Education Week looks at 150 years of public education in Victoria

Fascinating facts about teaching and thoughts from Footscray Primary School students about the past and future of education.

It's nearly Education Week and this year we recognise 150 years of public education by commemorating the past, celebrating the present and imagining the future of education in Victoria.

Every teacher and school today continues the education story that began in 1872, when Victoria became one of the first jurisdictions in the world to create a central school system offering free, secular and compulsory education to its children.

Student perspectives on 150 years of education

In reflecting on the history of our education system, and considering where the future might take us, we sought out some of the most important voices in education: those of our students.

The kids at Footscray Primary School share their thoughts in the video 'Past and Future', explaining what they think school was like 150 years ago and what they imagine the future will bring. Spoiler alert: they’re expecting robot teachers and hoverboards!

Facts about Victoria's teaching history

Did you know:

  • Melbourne Teachers' College opened in 1890 and led Victorian primary school teacher training before expanding to secondary and kindergarten training in 1913. In 1989, it became part of the University of Melbourne, which holds a digital collection of teacher handbooks dating back to 1929
  • State Schools' Relief was founded in 1930 during the Great Depression by Anton Vroland, a headteacher from Elsternwick State School. Today, State Schools' Relief assists Victorian government school students with uniform, footwear and educational items
  • Brunswick East Primary School served as a training school for rural teachers for many years. Public Records Office Victoria has a collection of photos from the school from the 1950s that show just how much classrooms have changed over the years
  • Following campaigns from teachers' unions, equal pay for women teachers in Victoria was achieved between 1968 and 1971. From 1972, women could apply to be principals of all types of schools. 

Interested in learning more? Check out the State Library of Victoria's research guide, School and education history in Victoria, and blog Celebrating 150 years of public education.

Find out more

For more information about Education Week, including ideas to help you celebrate in your classroom, refer to Education Week.

Visit 150 years of public education in Victoria to explore the profiles, photos and historical records of some of Victoria's oldest schools.

You can also contribute to the 150 years digital time capsule by sending your school memories (photos, reports, trivia) to the department by email:

For further enquiries about Education Week, email: