Brisbane East State School

Name: Brisbane East State School

Time: 1899 - Current

Epoch: Late 19th Century

Category: State Primary School

Institution Category: Education

Institution Group: Primary

Coordinates: -27.4865283333333, 153.039471666667

Street Address: 56 Wellington Rd, East Brisbane

Suburb: East Brisbane

Sector: State

Local Study Area: Kangaroo Point-East Brisbane

Study Stage: MBSH Stage 3 Local Study Areas

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In the nineteenth century, no school site had been deemed necessary for Mowbraytown or Wooloongabba. The tramline reaching East Brisbane in 1897 caused a local population explosion. The colonial government’s Department of Public Instruction had a new-style, large brick school built on Wellington Road in 1899. Such was the population pressure that it had to be extended in 1901. It acquired a playshed in 1908, a separate infants school in 1910 and major wing extensions during 1937-39. The school has a distinctive turreted bell tower and in 1910 it was gifted the S.S. Melbourne ship’s bell by the Australasian United Stean Navigation Company. Postwar expansion of Brisbane’s outer suburb’s led to a decline in enrolments but immigration increased muticultural enrolments. Its name changed to East Brisbane State School in 1994. Although Queensland education was influenced by the earlier establishment of National and Normal school system primary education was shaped by the Department of Public Instruction under the Education Act of 1875, whereby:

Primary education for children aged from 6 to 12 was to be compulsory.(This provision was not fully implemented until 1900.)

Education was to be secular, i.e. under the control of the State. (Inconformity with this policy, all assistance to non-vested schools was withdrawn in 1880. This provision occasioned considerable ill-feeling among Roman Catholics and some Anglicans.)

Primary education was to be free.

A Department of Public Instruction was established to administer the Act.

The colonial curriculum drew on reading, writing, and arithmetic (the ‘3Rs), with object lessons (‘show and tell’ lessons), drill and gymnastics, and vocal music were supposed to be taught, but in practice these relatively new subjects were often ignored or poorly taught. Geography, needlework, grammar, history and mechanics were also included in the curriculum at various levels. While some of these subjects were included for their practical usefulness, the main criterion for inclusion of subjects in the curriculum was not their practical value, but their value in disciplining (‘sharpening’) mental faculties such as ‘memory’ and ‘reasoning’.

By 1905, when important syllabus changes were made, the value of subjects was increasingly assessed in terms of their everyday usefulness, and ‘learning by doing’ was stressed. The child rather than the teacher, was becoming the centre of the learning process, at least in theory. These changes in the philosophy of education, combined with attempts to mould the content and methods of teaching to the peculiar geographic conditions of Queensland, were major influences on education for the next six decades.

Geographic Description 1: Inside The Green Belt

Geographic Description 2: Brisbane River; Norman Creek

Geographic Description 3: Flood Gullies; Hills


Department of Enviroment & Heritage Protection, Qld Heritage Register citation No.601176; Entry extracted from Queensland Department of Education document, Primary Education, undated.

Image Citations

East Brisbane State School, Wellington Road, c 1899. Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 2695