Discovering their own history

Appin Public School celebrates their sesquicentenary


In May this year Appin Public School, with the financial assistance of the Unlocking Heritage Travel Subsidy, had the opportunity to bring their students to Sydney to visit Susannah Place Museum, one of The Rocks’ hidden historic treasures.

The children took part in an immersive education program called The Way We Were, exploring the row of terraces that characterise the lives and memories of the multicultural working class residents who had lived there from 1844, finishing with a visit to the authentic 1915 corner shop where boiled lollies and carpet beaters are still available for purchase. This excursion also gave them the opportunity to wander through cobbled laneways and visit other historical landmarks representative of the early years of the colony.

However this was not their first exposure to Australian history. Appin Public School was one of the first government funded schools established following the passing of the Public Schools Act in 1866, with their foundation stone being laid on the 19th July 1867. 150 years later the original sandstone building that housed both the school room and principal’s residence is still standing, now unoccupied and waiting on necessary restoration work.

Appin Public School principal, Vivian Harrison, commented that even though her students have this historically significant building on their school grounds they still did not relate to the important colonial history of their local area. After visiting The Rocks and Susannah Place Museum, the children became inspired to learn about their own local history once they realised the connection between their sandstone building and the historic buildings around Sydney Harbour.

Appin Public School will be marking its sesquicentenary at the beginning of December, including a ‘throughout the decades museum’ in their classrooms highlighting the changing face of education in Australia since 1867; and the old school building will be restored so that it can once again become an active part of Appin Public School.

The Unlocking Heritage Travel Subsidy assists NSW primary students to access quality education programs at Sydney Living Museums and National Parks and Wildlife Service sites. For more information and eligibility criteria visit  our Unlocking Heritage website or contact Jacky Dalton on (02) 8239 2306.

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