Drysdale Primary School

The History of Education in Drysdale
Primary School No. 1645 Drysdale 1875 – 1975

Principal’s Report
One hundred years ago when this State system of Education commenced, the number of children of Primary School age in the local community greatly exceeded even our fast-expanding enrolment of today. Drysdale was a very prominent centre educationally with its 3 church schools, and Mechanics Institute providing for adult education.
Over a quarter a century ago when I first taught here, the school’s pony paddock was in constant use, the Young Farmers’ Club specialising in fruit and vegetable growing was still in full swing, a large fenced rose-garden adorned the frontage, no telephone, no electricity, one mantel radio car-battery –operated and frequently re-charged at Parish’s Service Station, a row of pan-type toilets with abundant copies of the Argus, and a total staff of three, characterised the school.
Apart from two classrooms added in the early sixties, all other developments have occurred in these last four years and include: double infant classrooms, internal staff toilets, new staffroom, sick-bay, library-resource centre, arts/craft studio, multi-purpose forecourt, gas heating throughout, specialist staff appointed, and two new classrooms applied for to replace the portable and provide for our large intake in 1976.
Whereas years ago, the educational goals were restricted to the 3 Rs, i.e., at least a literate society these days our sophisticated affluent society, schools are required to provide experience and development over an extremely wide spectrum while still endeavouring to maintain facility with all the fundamentals.
Schooling is at present undergoing the phase wherein the community is being encouraged to play a much wider role in the planning and development of schools supported by greatly increased grants, and wider areas of jurisdiction and accountability. Home and School working in conjunction is beyond question the most beneficial atmosphere to maximise development of new skills and attitudes.
Today, Education is for Living – for every age group, absolute equality of opportunity. Great and exciting developments are with us to ensure adaptability to meet challenges of the 21st Century.
K.F. Swanborough


School Staff
Swanborough, Kelvyn F. (Prin.) Lewandowski, Susan J.
Colbert, Hilda B. (V.P.) Knights, Margaret A.
Holman, John G. (V.P.) Lewis, Charles M.
Graham, Jillian M. Wilkinson, Marjorie F.
Dean, Maurice J. Calcutt, Joan M.
Hampton, Dorothy M. Betts, Pamela J.
Carr, Judith A. Deller, Lee
Hall, Valerie L.

Trainee Teachers on staff from State College of Victoria.
Hoyer, Edward Rawlings, Jeanette
Wilmot, Greg Filbay, Beryl

School Committee
Steen, Kevin J. (Pres.) Bennett, Raymond T.
Millard, Ernest J. (Sec.) Patrick, Alan M.
Hill, Graham J. (Treas.) Moss, Graham W.
Durran, Kenneth Evans, Marion E.
Bennett, Brian C. Wild, Margaret L.

Mothers’ Club
Evans, Marion E. (Pres.)
Deller, Lee (Sec.)
Taylor, Norma (Treas.)

Builders of the Arts / Craft-Library Complex: E.J. Lyons & Sons (Geelong)
Builder of Centenary Multi-Purpose Forecourt: Mr. A. Rivo


It gives me great pleasure to present this, my first report, as President of the Drysdale Primary School in this its Centenary Year.
This year has been a great challenge to me and to the members and working bees have been spent to make this Centenary Year something for past and present pupils to remember forever.
I would personally like to thank the Committee for their guidance and assistance. It was a great step forward for the School when the new Library and Arts/Craft Rooms were proposed, and now complete.
To the people who contributed to the Centenary Fund many thanks for their donations, and to Mr. Rivo for having the Fore Court finished for the Centenary Opening.
Also I must thank the Principal and Staff for their support and willingness to help the Committee to the utmost.
To the Parents who have attended working bees a sincere thank you for helping to keep the School and grounds something to be proud of. To the Mothers’ Club for their efforts during the year, thank you.
In conclusion I hope that this Centenary Week End brings back many happy friendships and memories to all.

Kevin J. Steen


Drysdale Primary School Mothers’ Club was formed on 5th May, 1950.
The first purchases made by the Club were a sound system, projector and screen. An electric copper, urn, cups and saucers, purchased early in the Club’s history are still in use.
Over the years, we have held many functions including fetes, dances, luncheons and stalls as well as a Walkathon, Mothers’ Day Stalls and catering for sports.
From the money raised the school has benefited in many ways. Purchases include Library books, readers, piano, basketball court, sports equipment, carpets, refrigerator and educational aids. Money is also raised for the annual Childrens’ Treat.
We, the members of the Club in 1975 are proud to be associated with the school in this Centenary year.

