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
- Education in the
Australian Capital Territory
There is a short history section here. Wikipedia.
- Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre
‘The Hall School Museum collection contains approximately 2 200 individual items’. There is also a Database of Early Capital Territory and district Government Schools and Teachers.
- History of Schools in the
Australian Capital Territory
Details, links to other sources. RTF. Find further information at Archives ACT.
- Schools in
the ACT [Libraries ACT]
Six Tables provide opening dates of various groups of school including non-government schools.
New South Wales
- Aboriginal Education Timelines in NSW
‘The main timeline illustrates some of the long struggle of Aboriginal people in NSW against inequality in education. The two case studies outline some issues in more detail’.
- A NSW Aboriginal Education Timeline
‘briefly outlines some turning points and events in NSW institutional Aboriginal education’ during this period. Includes references to individual schools and actions.
- Clean, clad and courteous : a History of Aboriginal
Education in New South Wales
National Library of Australia. Book.
- Documents in the History of Aboriginal education in New
National Library of Australia. Book.
- Female Orphan Institution 1801 -
‘Set up in George Street, Sydney, by Governor King in 1801 to house destitute young girls’. Details, Archival and Published Resources.
History of New South Wales government schools
Previously listed as Government Schools of New South Wales from 1848. ‘Historical information on NSW government schools operating since 1848. Includes a number of information sources’ such as :
- Facts and Figures
‘Browse facts and figures on various aspects of public education in NSW’.
- 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’.
- 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. 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
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
Digital Thesis [PDF format]. Several sections. Beryl M Bubacz.
- The King’s School
Brief history of ‘the oldest independent school in Australia’.
- 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.
- A Brief History
Primary, Secondary, Technical, Tertiary, Special, Early Childhood. Download a Text only version here.
- A Chronology of
Special Education in Queensland
Period listings from 1875 to the present.
- Distance Education in
Brief history with tabulated information.
- Education History Queensland
State Education, History topics, Tell it Digitally, School Anniversaries, History collection, links. For assistance go to the Education History Services site.
- Education History Topics
Educational history through specific topics such as Queensland School Readers, Free Milk Scheme, State Scholarship examination, Good Manners chart, corporal punishment, more.
- Education Queensland History Links
Covers Queensland, Australia and other states.
- Female Teachers in Queensland State
Schools : A History 1860-1983
A series of PDF downloads.
- History of Non-State Schools
Brief details about early schools from 1826.
- Teachers in Queensland
State Archives, Queensland. Available for download in CSV format.
- Schools [Queensland State
This page provides access to Brief Guides and methods of searching for information on various aspects of school and staff history.
- School Records
Access these in the State Archives Guide here. Information about school buildings form part of the Government Building Records.
- School Admission and Progression Age
An Education History. Topics See above.
- School Anniversary
‘Opening and closing dates of Queensland schools and Queensland school anniversaries [2010-2014]’. Information Sheets, Countdown Checklists. ‘School anniversary booklets have been collected for many Queensland State Schools. Search this online catalogue, by school name, for holdings’.
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.
- Education Board
The Education Board during the period 1853 to the end of 1855.
- Education Department
Archives Office. Education Department - indexes, registers and correspondence, teachers, more.
- Index to Photographs
Select “Education” from the Subject listing, complete other areas as required.
- Tasmanian Archives Online
Enter “History of Education”, then access online databases.
- A History Of State
Education in Victoria
Victorian Department of Education and Training. First published 1922. Read online or download in PDF format. Can also use a Second Download Site here. A Third Site is found here. Multiple formats on the last site.
- A Timeline of RMIT History
Timeline with summaries for listed years from 1881 to 2015.
- Education Act 1872
Information, transcript in PDF or RTF, view scans.
- Freedom of Information
Clarifies what can be asked for and from whom, limitations [dates] and other options.
- List of Common
‘Retention and disposal of common permanent school records’.
- Public Record Office
Use “Education History” on a simple search at the Public Records Office to generate 5 000+ records.
