Most records relating to schools were created by the Colonial Secretary’s Office (GRG24), the Central Board of Education (GRG50), the Education Department (GRG18) and individual schools (various government agencies).
Early schools 1836 - 1847
The South Australian School Society (the Society) was formed in 1836, to promote occupational training and higher branches of learning. Frustrated by poor economic conditions, the Society ceased operations in 1843. Other early schools included Miss Nihill's Ladies' School and a school established by the Rev. T. Q. Stow, first Minister of the Congregational Church. Lutheran missionaries from Dresden started the first school for Aboriginal children in 1839.
Public education 1847 onwards
In 1847 an Ordinance was passed which authorised a government salary per pupil to teachers whose schools had at least twenty pupils enrolled. Parents were still required to pay school fees.
The Education Act 1851 aimed to promote education by the payment of salaries to teachers, the erection of school buildings, the establishment of a book depot and the inspection of assisted schools. No records of pupil admissions appear to have survived from this period, although the Central Board of Education minutes and correspondence provide evidence of teachers and other school matters.
The modern system of compulsory school attendance and the payment of teacher’s salaries by the State began in 1875. Regulations introduced in 1885 required head teachers to keep records including:
programmes of studies
visitors’ books, and
- punishment books.
Inspectors' registers and admission registers have survived in the greatest quantities.
School admission registers
Among the most useful records that State Records holds for family and social history are the school admission registers created by government schools. These registers follow a standard format and contain some or all of the following information: date of admission of student; date of birth of student; name of parent or guardian; home address of student; name and dates of previous school/s attended; and date and reason for leaving the current school.
Not all admission registers created by government primary and secondary schools are in State Records’ custody. Some may still be held by schools, by local historical groups, or may not have survived to the current day.
State Records also holds microfiche copies of admission registers for over 300 public schools, for which we do not hold the original hard copy registers. These are accessible in our Research Centre at Gepps Cross.
Admission registers are open after 30 years, however, individuals have a right of access to their own register entries regardless of date (identification requirements apply).
People may be entitled to information regarding their attendance at school in order to:
prove the date of admission or grade of leaving
gain entry to TAFE or University
enter the defence forces
for immigration purposes, or
- establish pension rights.
Requests falling into these categories are known as ‘personal entitlement requests’, which State Records handles as a priority. If State Records holds the relevant register, applicants can be provided with a copy of the record of their enrolment, and a letter confirming dates of enrolment at the school. If we do not hold the relevant register, we will refer applicants to another source of information. Applicants who have left school within five years should contact the school first.
Student reports and results
State Records does not hold student reports or results. These records may be held by the school. The SACE Board of South Australia can assist with access to SACE certificates, Senior Secondary Certificates, Matriculation, Leaving, Leaving Honours and Intermediate Certificates. Website: www.sace.sa.edu.au.
The Records Management Services Unit of the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) may also be able to assist.
Email: DECD.RecordsManagementUnit@sa.gov.au or phone: (08) 8226 1226.
To obtain past TAFE results and qualifications see www.tafesa.edu.au, or call TAFE SA on 1800 882 661.
Need further assistance?
If you require any assistance with your research, please contact a Reference Officer by:
- visiting State Records' Research Centre
- completing the online enquiry form available on our website
- calling us on +61 8 8343 6800.
This Fact Sheet can also be downloaded in PDF format - Schools pdf 325.34kb.