'From Slate to Microchip’ – One hundred and forty-seven years of Briagolong Primary School
Briagolong Primary School (formerly known as Rural School No 71 Top Plain and Briagolong Common School), was formed in 1871; just over 100 years after Captain James Cook sailed our eastern seaboard, and only 3 years after sailing ship ‘Hougomont’ arrived in Australia carrying the last of the 160 000 convicts transported to Australia. During this historic year, 26 children from Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Switzerland and English descents started Briagolong Primary Schools 147 year tradition.
The original buildings from as early as 1872 are still onsite and are being used as classrooms today. The Red Brick Building was built in December, 1871 through community fundraising and funding from the Education Board. The building cost a total of £200 and is made from 30 000 red bricks. At the time, the building was used for teaching as well as community meetings and events. The building is used today and valued as a Prep building. The historic Sloyd building was erected in 1914 and was the building of the original school. Over the years it has been used for multiple uses such as a place for enrolments, library and film room. Today, the building is used as a Resource Room.
Located beside the Red Brick Building is the school’s historical bell. The bell has been found to have been rung in community records from as early as 1923 as a call to order, a warning for danger and in celebration. The bell is rung dutifully today during celebration and paying respect.
The school is an integral part of the community and has experienced many epidemics over the years. The school has experienced the Gold Rush of 1865, declaring Freestone Creek area a goldfield, and the periods of World War I and II. Briagolong, at the time of war, had a strong sense of cavalry. Students as young as 16 volunteered in World War I which resulted in huge losses experienced by the district. World War II however, came nearer to home for Briagolong. Air Raid shelters were dug and daily air raid practices were held. In support of the war effort, the boys made camouflage nets and the girls were involved in making articles for soldiers. Bushfires have also impacted Briagolong with the earliest school closure day being in 1965, and the most recent being 2019.
In 1944, consolidation was deemed important from the Education Department for rural areas. Consolidation was designed to create a combined Primary and Secondary school setting on a large area of land and for schools to share staffing expertise. In our area, school committees at Riverslea, Tinamber, Upper Maffra West, Newry, Boisdale, Valencia Creek, Briagolong and Boisdale East met to discuss consolidation. The site was approved in 1944 however long delays regretted the school opening until 1954. In this time, two schools had decided to withdraw from the concept. These two schools were Riverslea and Briagolong.
Briagolong Primary School has been an important part of the local community since 1871. With current enrolments of 120 students, the school serves cherished to the students in the township and surrounding foothills. Through strong teaching staff, School Council, Junior School Council and Parents and Friends’ Committee, parents, students and the local school community have input to school management. Parent involvement in all aspects of the school is actively encouraged and greatly valued. The impact of learning, and student social and emotional development is a major asset of the school.
With thanks and reference from:
Manning. L. (1996), From Slate to Microchip – One Hundred and Twenty-Five Years of Primary School 1117 Briagolong: Briagolong Primary School, BRIAGOLONG. ISBN 0646278177