The opening ceremony took place in the infants’ schoolroom, which was “tastefully decorated” with flowers. The young children went through a “delightfully pleasant singing and gesticulating exercise” and then all sang the Song of Australia. The Governor Sir William Jervois, the minister of education, the attorney-general, parliamentarians, city councillors, an archdeacon and other city notables attended.
Commenting on what seemed to be too much money spent on one school when there were already others in the city, the Honourable Thomas King (minister of education) remarked that the recently introduced Compulsory Education Act of 1875 had produced a voluntary return to school of 750 of a known 900 children who had not been attending school, which proved the money had been well spent.
The Gothic-derived style of this building with its gabled roof was typical of Woods’ school designs. This one was built of bluestone with brick quoins and dressings. There was much attention to the ventilation system, while the windows were tall, arched and extremely narrow. Some were square headed but none let in much light. Along with most of Woods’ Gothic school windows, they were later modified to allow more light. Only the windows on the north-facing facade are unchanged.
The school had a typical layout for the period. It segragated the sexes, infants and babies by classroom as well as on the playground. The boys’ classrooms were on the first floor and all the others on the ground floor.
The front of the building has had minor alterations. It lost the belltower, and its dressings and quoins were painted. There were extensive alterations in 1924-25 at the rear. In 1988 efforts began to remove paintwork from the brick dressings and quoins.
Like several of the city’s school buildings, the old primary school has housed a variety of educational institutions. It was opened as the City Model School in 1878, and renamed the East Adelaide Model School in the following year and the Flinders Street Public School in 1885. It was a primary school until 1969, when it became the Flinders Street Adult Education Centre. It has remained a tertiary institution, becoming the Adelaide College of Further Education, School of Music, in 1978.