We hold many public school admission registers, which document children's school admission and attendance from the 1870s to the 1990s. Records from different schools are regularly transferred to our custody. We also hold limited examination results from the Public Examinations Board from the 1890s to the 1960s.

We also hold records about the establishment of public schools and their administration. We rarely hold school photographs or year books. The State Library of South Australia holds published works produced by schools.

Access conditions

School admission registers are open for general public access after 30 years to 31 December from the last year noted in the record. Individuals seeking access to their own record are entitled to access prior to the 30 years.

School journals, examination results and disciplinary matters are usually open after 60 years to 31 December from the last year noted in the record.

Digitised records

Many of our school admission registers are available online through FamilySearch. You can search by pupil name within the collection: Australia, South Australia, School Admission Registers, 1873-1985 (you will need to sign up for a free account) .

Not all school admission registers have been digitised and published. You can view original registers at our Research Centre or ask us for a digital copy through our Copying and Digitisation Services.

Finding your own records

State Records only holds admission registers for Public Schools.  For Private Schools contact the school directly.

Public Schools

The Department for Education provide a service where they can inspect school records on your behalf if you are not able to visit the State Records Research Centre to inspect original records yourself. Contact the Department for Education Information Release Unit for further information on this service, call (08) 8226 3231 or email Education.InformationRelease@sa.gov.au.

Some admission registers are held in our collection. See 'Researching the records' below for how to search our collection.

If you have left school in the past 15 years, contact your school, as they may still have the admission registers. If the school has closed or does not hold the records contact the Department for Education Information Release Unit.


You may also wish to contact the SACE Board of South Australia who can assist with access to SACE certificates, Senior Secondary Certificates, Matriculation, Leaving and Intermediate Certificates.


To obtain past TAFE SA results and qualifications see www.tafesa.edu.au, or call 1800 882 661. If applying for a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE SA, first clarify requirements for the application by contacting TAFE SA on (08) 8417 0501.

Nursing Registration

If you are applying for nursing registrations complete the TELG-40 form on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website, rather than sourcing school admission information.

Researching the records

You can search for school admission registers on our catalogue ArchivesSearch to see if we hold the records.

Use a Keyword Search for the name of the school and "AND school". For example, to find records of Port Augusta primary or high schools type: Augusta AND school

You can then check whether the records have been published by FamilySearch, or order the records in our Research Centre, or ask us for a copy of the records using our Copying and Digitisation service.

Some registers are only available to view on microfilm in our Research Centre because we do not hold the original registers.

Types of records

School admission registers are among the most useful records we hold for family and social history. 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 history groups, or may not have survived.

Other types of records which may be of use include: inspector's registers, punishment books, school journals and examination results. These types of records are usually restricted from general public access for 60 years to 31 December from the last year noted in the record.

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 promoted 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 admission registers, inspector's registers and punishment books. Inspectors' registers and admission registers are the most commonly held records in our collection.

Page last updated: 27 June 2023