The SIDE Story

A New Era in WA Educational History

Officially established in September 1918, the WA Correspondence School was two years behind the Victorian correspondence school, although instruction through correspondence to young people who were preparing for teaching careers had already been established in the state since 1903. This made WA "a pioneer in this area" (Gordon Worner, Superintendent of Primary Education).

Prior to 1918, parents of isolated students, who had no means of supporting their children in boarding schools or hiring private tutors, were left to their own devices. It was this very unsatisfactory situation that prompted Mr Robert Sandon, of Marne Near Goomalling in May, 1917, to apply to the Minister of Education asking that a "correspondence branch" be established similar to those operating successfully elsewhere. After the initial rejection, the Director of Education Mr Andrews, recommended the establishment of the correspondence school in WA. The main purpose of the newly established school was to provide education to the 'isolated' and the 'outback' students at primary level.
new era
With the passage of time the courses for post-primary education were established including most of the curriculum subjects available to the city students. Other groups, such as physically disabled children, children whose parents, owing to the transitory nature of their occupation, had no fixed address or those who were temporarily living overseas where schooling was not available, were added to the already diverse 'community' of students enrolled with the correspondence School. There were also students who were over the compulsory age and who had left school but wanted to continue their studies in a few subjects.

By 1926 a new and very important category of students was added to the above mentioned groups, and these were probationers and unclassified teachers preparing for the C Certificate examinations. In 1939 correspondence lessons were made available to disabled children in the metropolitan area. The correspondence lessons were also made available to Aboriginal children in pastoral areas, at Aboriginal Missions without schools and to post-primary Aboriginal students in small country schools.