The early schools of St Kilda provide fascinating insights for anyone interested in schools and how our education system evolved. Prior to 1872 there were perhaps fifty schools clamouring for students in a loosely regulated system. Many quickly failed after a year or two. Others changed their names and/or relocated several times Teachers often shifted to other schools. Sister siblings such as the Goldsteins, Murphys, Mouchettes and Garrows banded together to teach. Private homes competed with churches and entrepreneurs. All one needed to hang out a shingle apparently were ‘good references’ but in a fashionable suburb like St Kilda it paid to be Swiss or French. Secular schools struggled in the face of zealous Catholic and Protestant congregations keen to bind the young to the faith. This eccentric crowd of auspices ended with the radical 1872 Education Act.
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