Brief history of the formation of KGSC


Kelvin Grove State College (KGSC) was formed, officially, at the start of 2002, from the merger of the previous Kelvin Grove State and Kelvin Grove State High Schools. Education Queensland has a history of, in different decades, emphasising different sections of its portfolio. Nowadays, the emphasis is very much on Literacy and Numeracy, through NAPLAN testing and other initiatives. In the 1980s, with the introduction of Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Laws, various Aboriginal equality and land rights laws, etc., one of EQ’s foci was Social Justice. In fact, in the 1990s, Kelvin Grove State High School even had a Head of Department (Social Justice). In the 1990s, when the rapid growth of independent schooling became an important issue, a focus of Education Queensland was Client Service, better meeting the needs of students and their families. Many in Education Queensland were considering whether the “one size- fits-all” model of State schooling (comprehensive, coeducational, primary schools to Year 7 and high schools from Year 7 to Year 12) provided enough variety of options for State school families, especially in urban areas. These people looked with some envy at the private system, where variety flourished: single gender schools, selective schools (for brighter students and for vocational students), traditional primary and high schools but also P-12 colleges and a variety in-between, and so on. There was considerable pressure, as a government system, to add variety and choice to the State schooling options available.

Concurrently, in the late 1990s, the State government put aside a very large sum of money for facilities’ improvement and renovation in State secondary schools, a program named Secondary School Renewal. The Kelvin Grove schools’ facilities were very much original and seriously outdated, the only work that had been done for many years was the building of two dance studios for the Queensland Dance School of Excellence and the building-in under the Science block to create two industrial kitchens for Home Economics and Catering students. Submissions were called from schools to access Secondary School Renewal funding.

Putting these two initiatives together, clearly schools that could provide a submission that enhanced client service were more likely to access significant funding from the Secondary School Renewal program. The then principals of the primary school (Judy Thompson) and the high school (myself), along with the EQ representative from District Office (Donna George), decided to put in a submission based on the merger of the primary and high schools at Kelvin Grove to form a P-12 college, if the respective school communities agreed. The consultation processes were indeed long and arduous, with not everyone agreeing that a merger was necessarily a good thing, but in the end (with stoic and intelligent leadership of their communities by the Presidents of the two P&Cs, Peter Bryant at the high school, and Jo Price at the primary school, along with many other committed parents) a merger was proposed and agreed by the two communities.

The benefits of a P-12 college at Kelvin Grove, as put to the community, included:

  • significant facilities’ upgrades and renovation through Secondary School Renewal;

  • the creation of a P-12 college where all the students of a family could attend together, removing the stressful ‘break’ of schools between primary and secondary schooling;

  • a P-12 college with continuity of curriculum, behaviour management models and expectations, again avoiding the discontinuity in changing schools between primary and high schools;

  • access by primary pupils to far greater human and physical resources, such as Science laboratories, kitchens, performing arts studios, an instrumental music program, and so on;

  • schooling in a P-12 environment appropriate to age development, with a Junior School for children (Principal, Judy Thompson), and a Middle School for adolescents (Principal, Majella Frith) and a Senior School for young adults (Principal, Trina Beard); and, of course

  • the creation of greater ‘choice’ for Brisbane State school families in the style of State schooling their children become involved in; and

  • other reasons quite numerous.

With the decisions of the two schools to support the merger, our Secondary School Renewal submission was also successful, for one of the largest amounts given to any school at the time. The renewal program provided the college with:

  • a new Performing Arts block, with two Dance studios, two Drama studios, a computer laboratory, storage, staff-room, and so on;

  • a new Visual Arts block, with three Art classrooms, an Art computer room of Macs, and a staffroom;

  • a Health & Physical Education centre near the oval, with three HPE classrooms, a staffroom, a serving centre and storage, as well as completion of the enclosure of the Gymnasium;

  • a Social Sciences/Languages centre of five classrooms, through the enclosure of the ground floor of E-Block; and

  • complete renovation of the previously small and inadequate classrooms in what is now the Middle School blocks, with a computer pod for every two adjacent classrooms - while at the same time The Enrichment Centre for students with disabilities consisting of two classrooms, a staffroom, a kitchenette and storage was put onto the college grounds; and

  • the Year 6 and 7 classes were included in the Middle School, leaving classroom space in the Junior School so that more pupils could, in the long term, be enrolled in Years Prep to 5.

In becoming a P-12 college, Kelvin Grove joined, and led, other South-East Queensland mergers, that resulted in the likes of Camp Hill State College, Earnshaw State College, Stretton State College, Kawana Waters State College, and other purpose-built P-12 colleges such as Varsity Lakes College, Chancellor State College and North Lakes State College. [Eventually, greater variety in State Schooling options was also provided by the formation of State schools for gifted students (the Academies at Toowong, Kelvin Grove and the Gold Coast), for vocational students (Commonweathfunded, such as the Technology College at Redcliffe), and special purpose State schools, such as Aviation High at Hendra. While the creation of single-gender State schools was also a matter of discussion at this time, especially the possibility of a Brisbane State high school for girls, this did not eventuate.)

I believe the merger, and the resultant Kelvin Grove State College, has been, while not without its significant challenges, a resounding success. While there are many indicators of this, perhaps the most telling is the rapid enrolment increase the college has undergone since the merger. The growth in student enrolment from about 1300 total in 2001 to over 2800 today is surely indicative of a community need being met for the option of P-12 schooling in inner-Brisbane, and of the extremely high education standard being offered in the college. Thank you for this opportunity to outline the history of the formation of Kelvin Grove State College. I again thank everyone involved in supporting the development of this great school, and wish it the best into the future under its current Executive Principal, Llew Paulger.

Last reviewed 15 November 2018
Last updated 15 November 2018