Appointment and Dismissal of Teachers

During the colonial period, school teachers were appointed by the Governor or by the General Board of Education (1865-1869). Under the terms of the 1872 Public School Act, all teachers were appointed by the Provincial Board of Education. Only the Board of Education could dismiss teachers.

In 1873, following an amendment to the School Act, local boards of school trustees were empowered to appoint teachers to schools in their districts. In 1879, after the Provincial Board of Education was abolished, local school boards were also empowered to dismiss teachers with cause.

Local school boards were sometimes criticized for the rather arbitrary manner in which they treated teachers and eventually -- in 1933 -- the Department of Education established a Board of Reference to hear appeals from teachers who felt that they had been dismissed unfairly.

More serious cases involving the dismissal of teachers for gross misconduct or criminal activities were considered by the Executive Council (1879-1890) and by the Council of Public Instruction (1891-1971). These cabinet bodies could suspend a teacher's certificate temporarily or indefinitely.

The duties of provincial public school teachers were first defined in the 1872 School Act. Teachers were required to use authorized textbooks; to teach "diligently and faithfully" according to the prescribed curriculum; to maintain "proper order and discipline" in their schools, according to the established rules and regulations; to keep daily attendance registers, as well as visitors' books containing visitors' remarks on the management of their schools; to hold public examinations of their pupils; and to provide the Superintendent with any information he might require on the "interests or character" of their schools.

In addition, teachers were enjoined to "pay the strictest attention to the morals and general conduct of [their] pupils; . . . to evince a regard for the improvement and general welfare of [the children]; to treat them with kindness, combined with firmness; and to aim at governing them by their affections and reason, rather than harshness and severity."