & Museum here.