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CSA History

Origins

The first schools in Australia were Christian schools. Rev Richard Johnson, the first chaplain to the colony of New South Wales, established an Anglican school in 1793. Free “charity schools” run by other denominations gradually came into existence in the following decades.

19th Century

In 1872, Victoria became the first Australian state to pass an Education Act providing for free, secular (in the sense of non-sectarian) public education; other states followed suit in the following two decades. These government run public schools grew to dominate the educational landscape with non-government schooling largely limited to poorly funded Catholic parish schools and higher fee denominational schools.

20th Century

By the turn of the century affordable fee, Christian schools, staffed by Christians and teaching from a Biblical perspective were an established part of the education landscape. For the previous two decades they represented the fastest growing sector of schools. These schools were diverse. Geographically they were spread across Australia, mainly in outer metropolitan areas but also in regional, remote and very remote locations. The schools were community based, serving the local community where they were located, usually low-middle socio-economic groups but also some indigenous communities in more remote areas. Operating with a variety of governance structures some were the ministry of a local church, others having involvement from a number of churches, some parent groups and some with denominational links. While some focussed on serving church families others sought to serve the wider community, but all were committed to communicating the Gospel as an essential part of educating the whole child.

The current wave of affordable fee Christian schools have their origins in the 1960s and 1970s. The earliest of these tended to be where groups of Christian parents came together to start Christian schools, but in the mid-1970s local Protestant churches increasingly looked to start schools staffed by Christians and seeking to teach a Biblically based curriculum. The first Christian Community School, a predecessor organisation to Christian Schools Australia, commenced in 1976 and many other Christian schools followed in the later 1970s and early 1980s.

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