The residents of Mooroolbark expressed their concern at the need for an elementary education for their children in a petition to the Education Department of 19th February 1877.
The petition was signed by nineteen parents and stated that there were “67 children in the locality, wandering the bush in total ignorance”.
On the 9th June 1880, School No. 2259 was opened. William Crellin was the first Head Teacher. The total cost of establishing this new school, including the classroom furniture and the teacher’s residential quarters was 152.3s 5d. Although at its opening it was called ‘Double Pitts’, in early correspondence the school was referred to as ‘Mooroolbark South’ school. In 1900 the Education Department agreed to change the school’s name to Montrose State School No. 2259.
The first Pupils’ Register available (covering the period 1914 – 1937) provides glimpses of the way of life of those times.
Quite a number of the pupils lived between two and four miles from the school. Presumably many walked through heavily bushed country.
The majority of children enrolled at Montrose during this period left at various stages of their schooling on transfer to other state schools within Victoria, most being schools closer to Melbourne. Of the pupils remaining at Montrose for the completion of Grade 8 very few went on to higher education. Particularly during the years 1914 – 1922 most children leaving at Grade 7 or 8 level remained at home.
A glance at the occupations of parents or guardians during that period tells its own story …
Labourer, coach driver, blacksmith, carpenter, gardener, gentleman, farmer, boot clicker, iron moulder, orchardist, engine driver, coach proprietor, contractor, store keeper, dealer, brick maker, tailor, captain of transport, saw miller, wood cutter, carter, brick kiln proprieor.
Since 1880 there have been thirty two Head Teachers; the longest serving being Benjamin Budds 1926 – 1940 and Margaret Atkins 1976 – 1993. Six women have held the position.
It was because of the persistence of parents’ efforts that this school was established in 1880. Through the past century parents’ concerns and involvement have continued and have greatly influenced the development of Montrose Primary School.
Another feature obvious throughout the school’s history is the caring attitude that the school has demonstrated to the wider community.
The greatest growth is in the past 26 years, with a steady enrolment climb from 191 pupils in 1956 to peak enrolment of 646 in 1976. The school population is currently steady with approximately 575 students.