Series GR-0456 - Department of Education records

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Department of Education records

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  • textual record

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  • 1916, 1940-1946 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Dept. of Education

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2.7 m of textual records

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Biographical history

The Ministry of Education was established in 1920 under its first name, the Dept. of Education, by an amendment to the Public School Act (SBC 1920, c. 82). The educational system of British Columbia had been founded in the Crown colony period in the Common School Act (1865), replaced by the Common School Ordinance (1869), and administered respectively by the superintendent of education or inspector general of schools, reporting directly to the governor-in-council. The Public School Act (SBC 1872, c. 16) was enacted in 1872, creating a Provincial Board of Education and a superintendent of education reporting to the Provincial Secretary. The Provincial Secretary also doubled as the minister of education until 1924. It was not until the 1920 amendment to the Public School Act that a distinct Dept. of Education was constituted with the functions and responsibilities of education in the province. The Dept. of Education, under the direction of the minister of education, assisted by a deputy minister and superintendent of education, was responsible for the maintenance and management of all normal schools, the issuing of teachers’ certificates of qualification, and advising the Council of Public Instruction on all matters relating to education in the province. Home economics, high school correspondence, recreational and physical education, extension and adult education, and educational reference and school services were added as branches or divisions between 1920 and 1950. The department assumed responsibility for the School of the Deaf and Blind (Jericho Hill) in 1922, the Victoria School of Art in 1938 (closed in 1942), and Vancouver School of Navigation in 1938. In 1942 the Provincial Library and Archives, the Public Library Commission, and the Provincial Museum were transferred to the department from the Dept. of Provincial Secretary. By 1947, the work of the department was divided among the following branches: High School Correspondence Branch, Elementary Correspondence Branch, Educational and Vocational Guidance, Industrial Education, Adult Education, School for the Deaf and the Blind, School Radio Broadcasts, Division of Tests, Standards, and Research, Text-book Branch, Visual Education, Inspection of Schools, and Normal Schools. In 1976, the Dept. of Education was renamed the Ministry of Education (OIC 3199/76).

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Correspondence inward and outward primarily between inspectorate No. 2, and the Assistant Superintendent of Education (1916); and reports on teachers filed by inspectors' names (1940-1946). GR-0456 consists of district and municipal school inspectors' reports. Reports for 1916 were prepared for the Superintendent of Education, Alexander Robinson; reports for the period 1940-1946 were submitted to the Chief Inspector of Schools, Dr. H.B. King. Also included are reports from the Inspector of High Schools, the Inspector of Technical Education, and the Director of the Home Economics branch for the years 1941-1946. The reports for the 1940s deal with schools throughout the province and so provide a detailed record of the state of public education at that time. Generally, the reports contain evaluations of school buildings, equipment and grounds, along with assessments of the organization and management of individual classes within the schools. The reports also included evaluations of the teachers working in the various schools. The reports were originally filed under the names of the school inspectors, an arrangement which has been maintained here. However, to facilitate research on particular schools and communities, an effort has been made to identify the boundaries of the different school inspectorates. Prior to 1946 and the advent of well-defined school districts, boundaries of the various inspectorates were sometimes imprecise; the inspectorates varied in size and did not always coincide with municipal, rural, or even regional areas. The inspector of schools in Agassiz, for example, also reported on schools at Alert Bay; similarly, the inspector responsible for Port Moody also looked after schools in Saanich and Powell River. Researchers are, accordingly, advised to use this collection with GR-01492 (Directories of School Inspectorates, 1937 - 1946). The directories provide the names of school inspectors as well as the names of schools and the number of teachers within the inspectorates. As well, researchers should consult the Annual Reports of the Public Schools. The published Reports contain summaries of inspectors' reports, plus information on the location, size, and classification of provincial schools. GR-0456 may also be used in conjunction with GR-0122 (School Inspectors' Reports, 1918-1957). The reports which comprise GR-0122 are arranged alphabetically under the names of individual teachers and schools.

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These records are restricted. Please contact the BC Archives for information about access.

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General note

See GR-122.

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Accession number(s): 88-0056

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