Higher Primary School, Aldinga Road, Willunga

By 1875, a new Education Act introduced education for children aged 7 to 13 and established state schools. Thomas Noyé was appointed as the first Head Teacher when the Willunga Public School opened in 1877 on Aldinga Road, on the site of the present tennis club. Mr Noye had used the Primitive Methodist Chapel as a schoolroom from 1875 until the District Council provided the school.

In 1947, it became a Higher Primary School, catering for pupils to Grade 11 until 1960.

In 1951 portable classrooms for Grades 3 to 7 were placed on the land where the Primary school now stands and school was run across the two sites, with the oval in the middle. This land was originally purchased for a High School but it was not until 1960 that the Secondary students moved to the new Willunga High School when it opened on the site where it still stands. Until then, with classes in the headmaster’s office, the Show Hall library and the school library, conditions were described as primitive and the headmaster was exhausted from all the traipsing back and forth across the oval.

A DEMAC was opened in Book Week 1976 as the school’s new library. At the start of that year, there were 220 students and the Department appointed the school’s first Deputy Principal. The DEMAC later became the OSCH building , which in 2018 was updated and remodelled.

In 1986 the Smith and Vickery buildings were opened. The red brick Smith building is named after Charlotte Smith, who was teaching privately in Willunga by 1862. In 1868 she built a new schoolroom, now demolished, next to the Show Hall. When the Public School opened in 1877, the Council closed her school, which catered for 70 girls. Charlotte became Head Teacher at McLaren Vale Public School and her building was bought for £400 to become the Willunga Headmaster’s residence. A correspondent described her as a highly educated and an excellent teacher who ran a very efficient school.

The Vickery building is named after Ed Vickery OAM, who was Principal in the 1960s. He was noted for his enthusiasm, extensive general knowledge and love for children. His passion for Australian plants encouraged the students to grow and plant many of the native trees standing in the school grounds and the town.

The newer buildings that make up most of the present school were opened in 2007.

References:

Matthews A 1977 Willunga Public School – a centenary history. Willunga Primary School Centenary Committee, SA

1877 ‘SIR WILLIAM JERVOIS AT WILLUNGA.’, South Australian Register, 9 October, p. 1. (Supplement to the South Australian Register.), viewed 12 Jan 2024,

1877 ‘COUNCIL OF EDUCATION‘, South Australian Register, 18 December, p. 5. , viewed 12 Jan 2024,

1878 ‘THE EDUCATION QUESTION AND THE WILLUNGA SCHOOL.’, South Australian Register , 22 July, p. 6. , viewed 12 Jan 2024,

Willunga National Trust – papers and documents available at the Willunga Courthouse.

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