Aussie Educator

History of Australian Education

Schools as we understand them, have existed in Australia for more than 200 years, beginning in NSW and expanding across the country as other settlements began. Public School systems did not begin until considerably later than this, beginning with primary level schools, then expanding into the secondary area beginning in the 1880s. Universities first arose in the middle of the 19th century, with early childhood education in the form of kindergartens and preschools lagging well behind all other sectors.

Much of the information relating to the history of education in this country is held by state and national archives, rather than by education systems though, interestingly, many individual schools are now becoming more attuned to maintaining their histories than was the case previously.

This page covers the history of education in all states & territories, as well as historical information at . It is designed to cover all schools and all levels of education.

States & Territories

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

  • Updated ! Facts and Figures
    ‘Browse facts and figures on various aspects of public education in NSW’.
  • New ! Glossary of school types
    ‘The glossary provides definitions of the different school types in operation since 1848’.
  • Government Schools
    ‘This section gives a detailed history of public education in NSW and includes information on the Early History, Introduction of the national system, Public Schools Act 1866, Public Instruction Act 1880, Reform movement in secondary education, and NSW education system since World War II’.
  • New ! Links to Further Information
    Included ‘are a list of organisation that may supply further information about schools and education in NSW’.
  • Photo Gallery
    ‘Historical photos spanning from 1848 to the late 20th century’.
  • School History Database Search
    Schools in NSW, past and present. New ! A Database Search ‘contains entries for more than 7 390 current and former schools in NSW#8217;.
  • NSW Schoolhouse Museum of Public Education
    ‘Provides a glimpse of schooling from the past. The museum is a popular excursion venue for schools. Students participate in a hands-on education program interacting with artefacts and re-enacting early school lessons’.
  • Photo Galleries - Schoolhouse Museum
    Links to a range of sources for photos relating to education including their own.
  • School Records Guide
    ‘Overview of education in New South Wales 1788-c.1979 plus a list of the main record series’.
  • School Student Records Guide
    ‘Records provide information relating to Orphan Schools, Industrial Schools and Government schools for admission purposes’. Both Pre-1900 and Post-1900 Records.
  • School Teachers Guide
    ‘Brief overview of sources held by State Records that relate to teacher employment in the Government sector between 1788 and 1979’.
  • State Archives
    Education & Welfare Subject Guide. School, Aboriginal Schools, pupil records, teachers, photographs.
  • Sydney Boys High School
    ‘Officially opened by Sir George Reid, Minister for Education, on October 8, 1883. Sydney High pioneered the field of Public High School Education in Australia’. Brief historical notes.
  • The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801-1850
    Digital Thesis [PDF format]. Several sections. Beryl M Bubacz.
  • Updated ! The King’s School
    Brief history of ‘the oldest independent school in Australia’.

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Northern Territory

  • Education in Wadeye and the Thamarrurr Region
    History from 1945 to the present.
  • History through the Decades
    ‘The following history of the vocational education and training sector in the Northern Territory, including the NT Training Awards, has been collated and written by Dr Don Zoellner, Research Associate at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University’.
  • Our History
    ‘History of the development of Catholic schools in the Northern Territory’. Done in time periods.
  • The Archives Navigator
    Use the Navigator for NT Government and education data.


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South Australia

  • The HOPE Collection
    ‘A collection of textbooks and curriculum material used in South Australian primary schools from the 19th century. It also includes audiovisual and kit material, and a selection of teachers’ lesson plans, school roll books and students’ copy books’. Only accessible at the University of South Australia Library.
  • Lutheran Schooling during WW1
    Article recording attitudes toward this.
  • The Manning Index
    The Index at the State Library of South Australia. Documents and other resources on multiple topics.


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Western Australia

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National Information

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Other Information

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