"Out of the Swamp"
1896 - 1900Our story begins on 17 January 1896 when Henry Beazley of Wells Road, Carrum (now know as Chelsea Heights), wrote a letter to the Department of Education expressing his concern about the lack of education for twelve children in the area. He requested either an establishment of local school or transport to the nearest school situated at Mordialloc, a distance of about five miles away.On 6th February 1900 the school know as Number 3341 opened in Carrum (later known as Chelsea Heights Primary School). The first Head Teacher was Miss Kate Boardman with an enrolment of thirty six students.
The curriculum for the school was based on the 1896 Course of Free Instruction and consisted of grammar, geography, writing, composition, reading, arithmetic, history, dictation, spelling, recitation, general lesson, needlework, singing, drawing, physical exercises and gymnastics where practical.
1900 – 1945The first forty-five years of Chelsea Heights Primary School saw many events. With two World Wars and the depression there was a period of readjustment. These events touched the lives of all Australians and had some influence of the school’s development.
The area’s geographical features imposed their own peculiar problems. The swampy nature of the area plagued the school. The school was closed on 23-25 April 1901 due to floods making access impossible, in wet weather this became a regular occurrence.
The earliest Pupil Register that has been found begins in July 1907, seven years into the school’s history. The school community was composed of a small number of families most of which lived on farms in Wells Road. The world slump of 1929 hit Australia very hard, with many Australian primary products collapsing and unemployment rising. By 1931 there were only thirteen children attending the school.
1945 – 1960This period in the growth of the school was a time of stabilisation. The school went from an enrolment of fourteen to sixty children between 1945 -1960 as the suburb of Chelsea Heights grew slowly.
The year 1952 marked the beginning of the growth of Chelsea Heights. The building industry leapt forward and the baby boom was beginning to hit the school and families needed homes. The enrolment of the school all but doubled to 35 in the two years to 1952.
In this period it became evident that school buildings needed to keep up with increasing enrolments. Chelsea Heights Primary grew so quickly that it had a new classroom built in 1954 to house the Infant Section of the School. The school enrolment was 43.
In 1955 the Education Department informed of the intended removal of the school due to the proposed freeway. The committee sent a petition to the Department on 28 November with a request that the school be moved nearer to Chelsea Heights.
A new current school site of 5 acres was chosen. It was situated on the corner of Wells and Chelsea Roads, Chelsea Heights. The position was very suitable for the population of the area, with much easier access for the children as it was on the same side of the road to all established housing and new housing developments. The school was moved in 1960.
1961 – 1980
The School began to grow rapidly with the surrounding pastoral land being subdivided by developers. The population growth in the area was so great that by 1974 the school enrolment had grown to over 400.
The comparatively new classroom of 1954 had been moved from Wells Road to the new site and is now incorporated in the present building as room 2. Two further classrooms were added, one in 1963 and the other in 1964. In late 1963 Chelsea Heights State School officially replaced the name of Carrum North. The new Library and Arts/Craft Centre was opened on 28 November 1975.
1980 – 2012The decades of the eighties and nineties were ones that saw many changes both within the school curriculum and within the structure of the school. The role of the School Council began to have a greater impact upon the school and decision making.
It was reported in the School Newsletter dated 28 May 1981 that Chelsea Heights Primary School was the second school in Victoria to commence the Safety House Program. With the support of a few dedicated parents this has continued to date.
With the continuous building expansion over the years, playing space had reduced. The five acre site that was once occupied by three portables and sixty children back in 1960, has 12 classrooms, 6 portables, recreation hall, outdoor learning area, a complex specialist centre housing a performing arts area, art studio, gymnasium, reference zone and kitchen, new toilet blocks and canteen.
Information and Images taken from "Out of the Swamp" By Kath Ensor & Dimity Pollard