150 years of public education in Victoria

In 2022 we mark 150 years of public education in Victoria. Let's celebrate a shared belief that every child deserves a high-quality education, regardless of background or economic circumstance.

As Victorians, there is a long-held belief that every child deserves a high-quality education, regardless of their background. It is a belief worth acknowledging and celebrating, so come and celebrate with us.

Why is the anniversary important?

  • The Education Act of 1872 was the first of its kind in the world.
  • The first in the Australian colonies.
  • Education was free and compulsory, so the whole community would benefit.
  • All children aged 6-15 years had to attend school unless they had a reasonable excuse.
  • Education was secular. That meant there was no control by any church.
  • In the last 150 years, a lot has changed. But public education remains a vital part of the Victorian community. This includes our schools, TAFES, kindergartens, libraries and archives.
  • Victoria's oldest school - which is still in operation today - in Bacchus Marsh Primary School. It was built in the traditional Country of the Wada Wurrung people and opened in 1850. Europeans first arrived in the Country of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong peoples 15 years earlier in 1835. This area is now known as greater Melbourne.

Education Week 2022

This year, Education Week will focus on 150 years of public education. This will be an opportunity for all schools to commemorate the past, celebrate the present and imagine the future of education. Resources will be available to help schools and local history organisations record or update their own histories.

Education Week 2022 graphic showing children going to school

How to get involved

Throughout 2022, many stories will be told of Victoria's history of great education over the last 150 years. We will share stories, videos and artefacts that will be available on our website and our social media. For example, you will be able to learn more about Koorie education and the Koorie education workforce who have led the way. You can also discover how the role of women in education has changed over the last 150 years.

We are also digitally preserving the historical records of the 483 Victorian schools that have been in existence since 1872. In the coming months, each of these schools will have a school profile with a short history and a selection of their archived records available to view.

So come celebrate with us. Bookmark this page to come back and visit throughout the year.


Can you share your school memories with us?

If you have any photos, videos or artefacts from our 150 years of public education history, please let us know by emailing your school memories.