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Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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School 824 : Memories, Grades and Teachers


Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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 including music and arts, but certainly not drama and some others perhaps common today only came into being at the first year of secondary education.

I remember a few teacher's names including two unmarried sisters named Esmore who had control of my first and second grades; 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).  

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.  

Fourth grade I cannot clearly bring to mind - it may have been a Mr Gillespie (“Giddy?”) - 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 (an of Weny Frye Collier's), and I remember many of us in his class being pleased that he was promoted over the summer months and most 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 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.