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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

  • Chronological Lists
    ‘Show all NSW government schools by order of opening date. Final closing date or current open status also shown. Files are in PDF format’.
  • Facts and Figures
    Information under multiple headings from Number of Schools 1848-2007 to Teacher Education. 15 sections.
  • Photo Galleries - Schoolhouse Museum
    Links to a range of sources for photos relating to education including their own.
  • Photogallery
    ‘Spans the years 1848 to the late 20th century. They are arranged by subject. Photos will continue to be added. Click on the subject in the left menu to view the photos. To view all the photos in a photo album, click on the red Next button’.
  • School Database Search
    Schools in NSW, past and present. About Government Schools database entries provides information, sample entries, glossary, more.

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Northern Territory


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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

  • 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 done 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 Zealand
    ‘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 Collection
    “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.
  • 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 [VET] 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 : 1973-1998
    “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’.

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Other Information

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