The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
EDUCATION IN EARLY STANLEYStanley showing Exchange Building Illustrated London News 1856


From 1843 settlers from Port Louis relocated to Stanley, the new seat of British Government, and new immigrants arrived from Britain. By 1847 a wooden building was built on the site of the now Speedwell Store on the corner between Villiers and John Street was intended for the purpose of a church and school. The room that served for the first church and school in Stanley was just 18ft x 27.5ft. It was however, converted to just a church. In 1856 Governor Moore decided that the west wing of the Exchange Building, built in 1854 by Governor Rennie, close to the sea for settlers marketing their produce, should be used as a Government School. From 1862 this was called ‘Holy Trinity Church’. In 1886 a second peat slip damaged the building so badly that it had to be demolished. A schoolroom was then set up in one of the Dockyard cottages.

Among the new settlers arriving in 1849 was a young woman, Mary Ann Fleming, later to become Mrs William Biggs. She initiated the idea of a Catholic church and a school, volunteering her own home as a meeting place. In 1860 the first qualified teacher, George A Clarke, arrived in Stanley with his wife having been appointed in London in 1859. His salary was made up of £44 from the Government and £12 from the War Office for schooling the children of the marine detachment. This was further supplemented by the settlers who paid one shilling per month for each attending child. Soldiers’ children paid one and a half pence per month. Mrs Clarke opened a girls’ school, also in 1860, which was initially paid for solely by parents until 1861 when the Colonial Government began contributing £8 per year. Between them these two early schools had a joint attendance of 117 pupils in 1861. George Andrew Clarke died on 23rd September 1871. He is buried in Stanley Cemetery and the children of the School left a memorial that reads: He zealously instructed for thirteen years. He died in harness’.

The 1851 census records a population of 372, roughly half of them being Catholic. Education in those days was very often through the church. Father Foran, a Catholic priest opened a Day School in a house behind the court house, providing a teacher, Samuel Hawkins, in August 1880, but a disappointingly low number of pupils attended. Numbers dwindled until it closed, probably in 1886 and Father Foran left the Islands, recommending as he left that Salesian Roman Catholic priests take over St Mary’s Mission in the Falklands. Father Diamond quickly established a Mission house and school and by the end of 1889 was teaching a rapidly increasing roll of 41 children. Several children of Protestant parents attended Mr Diamond’s school in which he stated that no religious subjects were taught. No religious doctrines were taught or observed in the Government schools, the course of instruction being entirely secular. In 1882 the school became separate from the church and the Reverend Dean Lowther Brandon, an Anglican Priest lost any influence in the daily running of schools. However he was to become ‘Government Inspector of Schools’.
The ‘Education Report for 1889’ made by Brandon in his new capacity as Inspector records for the Senior School a total number of names on the rolls for the year of 70 boys and 48 girls and for the Infant School 61 boys and 80 girls. He notes that the School Attendance Ordinance had worked fairly well but with a private school (Father Diamond’s Catholic school) having been opened in Stanley, it was impossible for the schoolmaster or school inspector to know whether all the children of school age were attending or not.

An increased grant of 24 shillings was made available for the appointment of an additional teacher to teach the girls sewing in the senior school, saying this would ‘much increase the efficiency of the girls’ education but ought to be only a provisional arrangement until there can be separate schools for boys and girls, the one as now taught by the schoolmaster, and the other by a trained schoolmistress. Many girls would continue at school much longer than they now do, as parents have a most decided objection to sending their girls to a mixed school.’

Most children left school at 13 or 14 years of age. Boys found employment during the summer months in the peat bogs and vegetable gardens. Girls went out to work situations or worked at home. In his summary for 1889 Dean Brandon recommended that six shillings per annum should be granted towards a junior assistant in the infant school during the six summer months when the attendance of young children was large; that it should be considered having separate schools for senior boys and girls, and that a return of the attendance at all schools in Stanley should be made once a fortnight to the Colonial Secretary. Although eligible for school many children did not attend and in 1889 a School Attendance Ordinance made it compulsory for children between 5 and 13 years to attend school. With no officer to enforce attendance this was difficult to carry out the order. The Colonial report of 1890 says 'many parents are negligent in the matter of their children's education and attendance of children was 'somewhat fitful' owing in some measure to the help which is required at certain times and seasons by the parents of those children able to give it. Legitimate excuses for an hour's absence are put forward such as "'taking fathers breakfast' and in the summer 'helping to rickle peat'.

My Grandfather Authur Porter b. 1884 said that he went to school in ‘The Dockyard’. (He attended the school for only a year before his father removed him to place him on a schooner for work at the age of 9 so possibly the School Attendance Ordinance of 1889 was not strictly enforced). The new Government School was proposed in 1886 but it was not erected until 1900 and it was one of the most modern buildings in the new town. It was situated behind the Cathedral Church Hall which itself was behind the new Cathedral. The new school was staffed by seven teachers and had a roll of about 200 children by 1917.


Sources include: Report on the Blue Book for 1889. The Falkland Islands, South America- The Reverend C McDonald Dobley. The Falkland Islands Journal, The Falkland Islands- Ian J Strange.


Header: Stanley 1856. The Illustrated London News