The Cottage School began in 1975. Sally Sorell had successfully run a kindergarten in her home in Petchey Street, Bellerive and with a group of parents decided that it would be good to extend the family based school for more than just the kindergarten year. Fathers felt that they were excluded from taking part in their children’s education so an Innovation Grant was applied for to enable school sessions to be run during some evenings and weekends.

In 1978 a further grant was given to the school to help integrate children with special needs. Yabbo Thompson was the Coordinator and joined the school to work from Sally’s home and the cottage at 4 Queen Street.

1980 saw the end of grants from the Commonwealth Government. There was a group of parents who were committed to the idea of the Cottage School and analysis showed that with per capital grants and fees, the school could be self-supporting.

With an increase in students it was decided to divide the children into three groups. It was felt that the middle primary children were over-awed when working with the upper primary children. It also gave the older children an opportunity to consolidate before their transition to high school.

With the 8Os came a need for more accountability. With it also, came a desire on the part of the community at the time, to ensure that the Cottage School was given the opportunity to be a permanent alternative in the educational spectrum. This meant formalising the accommodation. Several sites were investigated but it was hard to find anywhere better than the Queen Street site. In close proximity, it offered our children a range of environments from which they could learn. It also enabled children to walk, ride, bus, ferry or be driven to school. This was significant because it was important that children from across the socio-economic spectrum were able to get to the school.

The decision to consolidate in Queen Street was not popular with everyone. Several parents withdrew their children and staffing had to be rationalised.

The committee purchased the Green Cottage from Sally Sorell, then bought the White Cottage at 8 Queen Street. A capital grant for extensions and renovations was applied for and granted. This funding, together with a huge amount of time and effort from the school community (architecturally, drafting plans, labouring, painting and landscaping), saw the cottages refurbished and readied for classes.

In recent years we have focussed more on curriculum development. Staff have looked at Health Education, Maths, Science and English, and with parents have developed a Supportive School Environment Policy which is so important in a small community where parents play an integral role in the running of the school.

In 2000 the committee purchased 10 Queen Street; giving each group an adequate space to work.

In 2009 the school was granted money from the Building Education Revolution. This enabled a new Kinder area to be built, a new all purpose area for the older children and general renovations and maintenance. The new renovations were formally opened by Senator Bilyk in December 2011.

Since its humble beginnings in 1975, the school continues to thrive by offering an alternative form of schooling whilst providing a consistently high level of education.

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