Teacher education


Until 1905 most teachers in government schools were trained on the job as pupil-teachers. Most pupil-teachers began their four-year course between the ages of 13 and 16; during school hours they taught a class full-time, and for an hour or so each day, out of school hours, they were instructed in teaching method and content by the head teacher. Preference for entrance to the training schools was given to pupil-teachers who had completed their course, but many graduating pupil-teachers immediately became teachers or assistant teachers.

On the job training

From the 1860s to 1905 many candidates for appointment to small bush schools - the Provisional, Half-Time and House to House Schools of the system - were either untrained or received their training through instruction and observation, over a period ranging from several weeks to several months, at a larger Public School.

Promotion system till 1943

In 1854 a system of classifying and promoting teachers was devised which remained in force for primary school teachers until 1943. In order to progress beyond the minimum salary level and advance in the service, teachers had to pass a series of examinations set by the Department as well as demonstrating their efficiency to inspectors. The teacher's certificate introduced in 1943 was awarded to all new teachers after appropriate pre-service training and a probationary period, and no further qualifications were demanded.

Teachers' colleges

The training of primary school teachers was controlled by the Department of Education until 1970, when the process of converting teachers colleges into autonomous colleges of advanced education was begun. From 1911 most secondary school teachers undertook a university degree course followed by a university diploma of education or a one-year professional course at a teachers college. No attempt has been made in these notes to cover the courses offered in the universities or colleges of advanced education.


Training school at Fort Street opened, standard length of training period 1 month.

Pupil-teacher system began at Fort Street.

Classification and promotion system introduced.

Pupil-teacher system extended to all schools where the head teacher was sufficiently qualified and the average attendance exceeded 70 (reduced to 50 in 1861).

Standard course at Fort Street remained 1 month, but small number of prospective teachers received up to 3 months training; this trend continued to 1866.

Period of training 1 month, 3 months or 6 months; 3-month course was standard.

Period of training extended to 6 months. From 1876 those who showed promise received 12 months.

Period of training 12 months for most students. Residential training school for women opened at Hurlstone, leaving Fort Street Training School for men only.

Period of training 12 months, or for those who showed promise 2 years; for small elite a 3-year course available leading to BA degree.


Pupil-teacher system phased out over next 3 to 4 years. Admission to teaching service henceforth through the training college, with 2-year course as standard and 3 years for those who showed special ability. A 1-year course was still available for students wishing to be appointed to small bush schools. Fort Street Training School closed in March 1905 and Hurlstone Training School in December 1905. They were amalgamated to form Sydney Teachers College, first located in buildings at Blackfriars Public School and from 1925 at Sydney University.

Hereford House at Glebe operated as annexe of Sydney Teachers College from 1911 to 1924; it offered 6-month short course for students prior to appointment to small bush schools. Diploma of Education, a 12-month post-graduate course for students intending to teach in secondary schools, introduced at Sydney University.

Short course at Hereford House extended to 12 months.

Armidale Teachers College opened.

Twelve-month course discontinued; 2-year course standard for all primary school teachers.

Twelve-month course conducted as an emergency measure during 1936-37, in addition to 2-year course.

Teacher's Certificate replaced old system of classification of teachers.

Balmain Teachers College opened. It was followed by Wagga Wagga (1947), Newcastle (1949), Bathurst (1951), Alexander Mackie (1958) and Wollongong (1962).


Minimum primary school training course raised from 2 to 3 years. Westmead Teachers College opened.

Goulburn and Lismore Teachers Colleges opened. Bathurst Teachers College absorbed into new Mitchell College of Advanced Education.

All teachers colleges had either been established as corporate colleges of advanced education or had moved to some degree of autonomy prior to becoming independent of the Department of Education.

The binary system of universities and colleges of advanced education was replaced by the Unified National System which incorporated colleges of advanced education into existing universities or formed new universities out of several colleges. As a result all teacher training was now delivered by universities.

The New South Wales government established the NSW Institute of Teachers to guarantee the quality of teachers in NSW schools.