Skip links and keyboard navigation

Empire Day in Queensland state schools

British imperial sentiments, so foreign to children today, were fostered in Queensland state schools through the syllabus including school readers, school papers and history textbooks of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These sentiments were celebrated through the observance of Empire Day and Trafalgar Day.

Empire Day was a formal commemoration of the British Empire and its member nations. The day itself and the accompanying celebrations throughout the Empire acted as symbols of unity, supremacy and philanthropy and commemorated the Empire's birthday. Loyalty and patriotism were encouraged.

On the appointed day, usually in late May each year, teachers in Queensland schools gave special lessons on the growth, freedom, rights and privileges enjoyed by the Empire's citizens. Through these lessons, children were reminded of the vastness of the British Empire and the rights Australians as members experienced as a consequence. The lessons were also used to stimulate patriotic sentiment among pupils.

Essay competitions were inaugurated in 1906 as part of the celebrations with topics related to the Empire and its member nations. Prizes were awarded to the winning school and essay writer. The day was also remembered through cadet shooting competitions in the larger schools.

^ Top of page

Last reviewed
10 January 2013
Last updated
10 January 2013