While based on the Northern Territory, there is a need for educational history to be appreciated and respected on a global basis.


One of the sad deficits confronting Northern Territory Education is the lack of recorded history. Very poor attention has been paid to recording past developments.

When appointed as the CEO of Northern Territory Education in 2009, Gary Barnes highlighted this issue. He said there was little documentation on system history to which he could refer. This limitation put him in a challenging position. He identified the lack of historical information as a major oversight.

Nothing happened before 1992

The Department of Education computerised many of it’s systems in 1992. Manually compiled records developed prior to that date are not readily accessible. Inquiry about earlier matters often go unanswered because nobody has access to requested information. It is not uncommon for long term and now retired educators, to be rung and asked if they can recall answers to historical questions. It is almost as if the foundational years of NT Education never happened.

A priority should be retrieval and electronic recording of what remains of NT educational history. Ideally, that project should embrace individual schools, educational regions and the system as a whole.

A way of starting might be to create a web page which invites people to input information either anecdotally or more formally. This could be periodically moderated and formatted.

Some Data

Some schools have better historical recall because of document preservation. School newsletters, yearbooks and school council documentation are three sources providing information about their past. A few have even compiled school histories. Parap School for example, celebrated its 50th anniversary with the release of a book which summarised its years of growth and development

However, there has been no concerted effort on the part of our system or most schools to compile a documented record about development.

This deprives newcomers the chance to appreciate the background of schools. It also means that principals and system leaders are “starting over” when it comes to considering future school and system direction. Changes made without considering history can lead to past mistakes, or poor policy decisions being revisited.

It is important to look ahead. However, awareness of the past should inform the future. Reflection can help avoid revisiting pitfalls at both school and system level. It is rather sad that public education in the NT, in looking forward, seems to discount what happened in the past. Our lack of recorded history needs to be addressed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.