Compiled for OzSportsHistory by Brian Membrey

Ex-CDA comments, suggestions, criticisms

 School 824 : Memories, Grades and Teachers

During the years I attended, there were around 400 pupils at the school

Grades 1 to 4 - then nominally 6 to 9 year olds - were split to two classes, A and B   There was no implication that the kids in A were smarter than B and just how children were allocated to each class is unknown  From family names I can recall, there was no pattern of an alphabetic allocation - perhaps the names were simply drawn out of a hat   The photo mentioned of one of the fourth grade classes has 43 pupils - roughly equal boys and girls - and this is probably about what I remember for those years   

Grades 5 and 6 - 10 to perhaps 12 years - where the learning expectations were somewhat higher, were split to three classes with perhaps 25 - 28 in each

At the State School level at that time, teachers inherited a class in the first week of February until the week prior to Christmas and were responsible for all subjects - Readin', 'Ritin' and 'Rithmetic, with some geography and history (mostly Australian) also included   Specialised teachers of  music and arts only came into being at the first year of secondary education, but certainly not drama and some others perhaps common today.

Not sure whether it was Education Department policy or maybe just a sensible approach to nurturing the younger children, but from what I remember, all the Grade 1 and 2 teachers were female, but none after that.

I remember a few teacher's names including two unmarried sisters named Esmore who had control of my first and second grades; others recall a Miss Ryan and Mrs Gillespie,  

The Grade 1 and 2 classrooms were at the eastern end of the southern side, while Grade Three was the eastern end on the eastern end of the northern side, with later grades progressively extending westward, then along Hotham Street (interspersed by the headmaster's office and the staff room, then back down the southern side of what was effectively a U-shape building   [See the schematic, page 5]

The southern wing - that existing prior to the extensions of the early 1920’s, had class rooms either side of a corridor; the Hotham Street frontage ditto, with an "opportunity" classes for around eight to ten deemed require specialist tutoring, sometimes for one year, others for longer on the eastern side

The newer northern wing had rooms on the outer side and a glass-windowed corridor on the on the inside of the U   

Grade three was Ron McKenzie, then a modest V F L  footballer, four games with Collingwood in 1952 and one at Melbourne in 1953 (my year under him)   Fourth grade I cannot clearly bring to mind - it may have been a Mr Gillespie, who one correspondent recalls was “Giddy?” Behind his back - I recall the class room was on the north-western corner with the windows along Hotham Street

Fifth grade was Mr  Northey, probably my favourite (and of Wendy Frye Collier's), and I remember many of us in his class being pleased that he was promoted over the summer months and some of us finished up in his sixth grade class as well

Classes were co-educational, but boys sat with boys and girls sat with girls at the dual desks - I'm not sure whether that was school policy or just the fact that anything else would have seen he-and-she or alternativelt she-and-he mercilessly teased by class mates

Although the oldest, South Preston had even by then been far outstripped in terms of student population by the two-storey schools at Tyler Street, Bell Primary (Scotia Street) and West Preston

Headmaster for part of my time was Allan Hird, the grandfather of Essendon footballer and coach, James Hird   Hird senior played 102 games with Essendon as well as (earlier) 14 with Hawthorn and subsequently 38 with St  Kilda as captain-coach.

He was later captain-coach of Essendon Seconds, and served on the Essendon committee for several years before becoming President in 1969, a position which he held until 1975.  The Allan T. Hird Stand at "Windy Hill" is named in his honour. Professionally, he rose to the position of State Director of Education before he passed away in 2007 at the age of 88 years.