SOUTH AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION BENEFITED from some of its distinctive strains of Protestant Dissent, including German Lutheranism. The founding of the colony on a theme of freedom from interference by the state and its establishment church was important in shaping the education system.
South Australia in 1851 was the first Australian province to cut off state aid to church schools and insist on a mainly secular curriculum in public-supported schools (1852). This reflected Protestant resentment over established government support in Britain for the Church of England.
The lack of state aid in South Australia didn’t stop the drive for quality Protestant education led by figures such as John Lorenzo Young and his Adelaide Educational Institution. The Congregational Church’s minister James Jefferis, a key figure in founding Adelaide University, reflected a regard for education above sectarian beliefs.
Meanwhile, balancing the Dissenting influence, South Australia private education at the top level was blessed by the arrival of the scholarly first Anglican bishop Augustus Short, who started St Peter's College and in 1854 appointed headmaster George Farr (motivated to move to Adelaide by the illness of his wife Julia Farr) who raised the college to approach the level of the best elite schools in England.
South Australia matched other states in gradually making public education also free and compulsory.
Cutting state aid has been seen as a Protestant tactic to deny Catholic education. But South Australia gave birth to two of the earliest Catholic education forces: the Jesuits and Mary MacKillop’s Sisters of St Joseph.
The liberal element in South Australian Protestantism particularly supported MacKillop’s work. This liberal socially progressive side of Protestant Dissent fed into the votes-for-women campaign and in turn the wider concern over issues such as public education. It produced remarkable female educationists.
Blanche McNamara was made Australia’s first female inspector of schools after the women’s suffrage vote in 1874. Lydia Longmore, inspired by a “divine fire” as the daughter of a Wesleyan missionary, was Australia’s first inspector of public schools specialising in infant education.
COMPULSORY FREE FULL SECULAR PUBLIC EDUCATION ACHIEVED BY 1915
In 1868, politician, merchant and pastoralist Alexander Hay proposed and chaired a parliamentary select committee to look into the South Australian education system. Strongly influenced by Congregational minister Thomas Quinton Stow, Hay was a firm supporter of free primary education. His committee recommended a secular and compulsory education system. This became law seven years later in 1875. Among the opponents was John Lorenzo Young, founder of the private Adelaide Educational Institute, who spoke against any government interference in education.
PRIVATE COLLEGES FOR BOYS THRIVE IN 19th CENTURY WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
St Peter's College originated in wealthier early colonists wanting to have private schools for their sons equal to those they attended in Britain. They founded the Church of England Collegiate School of South Australia or “The Collegiate School” as a proprietary school in 1847 in the schoolroom of Trinity Church on North Terrace. The school's foundation was followed by the arrival from Britain of the first Anglican Bishop of Adelaide, Augustus Short. Short brought an endowment of £2,000 from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to set up a Church of England school. Short intended to use the Trinity church schoolroom in North Terrace, Adelaide, as the basis for this new school and his chaplain the Rev. T.P. Wilson became headmaster. He also bought the site in Hackney where the school moved. In 1849, Short negotiated with the Trinity School proprietors to set up a council of governors and rededicate it as the Collegiate School of St Peter at Hackney.Headmaster George Farr (1854-79) is credited with raising St Peter’s to the standard approaching the elite schools in England. Three Nobel laureates – Lawrence Bragg, Howard Florey and J. Robin Warren – have been among St Peter’s students .It has also produced 10 state premiers and 42 Rhodes scholars.Today, the senior school has the bulk of the grounds and most of the historic buildings. To the south are the preparatory school and Palm House (reception-year 2). The “Big School Room” is thought to be Australia's oldest classroom still in constant use. St Peter’s is a a member of Australia’s G20 Schools group.
