Council of Public Instruction

Until 1971, the Council of Public Instruction was the highest authority in the public school system of British Columbia.

The Council of Public Instruction was created in 1891 by the Public School Act of 1891 [54 Vict., c. 40]. It consisted of the minister responsible for Education (usually the Provincial Secretary and Minister of Education) and other members of the Executive Council (i. e. the Cabinet) of British Columbia. The Superintendent of Education was ex-officio secretary of the Council of Public Instruction [CPI].

The powers of the CPI varied and were redefined on several occasions between 1891 and 1971, when the Council was abolished. Generally, however, the Council of Public Instruction was responsible for:

Also, "The making of any provisions, not inconsistent with the Public School Act, that may be necessary to meet exigencies occurring under its operation; and generally from time to time, the making and enforcing of all such general rules, orders and regulations as may be necessary for the purposes of giving full effect to the provisions of the Public School Act."

Following a major revision of the Public School Act in 1958, many of the Council's duties were delegated to school district officials and to senior administrators in the Department of Education. During the late 1960s, the CPI functioned simply as a "rubber stamp" for policies and programmes already approved by the Superintendent and the Department of Education. The CPI was considered to be obsolete when the Department was restructured in 1970 and it was formally abolished on April 2nd the following year, by an amendment to the Public School Act.

Written by Patrick A. Dunae

Statutes of British Columbia: Public School Act, 1949, c. 57; 1958, c. 42; Patrick A. Dunae, The School Record (Victoria: Ministry of Government Services, 1992), pp. 5, 23-24; Leonard Ross, "A Review of the History of the Council of Public Instruction," unpublished ED. B. 420 [Philosophy of Education] research paper, University of Victoria, n.d.