Teacher's Training School including Northern and Western Boundary Walls

Teacher's Training School including Northern and Western Boundary Walls

In his annual report for 1876, the then Minister of Education stated: “It is generally admitted that a school for the higher education of girls is much required, and we wish to point out that if the necessary expenditure should be sanctioned by Parliament, such a school could be established under the powers conferred upon us by the Education Act.”

The Council of Education was prepared to set up a school if enough parents responded to its advertisement. It received 33 names of potential scholars, and found temporary accommodation in a doctor’s two-storey home on Franklin Street. The school opened there on October 7, 1879, with Miss Jane Staines as headmistress.

At first this school was the colonial government’s only contribution to secondary education. Boys were not provided for until 1908, although there were some government scholarships to take primary school boys to private secondary schools.

Another factor in the school’s formation was the opening of the adjacent Teachers’ Training College a few years before in 1876. This led to the need for more secondary-educated girls to train as teachers. As female teachers were paid far less than males, the administration favoured them.

It was also a matter of the simple pressure of numbers. When primary education became compulsory after the 1875 Education Act, schools were soon “clogged up at their top end (the 5th class) with girl students who had nowhere else to go to continue an education”.

The government intended that the school would support itself by charging fees. This applied even after the Act of 1891 introduced free education for primary schooling. The only expense it planned the construction of a school building, and one was designed in 1890.

Miss Rees George, the headmistress for 22 years from 1885, advised on the planning. The superintendent of Public Buildings, C.E. Owen Smyth, designed the brick two-storey school and it was built in 1891 for £2533 by J.J. Leahy. It had 11 rooms, with five classrooms and a dining room. It was a functional building with high windows, surrounded in stone reveals, sills and corbel stones, and is of no particular architectural significance.

Owen Smyth also designed the first part of the Art Gallery of South Australia and the north wing of the museum. Like these two other buildings, the school was urgently needed but built when government funds were hard to obtain. Owen Smyth designed what he thought was best for the funds available.

In 1902 W. Ling and Son built a music room with a hipped roof over the ground-floor kitchen. Since then, the building’s exterior has remained unchanged.

In 1908 the Continuation School for boys was established. It occupied both school buildings to the west of the Advanced School for Girls. Later in that year the Continuation School and the Advanced School for Girls amalgamated as the Adelaide High School. Although it was now co-educational, boys and girls were still segregated. The school stayed on this site until 1917, when increasing numbers of pupils created a need for more space.

In 1917 the school rented accommodation from the Church of Christ. In 1928 it found more space at the Printer’s Trade School, on the corner of Morphett and Gouger streets. A year later, the ground floor of the Currie Street School was used by several classes of boys. By 1931 the whole of Currie Street School was taken over as part of the boys school. In 1939 four more classes were located in “the factory”, as the Printers Trade School was sometimes known, opposite the former Grote Street Model School.

In 1951, the new Adelaide Boys’ High School opened on West Terrace. The girls continued to occupy the three school buildings on Grote Street, to be known as the Adelaide Girls’ High School.

In 1976 the government decided to amalgamate both schools and return to the former name of Adelaide High School. The first intake of girls began in 1977 and by 1979 the remainder of the girls’ school had been transferred to the West Terrace premises.

Still used by the Education Department, it is now the Centre for Performing Arts.


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The former Advanced School for Girls has unique historical significance as the first state secondary school and the first school for girls beyond primary level. It is an integral part of a group of three school buildings showing the different forms of education before, during, and after the Education Act of 1875.

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Images of Teacher's Training School including Northern and Western Boundary Walls

  • Adelaide Teachers College
Edward Woods
Brown and Thompson
Building materials
Brick, Iron, Wrought iron, Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.13 Tudor (Jacobethan)
1875 -  

Additional Works

First Floor built bu Contractor J Ashman

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
Edward Woods, oriel window, arch, string course
Engineering features
South West Corner
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Government of South Australia
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Education, Training
AS2482 classification
18100 - Historic Sites (unclassified)
Public Access
Business/trading hours
307, 821
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5881/473 D59864 A2
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
5.2 State Government
5.2.1 Creating State Government Institutions and Facilities
7.1 Schools
7.2 Technical Training and Further Education
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • Adelaide Girls' High School Magazine, December 1951; Adelaide High School, 75th anniversary souvenir book, 1983; Department of Housing and Construction Plan Room, HD
  • 845-6; Jones, H., 'Pinnacle of the state school system: the Advanced School for Girls, Adelaide' in Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society (ANZHES) Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1975, p. 6; MLSA, Bierbaum files, Historical photographs (Town Acres 329-
  • 330); Menzies, H., 'Adelaide Girls High closes and century of education ends' in South Australian Teachers Journal, 7 March 1979, p. 21; PRO, GRG 18/93, Records of the Board of Education, annual reports of the minister for the year 1876, p. 4; SAPD, 14 October 1890, col. 1537.

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