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Development of State secondary schools 1912-1957

The huge task of bringing secondary education to all Queensland children was finally tackled in 1912. The State undertook to establish a free high school in places with a likely attendance of 25 qualified students, provided that there was no other provision for State-aided secondary education (such as grammar schools) in these places. High schools were opened in six centres - Charters Towers, Gympie, Mt Morgan, Warwick, Bundaberg and Mackay - in 1912, while secondary departments were attached to the primary schools at Herberton, Gatton and Childers. General, commercial and domestic science courses were offered.

Building and scenic grounds of Gympie State High School.

Photograph: Gympie State High School (1924).

These facilities were extended gradually to other parts of the State over the next twelve years. Between 1913 and 1918, new secondary departments were opened at Dalby, Kingaroy, Pittsworth, Southport, Wynnum Central and Emerald. Separate high schools were opened at Roma and Brisbane (1920) and Cairns and Townsville (1924). The Secondary Departments connected with the Brisbane Central Boys’ and the Brisbane Central Girls’ Schools were amalgamated from the 1st January, 1920 and designated ‘The Brisbane Junior High School’. In 1921 this school was merged with high school classes at the Central Technical College to form the Brisbane State High School. In 1924 it moved to its present site adjacent to Musgrave Park, South Brisbane.

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By 1924 there were five high school sections attached to technical colleges (Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Bowen, Ipswich and Central), making a total of 22 State secondary schools in Queensland. The next year, 1925, the technical, commercial and domestic science secondary sections of the Central Technical College were each given high school status and subsequently became separate high schools.

From 1925 until the later 1930s there was little expansions in secondary education, one significant reason being the depressed economic conditions of much of this period. Though several new secondary departments were provided, Ayr state High School, opened in 1937, was the only new high school. In 1936, the Maryborough Grammar Schools for Girls and Boys were taken over by the Department.

Photo of the former building for the Maryborough Grammar School.

Photograph: Opened in prosperous times in 1883, the Maryborough Grammar School was taken over by the Department of Education in 1936 to become the Maryborough State High and Intermediate School for Boys.

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An important development after 1928 was the creation of intermediate schools as links between primary and high schools. These schools, created in the wake of the 1927 Hadow Report in England, drew children aged 12 years from a ring of contributing primary schools. They offered a two-year course, with appropriate attention to science, manual training, domestic science, and the predominant economic interests of the local area. In retrospect, the intermediate school concept did not work very well, mainly because of the expense and organisational problems involved in providing separate schools for a two-year course. In 1936 there were only two separate intermediate schools in Queensland, though intermediate classes were attached to a number of high schools.

The first suburban, multilateral (offering a variety of courses) State high schools in Brisbane were opened at Wynnum in 1942 and Cavendish Road in 1952. Country high schools have always been multilateral, mainly because the size of their localities would not permit the provision of separate schools similar to the Commercial, Domestic Science and industrial High Schools in Brisbane.

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Last reviewed
10 January 2013
Last updated
10 January 2013