School and education history in Victoria

Research Victoria's primary and secondary schools, text books and readers, past exams and results, curricula



A subject search on the library catalogue for Education -- Victoria -- History will return many other relevant results.

Government reports

Use reports of inspectors and annual reports to find key information relating to school districts, standards, curriculum and educational change.

See the Education Department tab of this guide for a complete list of annual reports, many which are available online via the Victorian Parliamentary Papers online database.

These reports also provide insights into the history of schools and education, such as these examples from the 1914/1915 report:


"It is a regrettable fact that the playgrounds of the great majority of our schools are wretchedly small. At the time when the schools were established vacant allotments hard by provided excellent playing fields for the pupils, and care was not taken to secure sufficient areas of playing space before the inevitable encroachment due to growth of population in the neighbourhood. As a result, the schools are now hemmed in by buildings, and playgrounds can be acquired only at a huge cost." (p.16)

Manual Training

"The War has affected the development of the manual training centers...Very many splints, desk chairs, camp stools, crutches, and bed rests have been made by teachers and pupils. This work has had a good effect in stimulating feelings of patriotism and genorosity." (p.20).

Histories of specific schools

Search the Library's catalogue by school name to find histories of many schools, for example, Northcote High School, Melbourne GrammarMount Scopus College, St. Brendan's Primary School, Shepparton, Berwick Grammar School.

Other resources:

Search newspapers for references to schools. See our research guide on How to find items in newspapers.

Government and church administered schools for Aboriginal Australian children

The history of education in relation to Aboriginal Australians and the separatism that was practiced from the colonial period onwards is a distinct and complex history in itself.

Some further reading:

School numbers

During the 1860s government schools were numbered in alphabetical order.

Archival Access Victoria has created a database and interactive map using data and records from Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), which lists schools in Victoria by name, including school numbers. Only schools for which PROV hold records are included on this list.

Susie Zada has complied two indexes of pre-1975 schools by name and number from Vision and realisation: a centenary history of state education Volumes 2 and 3 (over 7,000 schools in Victoria's past).

150 years: Victorian school profiles

The Department of Education's School Record Management Program has been travelling all over Victoria, finding and archiving old school records. Read a short history of 150 of some of Victoria's oldest schools on 150 years: school profiles.

General histories - Australia

A history of Australian schooling / Craig Campbell and Helen Proctor

Australian education, 1788-1900 : church, state and public education in colonial Australia / A G Austin

Australian education in the Second World War by Andrew Spaull

The Australian government school, 1830-1914 : select documents with commentary / A G Austin and R J W Selleck

History of Australian education - a comprehensive website giving timelines, histories and online resources for researching the history of education on both a state and national level.

Australiana index

The library holds a collection of local history files which contain ephemeral material such as newspaper articles, brochures and occasionally, auction brochures.

You can find these files using the Local history index, which is held in the Newspapers & Family History Reading Rooms, and by searching the online Australiana Index. (To search comprehensively, check both indexes).

Records held by other organisations

The following records are held by the Public Records Office Victoria:

Series VPRS 14519 School History Files

Series VPRS 14557 School Histories and other Publications [Education History Unit]

  • 'School histories, but also included are school yearbooks, pamphlets publicising school reunions and other miscellaneous publications'.