Education and School Records

The State Records Office holds records that have been transferred from the Education Department of Western Australia (as well as predecessor and related agencies) and from individual government schools.

Education Department

Perth Girls School, 1949, East Perth, [816B/C/2759] [000237D] A small population, economic uncertainties, and denominational rivalries mitigated against the development of a comprehensive education system in Western Australia during the early years of the Colony. It was not until 1847 that the first education authority, the General Board of Education, was established to oversee the development of the Colony's schools. The General Board of Education established a secular Girls' School and a Boys' School in Perth, opened government assisted schools in rural districts, and provided subsidies to Roman Catholic schools in the Colony.

The Education Department as we know it began operation in 1893 following amendments to the Elementary Education Act of 1871 which abolished the Central Board of Education (previously the General Board of Education) and appointed a Minister of Education in its place. Under the 1893 Act, the Minister was empowered to appoint and dismiss teachers; schools were classified; teachers were graded; teachers' positions were defined, and a salary scale for teachers implemented. The Act abolished school fees, provided for co-educational schools, and made attendance compulsory for children between the ages of six and fourteen years.

Files - General

The most extensive collection of Education Department records is the General Files series, which spans from 1885 to the present. These records may pertain to individual schools or to other more general educational matters such as education policy and operations.

  • Buildings and Works Files
    Buildings and works files relate mainly to an individual school or school buildings (eg. new buildings, accommodation for the teacher, repairs, renovations, etc). The files can contain correspondence from teachers, the Education Department, parents, inspectors and tradesmen.
  • Attendance Files
    These files are not, as their name suggests, attendance records for any particular school. The files provide statistics on the daily or weekly attendance or non-attendance of children at the school. The matter of attendance has sometimes been crucial to actually having a school in some of the smaller country areas. If attendance fell below a certain level, the school may have been closed or its status altered from a full-time to a part-time school. The files can contain correspondence from parents, teachers, the Education Department, inspectors and attendance forms, which may give the names of children attending a particular school.
  • Other Files
    Other Education Department files can relate to the establishment of a school, school inspection reports, cleaning, complaints, staff and accommodation, school holidays and functions, removal of schools to a new site, erection of quarters, a change of name for a school, formation of school boards, matters affecting technical colleges etc.

Staff Records

Registers and record of service cards for both teaching and non-teaching staff employed by the Education Department are available for the period 1892 to 1970.

The following are selected examples of staff registers accessible on microfilm in the State Records Office Microforms Area.

  • Record of Service Registers - Teaching Staff, 1892-1915, Acc 1036, Items 1-12, AN 45
    Record of Service Registers for teaching staff throughout the State showing the name of teacher, date of birth, marital status, number of children, religion, record of service and summary of performance.
  • Record of Service Registers - Non-Teaching Staff, 1894-1935, Acc 1036, Item 17, AN 45
  • Teaching Staff Registers, 1952-1954, Acc 1036, Item 18, AN 45/6
    Arranged by school, A-L only.
  • Commencement Books, 1934-1937, Acc 1036, Item 13, AN 45/6
  • Resignation Books; Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff, 1940-46, 1951-1954, Acc 1036, Item 15, AN 45
  • Record of Service Cards, 1906 - 1970, Series 132, Consignment 3512 & 3549
  • Individual Record of Service Cards for teachers throughout the State showing the name of teacher, date of birth and employment history.

Some further records, such as student teacher records of examinations and registers of graduates, are held for Claremont Teachers College and Mount Lawley Teachers College.

Staff related records can also be found among the General Files of the Education Department . The State Records Office also holds Personal Files for some individuals, however these records have a restricted access period.

School Records

The State Records Office holds records from over 400 individual primary, secondary and special schools.

The main categories of school records that have been transferred to the State Records Office comprise:

Student Admission Cards
Admission cards record the name of the student, the date of admission, the date of birth, the name and occupation of parent/guardian and religious denomination.

Student Admission Registers
These registers were often used prior to the introduction of student admission cards. They record the student's name, the date of admission, the date of birth, residence, place of birth, the school last attended, the standard last passed, the name of the parent/guardian, the date of withdrawal from school, the reason for withdrawal, the standard passed and to what school removed.

School Journals
School journals are the headmaster's/headmistress's diary of events and activity at the school.

Inspector's Reports
Inspector's Reports are a record of the District Superintendent's summary of the standard of the school. Inspections were usually made on a twice-yearly basis.

Punishment Books
Punishment books are a record of punishment (eg. reprimand, caning) meted out to students. They record the name of the student, the date, the amount and instrument of punishment, by whom administered and additional remarks.

Other records that can be located for individual schools include: teachers' time books, visitors' books, and general correspondence.

Records transferred to the State Records Office by individual schools can be located through the hard copy alphabetical index located in the AN 45 finding aid available at the State Records Office or online under the name of the required school.

School at No. 6 Group (Nuralingup) near Augusta, Teacher John T. Tonkin (far left) later became Premier of WA, 1924-1926. [000884D]District School Boards

The Elementary Education Act 1871 authorized the formation of district school boards, which were subordinate to the Central Board of Education. The district boards consisted of five members elected by local rate-payers for three year terms. District boards were responsible for the general supervision of all schools within their districts, for the appointment of teachers, and for the attendance of school-age children.

The records held by the State Records Office relating to district school boards include the following:

Tertiary Education Institutions

In addition to school records the State Records Office also holds a limited number of archival records created by the State's tertiary education institutions, including universities, technical colleges, TAFE campuses and teacher's colleges.

Records held for these institutions include:

See also further information on architectural records.

Other Education Related Records

The records of numerous education related government agencies, both past and present, are held by the State Records Office. These agencies include organisations such as the Western Australian Teacher's Registration Board, the Secondary Education Authority, the Department of Technical and Further Education, the Board of Secondary Education and the Western Australian Tertiary Education Board, to name but a few.

Further Information

The following publications held by the Battye Library are highly recommended. Although these publications do not deal with student names they can provide assistance in tracing teachers whereabouts and in identifying opening and closing dates for particular schools.

  • Education Circular / Education Department, (1898-1994).
  • Schools and Staffing / Education Department, (1970-1996).
  • Western Australian Schools 1830-1980 / John Rikkers, (1984)
    Contains details of teachers such as names and where they taught, as well as opening and closing dates for schools.

State Records Office staff at the Enquiry Desk can provide additional information on the range of education and school related records available from within the State Records Office collection. For more information contact us by telephone on (08) 9427 3600, by facsimile on (08) 9427 3368, via email at or in person.