Marion Evans


In the earliest days of settlement in the Port Phillip area of Victoria (as indeed throughout the settlement of the N.S.W. & Victorian hinterland) the education of settlers’ children was catered for by the establishment of church schools. Mostly these buildings were primitive – serving as schools throughout the week, and as chapels on Sundays. Schooling was not compulsory for children and possibly only the most concerned parents attended to this function. Wealthier parents sent their children to England or Tasmania for their education. Many children remained illiterate.
In Drysdale there were three schools of such nature. They were the Bellarine Presbyterian School (now the R.S.L. property) established in March 1852 with George Knox as its first H.T. and 14 children in attendance, – the Catholic School (until 1859 called the Intended Heads School) established in 1853 with Terence Moran as its H.T. and 31 children in attendance – and the Church of England school built at Quarry Hill, Bellarine (in the vicinity of Mr. C. Deeath’s property) in 1856.
Lack of time has prevented further investigation into the financial background of these Drysdale Schools, but reading of the history of education in Victoria generally reveals that, prior to 1872, there were many attempts to tackle the problems of instruction for children and adults, some of which resulted in limited government financial assistance for these church schools and their teachers’ salaries and also the establishment of common or non-vested schools which had no direct denominational backgrounds. Certainly till 1872, although the growing numbers of children were commanding attention – education was neither compulsory or fully accepted and remained only to part of the population.
It is interesting to note that Drysdale, along with such country areas as Beechworth, Queenscliff, Warrnambool, Wendouree and others in Melbourne itself, was one of 23 having night classes as early as 1862. These were probably connected with the earliest movement of the Mechanics Institute.
1872 saw the Education Act in Victoria passed – bringing in free, compulsory and secular education for children of 6 to 15 years. This meant that in all areas of the state, government buildings had to be erected for the sole purpose of educating children, and this it is that in many areas of Victoria in the last 12 to 18 months, many schools are celebrating their centenary anniversaries.
In the meantime, till the buildings were erected, the government leased the established church schools to carry out its programme.
Such happened in Drysdale. The records branch of the Education Department has forwarded photostatted copies of one letter dated 2/12/1873 held in record – signed by Edwin Trethowan, Thomas Carruthus, Thomas Collins and Eldred Barrand as trustees of the Church of England Common School permitting rental of their building to the Department for £2/0/0 monthly.

A second letter dated 27/12/1873 is from Donald McAndrew as correspondent for the Free Presbyterian Church and school committee, leasing the building for £2/5/0 per month or £27/0/0 per annum.
The Catholic School closed on December 31st, 1873. The Presbyterian School closed in September 30th, 1875. Its H.T. was Mr. W.H. Hall who became the first H.T. of the new Drysdale State School No. 1645. There is evidence that classes began in the new building on August 2nd, 1875.
Mr. Hall was a colonel of the Militia in Drysdale – the drill hall being situated in Elgin Street. He served as H.T. at Drysdale from 1875 – 86.
An interesting passing comment is that according to the Publication “Vision and Realization” Caroline Elizabeth Newcomb when 23 years of age arrived at the nascent settlement by the Yarra River in 1836, became the governess to John Batman’s seven daughters and thus is credited with being the first teacher in the Port Phillip District. She later left Batman’s employ to go to Geelong where she met Anne Drysdale and later again settled at and managed Coryule. She played an important role in the community and church life of the village alongside Coryule – first known as Bellarine and later called Drysdale in honour of her partner.
The following information of interest has been gleaned from Education Department records and the Geelong Advertiser.
30/4/1873 Inspector Main in his letter advised the Lands Department to make application for a site of about 2 acres lying west of the C. of E. reserve between the C. of E. reserve and the road now known as Springs Road. It was used as a drill ground by the Drysdale Volunteers but they had apparently indicated willingness to move to grounds north of this site near the Drysdale Cemetery.
15/1/1874 The Bellarine Board of Advice, which was elected by ratepayers met at Drysdale. The members were Messrs Gallop (chairman) Giblett, Brazier and McAndrew. Charles Brazier, correspondent for the Board of Advice requested of the Education Department – “more commodious accommodation for School purposes at Drysdale – the present schools being too small and badly ventilated.”
27/6/1874 A Geelong Advertiser advertisement called tenders, closing 15/7/1874 for a brick state school at Drysdale.
10/8/1874 Tenders were re-invited in Geelong Advertiser (closing 5/11/1874) for a brick state school at Drysdale. The successful tender was William Swanson of Melbourne. He tendered to build a brick school at Drysdale for £1094/0/0, a slate roof in lieu of shingles would cost £50/0/0 extra.

