Gawler Thematic History - Schools and other Educational Institutions

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Type of thing Government
Date made or found 2020

Schools and other Educational Institutions

In the first years of settlement, some teaching took place at ‘Clonlea’ and probably other pioneer homesteads 107. With the rapid growth of the township from 1845, however, and particularly the addition of more women and children to the population, there were new social developments. A public meeting in 1846 resolved to collect funds for a public school house and this was established on one of the sites reserved for a school in the original township plan (Lot 22, Fotheringham Terrace) and opened in 1848.

It served also to accommodate various denominations in their religious observances until their own churches were built. The Schoolhouse was built from Government funds (£40) which were allocated by the Church of England Board for the creation of a school (St George’s) along with further subscriptions totalling £200. The school was opened in 1850 and was initially a sectarian school, however within 3 years the school was open to children of all denominations. In 1857, it was extended with the addition of a separate classroom for a girls’ school in 1866. Thus by the late 1860s Gawler had two licenced schools with six teachers and 236 scholars. 108

St Joseph School was founded in 1867 at the rear of the Roman Catholic Presbytery and conducted by the Sisters of St Josephs.

A number of other private schools emerged during colonial times including in Willaston and Gawler West, but they were largely made redundant with the arrival of the first Government school, Gawler Public School, one of the first eight model schools built in the colony, built by William Tardif and opened in 1878 with accommodation for 600 pupils. L.S. Burton, Master for 24 years of St. George's School, became the first Headmaster of the public school. Built of solid bluestone on Church Hill overlooking the Parklands and later known as the State School and more latterly as the Primary School, it has provided education to significant numbers of Gawler residents to the present time.

Other primary education schools included Evanston Primary School and Gawler East Primary School. Secondary education developed from ‘continuation classes’ which commenced in 1907, and the class which became known as Gawler High School in 1910 moved to a separate building on Lyndoch Road in 1915.

Denominational schools have continued to exist in Gawler with replacement of St George’s Grammar School with Trinity College in 1984 and the Immanuel Lutheran School replacing the old Lyndoch Road High School in the late 1980s.

The Gawler School District was declared to be under the provisions of the Education Act in 1878 and monthly meetings were held at the Institute to discuss matters affecting local and district schools. Further education has been provided since 1888, when some men met at the Gawler Institute to form an ‘Amateur Assaying Club’. This was the forerunner of the Gawler School of Mines and Industries which was established within the Institute in 1893. As numbers increased, the School moved into James Martin’s offices and in 1898 into the old Telegraph Office. In 1915, the School moved into premises on Lyndoch Road and in 1917, it was renamed the Gawler Technical School, teaching a broader range of courses including for returned servicemen and in cookery, shorthand, dressmaking and carpentry. Renamed the Gawler Adult Education Centre in 1967, it moved into premises off Jacob and Finniss Streets before being renamed Light College 109.

Further education is today provided in the TAFE campus at Gawler on High Street. (note from Gawler History Team editor - TAFE is no longer in Gawler)

Roseworthy Agricultural College was established in 1883 as the oldest agricultural college in Australia. Founded to work on improving the productivity of local soils it has continued to make internationally relevant contribution to the use of superphosphates and improved wheat farming and now under the auspices of the University of Adelaide, it continues to work at the forefront of research and higher education in agriculture and the wine industry 110.


This report has been prepared by the following people:

• Nancy Cromar (Flightpath Architects)

• Deborah Morgan (Flightpath Architects)

• Kate Paterson (Flightpath Architects)

• Douglas Alexander (Flightpath Architects)

The study team would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following people:

• David Petruzzella (Strategic Planner; Town of Gawler)

• Jacinta Weiss (Cultural Heritage Centre Coordinator; Town of Gawler)

• Jane Strange (Senior Development and Strategic Policy Officer; Town of Gawler)

Gawler History Team thanks: Flightpath Architects, Ryan Viney and the Town of Gawler for allowing us access to this important document of Gawler History.

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