A special thanks to Beryl Patullo for her research, photos and documentation. Thanks also to Julie Henly for her compilation.
The Thomastown area was settled in the 1840s, it was predominately settled by the Wesleyans and the Lutherans. In Victoria in 1848 there were two systems of schooling. The National School Board (these schools were not affiliated with a specific religion). The Denominational School Board (these schools were run and organized by a specific church and they taught their own religion). The land where Thomastown Primary School is situated today was sold on 24th November 1848.
In 1853 Francis Thomas, a Wesleyan offered one acre of this land to the church, the front half for the building of a school house which was also to be used for church services on Sunday, and the rear for a cemetery. The church paid 100 pounds for the land. So the Wesleyans applied to the Denominational Schools Board for a grant towards the building of a schoolhouse. It was granted, so in November 1854 the school was completed. It was a timber building with an iron roof.
On January 1st 1855 the first official headmaster was appointed by the board. The school was called Keilbundora Wesleyan School, and was a co-educational school, with 23 boys and 22 girls enrolled. The schools were given government aid and the pupils had to pay fees. However it was not compulsory to attend school in Victoria, many children were expected to work on the farms and help the family take their produce to market. The Thomastown area at this time was primarily market gardens and farming.
There was no planning as to where schools were built and some children had no school in their area at all. There was no transport and children had to walk or ride a horse to school. The government was subsidizing both of the school systems and it was expensive and ineffective. After much debate and lobbying, The Common School Board of Education was formed in September 1862. As a result of this, all existing schools were put in alphabetical order and numbered. Some schools were closed and others were opened in areas that had no schools. Each school had a representative on this Board.
National Schools were automatically accepted into the system, but Denominational Schools had to provide four hours per day of secular education (two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon). The subjects to be taught for those four hours were reading, writing and arithmetic; in order to qualify for aid under the Common Schools Act.