- Records and Information
‘These records include school student files, student reports, Department confidential student files, school based personal staff files, financial records, building and facilities records, school council files, staff selection documents, and correspondence’
- Victorian Koorie Education
- Bibliography of The History of Education in Western
National Library of Australia. Book.
- Education And
State Records Office of Western Australia. Education Department, School Records, District School Boards. Tertiary Institutions, other records. Links to specific areas. Lists the holdings in the Battye Library.
- Northcliffe School History
‘Created at Northcliffe District High School by the Year 8 Class of 2004’.
- A History of State Aid to Non-government Schools in Australia
‘A history of funding to non-government schools in Australia since colonial times and its evolution since World War II’. 2007 publication in PDF format. Now archived through Pandora Archive.
- Australian National Museum of Education
‘Comprises an on-site repository at the University of Canberra and a distributed collection which aims to bring together in a virtual way, archival material held in by national network of school museums registered as members’.
- Dictionary of Educational History in Australia and New
‘Aims to provide a range of authoritative entries about the multifaceted history of education in Australia and New Zealand, including histories of various types of schools and schooling; teachers and teacher training; curricula and pedagogies; childhood and youth; educational purposes and policies; and educational philosophies’. Outstanding !
- Doris Chadwick
“History of School Education in Australasia”. 1890s to the 1960s. Most can only be accessed at the University of Wollongong. Some material available in PDF format.
- Historical time
series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia : Infographic
‘This infographic presents a summary of training activity in apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia for the period 1963-2017’.
- History of Music Education in Australia
Deakin University. Specialist Musical Training and Music in General Education. The Colonial/Early Federation Period and The Modern Era.
History of VET in Australia : Overview
‘Historical coverage of vocational education and training in Australia beyond the period covered by Gillian Goozee’s 1995 revised edition of Development of TAFE in Australia and timelines covering aspects of the development of vocational education and training’. Includes a detailed Timeline 1969- worth viewing.
- Schools in Australia :
“The 25 Years Since The Karmel Report [Conference Proceedings]”. Download from here.
- The Development of TAFE in Australia
‘From the late 19th century until the 1990s’.
- New !
VET Knowledge Bank - History of VET
‘The aim of this product is to provide easy access to information that tells the story of VET in Australia. This page provides links to key documents and timelines’. You can also find a serch listing of documents in relation to this at New ! this VOCEDplus page.
Schools Textbook Collection
‘Textbooks used in Australian primary and secondary schools wherever published’. Also workbooks, curricula, classroom manuals, tests. Many from the 19th century. One online gallery has School Day Memories, being covers from student workbooks of the 1930s. 19th Century Schoolbooks features American schoolbooks of the same era.
- Diversity in Australian Education
2008 article by Stephen Dinham.
- Evolution of
Apprenticeships and Traineeships in Australia : An Unfinished History
‘Traces the evolution of Australia’s apprenticeship system from European settlement in 1788 to the present day. Complements an earlier NCVER paper Apprenticeship in Australia : An Historical Snapshot . Concentrated on the second half of the 20th century’.
- Updated !
Free to Learn - The History of Progressive Education in Australia
Download the audio file from this ABC program.
The Australian College of Educators. Scroll down to this section.
- History of Australian Education and Welfare
Information and access details for holdings at the University of Wollongong Archives. Access information on Early Childhood Education here.
- History of Education Review
‘ The Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society publishes History of Education Review’. Abstracts for all articles. Archived issues.
- History of Montessori in Australia
Montessori Australia Council. Select “History” from the menu on the left, then the relevant section required. Includes data and pictures.
- The Evolution of Education in
- The History Of Distance Education In
Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Vol. 6 #3, Elizabeth Stacey. Use a Free Trial to read the article.
- The School of the Air and Remote
Information from The School of the Air. Use the timeline [1944-2013] to see changes and events during its lifetime. Find out what a typical day is like [Australian Geographic] or watch a short video titled What Is The School Of the Air ? [National Geographic].
- The State High
School in History
Comparison of UK and Australia, mostly post WW11.