Pulteney Grammar School, founded in 1848 as Pulteney Street School, is South Australia’s second oldest private school. Established in the Anglican tradition, it admitted students of all denominations and non-Christian faiths, at its original site on the Pulteney-Flinders streets corner, Adelaide, before moving to South Terrace in 1919. Anglicans lost their third college, Queen's, in North Adelaide, in 1949. Pulteney Grammar School, founded in 1848 as Pulteney Street School, is South Australia’s second oldest private school. Established in the Anglican tradition, it admitted students of all denominations and non-Christian faiths, at its original site on Pulteney-Flinders streets corner, Adelaide. Pulteney’s long-serving principals included W. S. Moore (24 years), W. P. Nicholls (41) and W. R. Ray (26). Its first female principal Anne Dunstan took office in 2014. In 1919, Pulteney Grammar moved to South Terrace, Adelaide, where its Nicholls Building was opened by Australian governor-general Lord Forster in 1921. By 1953, Pulteney Grammar School offered a full education for boys, from reception to until Leaving Honours. The school changed from an all-boys day-school to admit both genders in 1999. Adelaide’s other Anglican college was established in 1883 by the Rev. Thomas Field as the Christ Church Collegiate School in Jeffcott Street, North Adelaide. It was later renamed Queen’s School and then Queen's College. Its pupils included future physics Nobel laureate Lawrence Bragg and famous aviators Ross and Keith Smith. It closed in 1949 during to lack of working capital. Many of its boys transferred to Pulteney.
John Lorenzo Young arrived in Adelaide in 1850, having been educated in France, Germany and a graduate in the "sciences of the enlightenment" from King's College, London. He taught these new sciences to the sons of Adelaide's dissenting majority from 1852-1880, just 16 years after settlement. After a short trip to the Victorian goldfields, Young set up his Adelaide Educational Institution, at Ebenezer Place, Adelaide, in 1852. This became the premier private school for the sons of colony’s wealthier Protestant Dissenters who went on to eminent careers with a lasting impact on South Australia’s agriculture, architecture, banking, law, mining, health, politics and public services. By 1853, Young’s 96 students included future premier Charles Cameron Kingston; Joseph Cooke Verco, doyen of the medical fraternity; Adelaide's first native-born mayor Caleb Peacock; Dr William Gosse’s three sons; Edgar Smith Wigg’s sons; John Barton Hack’s sons; Herschell Babbage’s sons. Young’s science-based but unorthodox education was non-denominational and egalitarian. His lectures encouraged rational thinking and acute observation. He rejected rote learning, uniforms, punishment and religious instruction. Students could choose some subjects. In 1867, Young’s school, South Australia’s largest, moved from Stephens Place to Freeman Street into the old dissenting Congregational Chapel. The next move, in 1871, was to Young Street, Parkside. Architect Edmund Wright designed his schoolhouse that closed in 1880 when Young retired, having educated 1,500 young South Australians.
Two forces in Australian Catholic education – the Jesuits and the Sisters of St Joseph – started their work in South Australia. Austrian Jesuits, Fathers Kranewitter and Klinkowstroem, arrived in Adelaide in 1848 with German immigrants. They set up an abbey diocese at Sevenhill, near Clare Valley. Besides planting Clare Valley’s first vines, the Jesuits set up the first Catholic boys’ school in South Australia. It was also a seminary for diocesan and Jesuit priests. Seminary graduates included Christopher Reynolds (first Adelaide bishop) and Julian Tenison Woods (also a distinguished geologist). As Penola parish priest, Woods (later the director of Catholic education) met governess Mary MacKillop and they founded in 1866 the first Australian religious order: Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, dedicated to educating poor children. By 1869, it had 21 schools (the first at Yankalilla) in Adelaide and the country. MacKillop’s road to sainthood (in 2010) involved disputes with church authorities that led to her being excommunicated (1871-72). During that time, she was sheltered at Sevenhill by the Jesuits who'd paved the way for many of her schools. St Mary's Dominican School is on the Franklin Street, Adelaide, site of the earlier Poor School run by the Sisters of St Joseph in 1869. Christian Brothers College opened in 1879 in Wakefield Street, Adelaide, and Sacred Heart College, Somerton Park in 1897. Catholic education gained imputus after the South Australian education act 1875 enabled state primary schools that some Catholics believed "masked Protestant biases as well as general godlessness".
