Education at the University of Sydney

A century of excellence

Blackfriars Nursery School 'practicum', circa 1907.

Practicum at Redfern Primary School, circa 1987.

Female trainee science teachers class, Blackfriars campus, 1910.

Sydney Teachers College students in 1910, outside Hereford House.

Female trainee English teachers class, Hereford House campus, 1910.

Male student PE teachers in Sydney Teachers College gymnasium, circa 1965.

The first chair in Education at the University was established in 1910, when Alexander Mackie, the principal of Sydney Teachers College (STC), became a professor in Education in the Faculty of Arts.

Education lectureships in the Faculty of Arts had been established some 10 years earlier, working closely with the state's first teacher-training colleges. In 1906 several colleges had merged to form STC at Blackfriars. Professor Mackie was Professor in Education and STC principal concurrently.

STC lectures were conducted mostly at Hereford House, Glebe, until 1922 when the college moved onto the grounds of the University (into the current Old Teachers College building).

Meanwhile, education continued to grow as a humanities discipline within the University. In 1940, the Education Department was established in the Faculty of Arts, and continued to be part of that faculty until 1986, when it became a faculty in its own right, comprising three schools: Teaching and Curriculum Studies; Educational Measurement, Psychology and Technology; and Social and Policy Studies in Education. The foundation dean was Professor Cliff Turney.

Despite its close physical and academic association with the University, STC remained independent of the University's governance until 1990 when the higher-education reforms of Federal Education Minister John Dawkins forced its integration into the Faculty of Education.

A decade earlier, also to conform to a Federal Government imperative, the college had become Sydney Institute of Education (SIE), one of five founding institutes within Sydney College of Advanced Education. The dissolution of colleges of advanced education in 1989 meant the 'cohabitation' that had begun nearly six decades earlier between the University and the Sydney Teachers College was finally 'consummated', with the 'family home' for the greatly enlarged Faculty of Education expanding in 1994 with the opening of two new buildings adjacent to the refurbished Old Teachers College.

The most recent restructure was implemented in 2003: the various schools were dissolved, along with the School of Social Work from the Faculty of Arts, and the faculties and administrations from both disciplines were merged to become the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

The merger reflected the close association between Education and Social Work within the University and the often overlapping research interests and units of study, particularly in the area of policy and practice. As well, it provided much more certainly of resourcing than had been possible for the comparatively diminutive field of social work within the Faculty of Arts behemoth.