School History



In 1886, State School No 2784 opened in leased buildings on a site on the corner of Montague and Thistlewaite Streets in South Melbourne. The school began with 373 students and grew rapidly until, in 1888, the present site was purchased. A year later, in March 1889, Montague State School moved into its own buildings and has remained at this site ever since.


The school grew to accommodate up to 600 students. It had an Infant Department, a Domestic Arts Centre (which later moved to become the J S Boyd School of Domestic Arts) and a Woodwork Centre.


Since the early 1900’s momentum was building to establish Special Schools in Victoria and in 1913 the Bell Street Special School was opened.  In 1915 twenty students aged between five and fourteen were enrolled in the Montague branch of the Bell Street School.


In 1915, as the Special School expanded, the Woodwork Centre was transferred to another school and in 1918 the Infant Department was closed.  By 1930 the Domestic Arts Centre had moved out. A  Boys’ Club was jointly established at Montague by the Education Department and the South Melbourne Council and included a gymnasium as well as teaching vocational skill such as automotive skills, boot repairing, carpentry, tin work and toy making.


In 1928 Montague became a Special School in its own right, Bessie Scott was its first Head Teacher (A Mother’s Club was formed and a telephone installed). Physical Education became an important part of school life at Montague. By 1937 there were 91 students enrolled.


A polio epidemic in 1938 saw classrooms at Montague used as a paralysis clinic and later as a school for the victims of polio.


Innovative programs and teaching methods during the 1940’s and 1950’s saw Montague used as a training school for student teachers from the Melbourne Teachers’ College. In the 1960’s a major initiative of the Head Teacher, Miss Trewella, was the development of a work experience and work placement program. Montague’s program was the first in Victorian schools for students with an intellectual disability.


Students in the 1970’s also took part in many school camps at Blackwood. In 2009 a group of students and teachers completed the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.


An Australian innovation began at the Centre in 1981 when all students participated in and completed the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bridge Award. 


A major change to education at Montague occurred in 1977 when it was renamed Montague Continuing Education Centre and became a school for senior special school pupils. Its programs “broadly aimed at two things:


  • Full time open employment
  • The ability to live independently within society”  (Graeme Guy, Acting Principal 1982).


This article is from 

Tony Thomas (Principal 1986-1994) Montague School No 2784 – a history 1886-2001