Scotch College was founded in 1919 out of the earlier Kyre College at Unley Park that lost many of its former students in World War I. The delay in getting a Presbyterian school for boys was due to the small size of that denomination only having 5-10% of South Australia’s population and that earlier funds raised for Scotch College were diverted to founding the University of Adelaide. Scotch College, now at Torrens Park property owned and built by Robert Torrens, Walter Hughes and then Robert and Joanna Barr Smith, came from the fundraising of minister John Seymour who also helped start the Presbyterian Ladies (now Seymour) College. In 1918, Kyre College became Scotch College. Founding chairman was influential Cambridge-educated Adelaide University classics professor Darnley Naylor. The move to Torrens Park in 1920 allowed Scotch to be the first South Australian school with a farm on campus for agricultural education. During World War II, the property was used by the United States army and Royal Australian Air Force and the school had to move to Birralee, Belair and Brierly Lodge. Scotch recruited Charles Fisher, a master at Harrow School and son of the archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffey Fisher, as its third headmaster (1962-69). The college's outdoor education and nature conservation programs were boosted by the lease of Goose Island in 1966. In 1972, the college became coeducational under reformist headmaster Philip Roff, with the middle school founded the next year. Today, the school is run by a board of governors linked to the Uniting Church of Australia.
Pembroke School – an upmarket independent coeducation and nondenominational day and boarding school in Adelaide’s Kensington Park for about 1700 students – was formed in 1974 by amalgamating Girton Girls School and King’s School for boys. Girton was one of many private girls’ schools started in Adelaide. Lillie Smith, wife of a stock broker whose fortunes varied, decided to have a regular income by buying a Kensington property in 1915 and setting up her school for girls. It flourished for nearly 50 years. King’s College came out of 1920s moves to amalgamate the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Although union didn’t happen, a new cooperative spirit led to the Baptists joining Congregationalists to form King’s College. King’s College emphasised the academic, physical and cultural rather than faith. Its only clergyman headmaster R.A. Cook (from 1957) eventually had a school chapel built in the 1960s. First headmaster J.A. Haslam, was the son of a Methodist minister, and later W.N. Oats, a Quaker with strong Methodist background, revived the school, from 1942. Among challenging views, Oats’ vision for King’s to become co-educational wasn't realised for another 30 years. In 2006, Pembroke became the first South Australian school exempted o accept more girls than boys to redress a gender imbalance in lower years. Pembroke School Foundation has supported major additions such as Diana Medlin Junior School, John Moody Technology Centre, senior and middle schools’ resource centres and Girton arts precinct.
ADVANCED SCHOOL FOR GIRLS A BREAKTHROUGH FOR WIDER QUALITY EDUCATION FROM 1879
UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE EMERGES FROM CHURCHES' UNION COLLEGE IN 1872
South Australia’s second university, Flinders, was created in 1966 on land being developed at Bedford Park as a second campus for Adelaide University. The Labor state government, elected in 1965, wanted to break Adelaide University’s control of the state’s tertiary education. The Labor party favoured “University of South Australia” but the academic staff wanted the name of a “distinguished but uncontroversial” person. Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the South Australian coastline in 1802, was chosen. A significant early decision was to build the Flinders Medical Centre next to the university campus to have the university’s medical school within the new public hospital. This was the first medical school in Australia to be integrated into a hospital.
In 1960, the School of Mines and Adelaide Technical High School merged to form the South Australian Institute of Technology. Added building courses saw another name change in 1963 to the School of Architecture and Building. Finally, the University of South Australia was founded in its current form in 1991 with the merger of the South Australian Institute of Technology (1889) and the College of Advanced Education, comprising teachers colleges going back to 1876, and the South Australian School of Design with its origins in Charles Hill and H.P. Gill’s 1856 school of arts.