8/3/1875 Drysdale State School completion date said by Geelong Advertiser to be approximately 1/6/1875 – bricks were being delivered from Portarlington.
4/5/1875 Geelong Advertiser reported that the bricks brought by seas from Williamstown for the new Drysdale State School said to be knocked about by the method of transport, and the inspector did not want to use them in the building – he wasn’t in favour of using Portarlington bricks either.
21/6/1875 The Geelong Advertiser reported that at the Drysdale Ploughing Match – the gathering vigorously discussed the near completed school and the correspondent had printed the following criticism. “The individual who prepared the design and whoever selected the site ought to be awarded a leather medal for their ingenuity. The building lies in a hollow, surrounded by a playground in the shape of a swap, at present admirably adapted for the recreation of ducks, drakes and geese. The structure, composed of brick and slate is entirely destitute of ordinary architectural attraction and it has a cold, dismal, uninviting appearance. Not even a white brick has been inserted to relieve the red ones, and it presents the grim monotonous aspect of a haunted house. What makes the building look all the worse is the fact that only a short distance away is the new Episcopalian Church, quite a handsome little structure exhibiting in vivid contrast the beautifully coloured clays of the district. Even the old mud cottages with their thatched roofs – remnants of bygone days – that still remain in the locality have far more homely and comfortable aspect than this latest specimen of State Handicraft. “
9/7/1875 Geelong Advertiser reported that the new school at Drysdale was completed and would soon be opened.
15/7/1875 Mr. F. Holyock (of Myers St., Geelong) tendered successfully for £48/14/0 to supply school furniture. 12 long desks, 1 master’s desk & stool, 1 table, 1 chair and 2 book presses.
2/8/1875 The grand official opening! The building was of 3 rooms on Lot 41, section 2, portion 8 in the Parish of Bellarine, county of Grant. The account reads that the school was built to accommodate 350 children. The number of children on the rolls before 2/8/1875 was 283 with an average attendance of 115. That day – with the addition of pre-school children and visitors from East Bellarine and Portarlington, there were 400 children present. Besides the H.T. there was 1 lady assistant and a pupil teacher. The Minister of Education was unable to be present – so the school was declared opened by J.F. Levien the M.L.A. for the area. Other speakers included the President of Bellarine Shire, Cr. Geo Henderson and Cr. D. McAndrew, the local Inspector of Schools and Mr. Brazier on behalf of the Board of Advice. The function was concluded in true Drysdale tradition with an abundant afternoon tea. The official party was later entertained at the Buck’s Head Hotel.

1/6/1875 From Education Department records – the school was officially open as on that date the H.T. “gave up possession of both” leased schools, and this no. 1645, was the official Drysdale State School.
Oct. 1883 3 roods, 6 perches excised from state school reserve for road – probably the short road from Collins St., to the school boundary – giving easy access to school grounds for those coming from Sproat’s Water Hole area and further down the Port Road.
Nov. 1887 1st application for a teacher’s residence by Board of Advice.

If the building itself and the site had not pleased the community – the work within its wall was of very much higher standard. Miss E. Martin – a former student and later a teacher of this school has kindly offered this description. Readers may for themselves compare the changes in education today.
“I began my school life at State School No. 1645 Drysdale just after the mid 1890’s. Free and compulsory education had them been operating for not much longer than twenty years. There were three rooms in the school:- the Infant Room on the east side with, at its eastern end, a small gallery looking north to a door leading outside. The First and Second Classes occupied this room and used this doorway. In the middle, with windows on its north wall, was a gallery roo: the gallery faced west. The Third Class occupied this room. On the west side was one long room occupied by the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth classes. The furniture was meagre throughout. Each class had a blackboard and easel, and the desks were long and without backs.
The big room (as we called it) had a small desk and stool for the H.T. and two cupboards for books and materials. The only picture I remember was one of “Napoleon’s First Encounter with the French,” and that hung like an almanac. There were as well, two “Temperance Wall Sheets” and one of venomous snakes. Slates were used throughout the school, I suppose for economy. One exercise was sufficient for recorded work – mostly science. A large exercise with excellent quality paper cost threepence. There were copy books for writing lessons and drawing books. The Infant Room had a cupboard, a good sized table and two chairs.
The Curriculum for Class V1:- English Grammar and Arithmetic, each covering a wide range and both well taught, History, Geography, Elementary Science, Writing, Drawing, Singing and Needlework. Grammar included:- Detailed analysis, full parsing, conjugation of verbs, Declension of the personal pronoun, Relative pronouns, Sentence construction, Correction of Sentences, Degrees of Comparison, Progressive case – correct use of the apostrophe. Figure of Speech, Latin & Greek Roots and prefixes and suffixes.
Reading was from “The School Paper” which was published each month, and which contained extracts from good English writers interspersed with anecdotes and fables, and poems from English and Australian poets.

I do not remember a boy or girl who was unable to read fluently, intelligently and with enjoyment from “The School Paper.”
When the programme for Class V1 had been completed the District Inspector conducted an examination for the Certificate of Merit. Promotions were made throughout the school after this second yearly visit by the Inspector. This was a disadvantage in the routine followed at that time – we had not a uniform school year. Another disadvantage must have been that only thirty days’ attendance in the quarter was compulsory.
Home Work. There was some work to be done at home every night. Spelling was never missed. Roots and words formed from them were learned. On some nights there was an essay or a letter to write or a map to draw. There were occasional small celebrations – one during the Boer War, one to commemorate the opening of the First Commonwealth Parliament and later Empire Day.
We were reminded that we belonged to the British Empire. We were taught to be loyal. We were happy and content with simple pleasures and we had, perhaps unconsciously, an inborn sense of security and well-being.
In those early days the roads were 100% safe, there were no cars, and everyone was busy. There was no electricity so there were not the labour-saving devices of today. So Mother was busy at home ready to welcome us there when we returned from school.
At night after home work had been done there were games and reading, papers and books. Mother read books to us.
Children, who had followed that course, surely could not be classed as illiterate.
There were no High Schools in those early days, but Geelong had several private schools that taught to Matriculation standard and there were three big public schools. We were well catered for if we wished to continue study.”

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