In 1955 I was enrolled in the Correspondence School in First Year High School.
A brief description of the community where we lived during this time will help show how pivotal correspondence schooling was to the secondary education of students in the area. My family lived at Wurraming, a Forestry settlement in the state forest half way between Dwellingup and Boddington. Dad was a Forester in charge of the local Forestry unit. Apart from our Irish teacher, everyone’s father was employed within forestry. Wages were not that great.
Wurraming had a single room one teacher primary school. The population ranged from 10 to 15 students with approximately one to three pupils in each grade. After the Second World War, the school was very cosmopolitan; most of us had parents or grandparents from America and distant European countries like England, Poland, Latvia and Croatia.
Not only was our little bush primary school about 2km from the settlement, but the nearest high school was a considerable distance away. Attendance at the high school was impossible as there was no public transport out of the settlement and very few people owned a car. Enrolment through the WA Education Department Correspondence School was a normal alternative. My friend and I had completed primary school and moved up to the high school years. Every day we would pile into the Forestry red Jeep (no seat belts), and along with everyone else were then taken to school each morning. After school we all walked home together.
Our teacher who was near retirement, liaised with the Correspondence teachers and received and posted off our completed lessons. Lessons were posted from Perth to Dwellingup, then sent out on the log train. Every month a trunk load of books would arrive, some fiction and some non-fiction reference, which were then returned by our teacher the next month. Computers were not even heard of and there was no TV. Settlement parents purchased a school radio so that students could listen to the ABC School Broadcasts. These were lessons from the Correspondence School, some of which were relevant to Year Seven, for example, Geography, History and French.
My favourite Correspondence teacher was the Art teacher. She would write lovely letters and decorate them with drawings of flowers (I wish I had kept them). I did meet her when, during a trip to Perth with my mother, we called into the Correspondence School and met the staff.
It was a learning curve for our parents. Mum was in her element tackling English, History, Geography, etc. Dad took my Maths to work; he and my friend’s Dad plus the other workers all had a go at solving the problems. Eventually my mother decided I would attend a country boarding school. I received a living away from home allowance from the government and, because my mother was an ex-student, a reduction in fees.
Correspondence School provided me an incentive to learn. It taught me resilience and perseverance. I eventually left school qualified to train as a general nurse. I wasn’t quite old enough to commence training so enrolled once again in the Correspondence School in Anatomy and Physiology, a subject that made it easier during probation, studying as a student nurse.