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Sutton Public School [1871]

There is an excellent history of Sutton Public School published on the occasion of the 125th anniversary: Rob Lord, 'Sutton Public School. 125 years of education 1871-9996'. Sutton Public School 1996.

The following is extracted from Gillespie, 'Early education and schools in the Canberra region, 1999.

A local Committee formed at Sutton comprising John Cartwright, James Moore, Robert Charters and John McEnally sought assistance from the Council of Education in establishing a Half-time School to operate in conjunction with Wyanga Half-time School at the Lake George Ranges. The application, dated 21 February 1871, stated that the reacher at Wyanga had already entered upon his duties at Sutton visiting each locality on alternate days. A daily attendance of at least sixteen children was guaranteed.

In March 1871 James Moore, Secretary of the local committee, wrote seeking a Provisional School, the parents undertaking to send children to the school being William Smith, W.J. McEnally, Edward Hines, Robert Charters, James Moore, James Kershaw, Frederick Butt, William Marks, Mary Armstrong and Robert Whittaker. The Inspector recommended on 15 April 1871 that Halftime Schools be established at Wyanga and Sutton and if attendance was not less than fifteen for six months application may be made for a Provisional School. The Council adopted this recommendation. James Moore in a letter of 15 May 1871 expressed disappoinment and surprise that only a Half-time Schoolhad been approved. He stated that a full-time school under a competent teacher had been in operation with a daily attendance of fifteen for the past three months. The school was conducted in the Wesleyan Chapel and forms and desks had already been supplied. Twenty-five children were enrolled and a comfortable cottage had been built for the teacher. The Council approved of aid being granted for a Provisional School at £36 per annum provided an attendance of fifteen was maintained. Samuel E. Plumb applied for the position but Inspector McInryne declined his application reporting that Plumb was addicted to drunkenness. Nevertheless, Plumb apparently continued as teacher as Moore wrote again in 1871 reporting that Plumb had closed the school for a time and since re-opening it had been unsatisfactory. He suggested that the school be operated half-time with Upper Gundaroo under John Boate. Plumb was dismissed in September but the Half-time arrangement with Upper Gundaroo did not commence until February 1872.

John Boate, who became the teacher at Sutton Half-time School in February 1872, continued until July 1873. The school was then without a teacher until Joseph Edgar took up duty in September 1873. An application for the establishment of a Provisional School in April 1877 proved unsuccessful and the Half time School closed in October 1877.

In October 1880 Francis Williams, Francis Dunn, John Southwell and William Field applied for aid for a Provisional School listing the following parents who undertook to send children to the school: Richard George Rowley, Francis Dunn, John Southwell, Thomas Darmody, Edward Gambell, William Tully, Robert Hines, Donald Dawson, Sarah Ann Whittaker, Frederick Butt, John Whittaker, William Field, Samuel Millgate, Francis Williams and Hugh Read. The application proved successful and the school opened in October 1880 in a building rented from Francis Williams with Elizabeth Whyte as teacher.

In the following year an application for a Public School proved successful. In September 1881 the Under Secretary of Lands informed the Department of Public Instruction that two acres of land, being allotments 1, 2, 9 and 10, Section 24 Parish of Goorooyaroo, County of Murray had been appropriated as a site for a Public School at Sutton.

In August 1882 Francis Williams wrote to the Department pointing out the need for new school buildings. A contract was soon let to John Kealman for the erection of new buildings and the Department's Architect reported their completion in September 1883.

Sutton School continued as a Public School except for the period January 1897 to March
1903 during which it was reduced to Half-time status. In February 1915 a contract was let to John Jordan of Queanbeyan for improvements to the school at a cost of £l97 10s 0d. The work included removing and replacing the existing front verandah and steps, painting the school and residence, renewal and repairs to fencing and erection of new water closets.

The Sutton school and residence was completely destroyed by fire on 31 March 1923. The teacher, Percival J. Pidgeon, had been absent at the time. His suggestion that the public hall at Sutton be rented at five shillings per week to carry on the school received quick approval. The Department of Public Instruction moved quickly to replace the school and residence, the tender of J. McKie of Bungendore for the sum of £1,150 11s 0d being accepted on 16 July 1923. Sutton School continued as a Public School and is still operating today.

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