FROM ANNIE MONGOMERIE MARTIN, THE MISSES BROWN, CAROLINE JACOBS TO ADELAIDE MEITHKE
The appointment of Australia’s first woman inspector of state schools, Blanche McNamara, in 1897 was resisted by the males who had dominated as heads of state schools, while most teachers were women, after education became compulsory in 1875. McNamara was one of the women appointed to important government offices after South Australian women won the right to vote in 1895. McNamara became a role model for women teachers. But she also recommended reshaping girls education to make them better fitted for performing domestic duties.
In 1905, Catherine Helen Spence’s niece Lucy Morice helped to found the Kindergarten Union of South Australia. With Lillian de Lissa (director of the first Adelaide free kindergarten in Franklin Street in 1906), she battled to keep the union's early independence. Morice lectured in history of education at the Kindergarten Union teachers' training college in 1908-25. Her belief in kindergarten as a hope for society's future was allied with her distaste for the regimented state schools.
Lifelong friends Adelaide Miethke and Phebe Watson, made a dynamic impression on education, female teaching and other aspects of South Australian life in early 20th Century. Among many achievements, Meithke started the world’s first school of the air from Alice Springs in 1950. Phebe Watson became senior lecturer at Adelaide Teachers’ College. As secretary and president of the Women’s Teachers League in 1937, Watson and Miethke led 600 of the 1000 women members of the South Australian Public School Teachers' Union to leave and form the South Australian Women Teachers' Guild in protest over their lower salaries.
A RESHAPING OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION GOING INTO 20th CENTURY
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATION NUMBERS INCREASE IN EARLY 21st CENTURY
About 170,000 students were enrolled in South Australia’s 520 public schools in 2016 – the biggest sector of South Australia’s 785 schools. Public schools offer special interest courses, ranging from the space school (with a simulated Martian crater and landscape) at Hamilton Secondary College to 19 music-focus schools including Brighton High School to dance drama at Golden Grove High to sport and physical education at Henley High School. The Australian Science and Mathematics School is based at Flinders University campus. A school is based also at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital. The new Liberal state government in 2018 introduced the concept of four schools teaching students entrepreneurial skills and attitudes, emphasising creativity, problem solving and collaborating. One hundred places places for students with special needs were planned in 2017 for each of the two new schools likely to be in the Munno Para region and the southern school in the Sellicks Beach/Aldinga region. Some metropolitan high schools don't have a geographic zone for students. These include those with an adult education or specialised focus such as Urrbrae Agricultural School.
INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK EXPANDED
Maple Leaf School at the University of South Australia (MLS-UniSA) will be the first high school in Adelaide started by a Chinese education group. The school will offer a bilingual English-Mandarin curriculum for senior high school students in years 10-12. It is expected to open in 2019 with about 60 to 75 students. China Maple Leaf Educational Systems opened its first school in 1995 and has grown to become the largest operator of international schools in China.The Maple Leaf School will open opportunities for the University of South Australia and its teacher students to be pioneers in the study of bilingual education.
Five more Chinese schools have signed on to teach the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) curriculum. The strong interest in China in the SACE shows its reputation as an innovative and rigorous certificate. Chinese educators want their students to be able to develop – beyond rote learning – skills such as planning, managing time, initiative, evaluating information and making decisions. The SACE is known for innovation, especially through subjects such as the Research Project. The SACE curriculum is taught also in the Northern Territory, five colleges in Malaysia, and two colleges in China. Known as the SACE International outside of Australia, the SACE has been delivered in Malaysia since 1982 and China from 2005. More than 40,000 students across Asia have studied SACE International.
PRESSURE RISES OVER STANDARDS IN ALL SECTORS IN 21st CENTURY