These extracts from the logbook for Hastwell school, in Wairarapa, in January 1898 shows the difficulties of getting a reasonable number of children to attend classes regularly. Boys were being kept at home to help with the harvest of grass seed, which was late that year. At many country schools attendance was sporadic in the 19th century. Parents needed their children to help with farm work, and that requirement was given priority over education in many families.
Average attendance for week 64. Roll no. 80.
The attendance in the upper standards is very poor. In S.6 out of 4 boys one only put in 6 attendances. “Assisting to gather grass seed” is the excuse. The grass seed crop is late this year.
Av: attendance for week 65. Admitted 1 boy. Roll no. 81. The attendance in the upper standards is still unsatisfactory. Grass-seeding is not yet finished. The boys are very useful to their parents while the grass harvest is being gathered. The crop is fully three weeks later than usual. The Board’s carpenter inspected the shelter shed this afternoon. I have again, twice this month, called the Committee’s attention to the strong smell arising from the closets, especially the girls! Apparently the sheds want more ventilation.
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Alexander Turnbull Library, Hastwell School Log books (qMS-0926-0930)
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