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Pulteney Grammar School

Pulteney Grammar School is an independent, Anglican, co-educational, private day school. Founded in 1847 by members of the Anglican Church, it is the second oldest independent school in South Australia. Its campuses are located on South Terrace in Adelaide, South Australia.

Pulteney Grammar School
Coordinates34°56′5″S 138°36′9″E / 34.93472°S 138.60250°E / -34.93472; 138.60250Coordinates: 34°56′5″S 138°36′9″E / 34.93472°S 138.60250°E / -34.93472; 138.60250
TypeIndependent, co-educational, day school
MottoO Prosper Thou Our Handiwork
ChairmanGreg Keene
PrincipalAnne Dunstan
Employees~150 (Full-time)[3]
Enrolment~915 (K-12)[3]
Houses     Bleby Howard
     Cawthorne Nicholls
     Kennion Miller
     Moore Sunter
Colour(s)Navy blue, white & gold
SloganForward Thinking


Revd E.K. Miller, first Headmaster of Pulteney Grammar School

In May 1847, a group of founding trustees met in Adelaide in order to discuss the establishment of a new school for the children of Adelaide. Twelve months later, on May 29, 1848, the new institution Pulteney Street School was opened. The school was established in the Anglican tradition, which continues to this day, though it admitted students of all denominations and children from non-Christian faiths. It began operating shortly after St Peter's College was founded but many years before that, also Anglican, establishment moved to its present location in Hackney. The Pulteney Street School was clearly aimed at a different demographic, having a monthly charge of 2/6d per month for each pupil, deemed "a rate which the poorest can surely afford to pay for the education of their children".[4] The school had 50 attendees by the end of its first week of operation, and 180 by October 1848. Classes were taken at a newly constructed 30 by 60 feet (9.1 by 18.3 m) building at the corner of Pulteney and Flinders streets, boys and girls being taught separately; the girls' classes ceasing around 1854.

21 principals have governed the school, the first being E. K. Miller, who served from 1848 to 1851, before being replaced by several of even shorter duration, during which the school's title became Pulteney Street Central Schools.[5] More durable Principals, (W. S. Moore, 24 years in office, W. P. Nicholls, 41 years, and W. R. Ray, 26 years), led Pulteney to become an esteemed educational institution, with its traditional competitors including Scotch College, Prince Alfred College, and St Peter's College. The first female Principal, Anne Dunstan, took office in 2014.[6]

In 1919 the old building was acquired by the Commonwealth Government for repatriation purposes,[7] and the school was required to move to its current premises on South Terrace, where a new building, now called the Nicholls Building, was opened by Lord Forster, then Governor-General, in July 1921. The school's move heralded the change in its name to its current form, and also brought financial uncertainty to the board of governors, who elected W. R. Ray in 1946 to attempt to bring the school back onto its feet. By 1953, Pulteney Grammar School offered a full education for boys, beginning in what is now called 'reception', until 'Leaving Honours' (Year 12).[8]

The school changed its structure from an all-boys day-school to admit students of both genders in 1999.

An active Old Scholars' network maintains a connection between the institution and its alumni. Like other schools of a similar standing, Pulteney's alumni identify themselves with an old boys' tie, which is presented to students upon graduation.

Queen's SchoolEdit

In 1883 Thomas Field established the Christ Church Collegiate School at the Christ Church Schoolrooms in Jeffcott Street North Adelaide. The institution was later renamed Queen's School and later still Queen's College. During the last week of June 1949 parents of the 130 boys at the College were advised of its impending closure at the end of the year. The School did not fail as a school for lack of pupils, curriculum choice or competent teaching staff, but as a business venture, for lack of working capital. Queen's had been a significant competitor for Pulteney, and its loss, as one of three Anglican boys Schools in Adelaide, was profoundly felt across South Australia. A significant number of boys transferred to Pulteney upon Queen's closure.[9]

School structure and demographicsEdit

Herbert Hynes, student c. 1885, wearing Pulteney Grammar School uniform
The school's footbridge allows Pulteney students to safely cross heavily trafficked South Terrace
The Middle School building was built in 2018

As of 2012, the School has 1000 students enrolled and over 150 teaching and non-teaching staff. Pulteney is composed of four sub-schools located on the same campus. The 'Kurrajong' and the ELC (Early Learning Centre) for students up to year 2, Prep School for years 3-6, Middle School for years 7-9 and "one ninety" (Senior School) for the final years 10-12. Each sub-school is overseen by a Head of School responding to the Principal.

According to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, the school economic background distribution is: 72% upper quarter, 23% upper middle quarter, 5% lower middle quarter, and 1% lower quarter.[10] There are no Aboriginal students in the school community, as of 2015. The school attendance rate in 2013 was 100%.

Notable alumniEdit

Rhodes ScholarsEdit

  • Charles Ashwin, 1952. Rhodes Scholar for South Australia.[11]
  • Peter Gibbard, 1991. Rhodes Scholar for South Australia.[11]
  • Mark Mussared, 1976. Rhodes Scholar for South Australia.[11]
  • John Pritchard, 1935. Rhodes Scholar for South Australia.[11]
  • Simon Best, 1973. Rhodes Scholar for South Australia.[11]

Politics, diplomacy and LawEdit


Pulteney Old Scholar and surgical oncologist, immunologist and medical researcher, Professor Brendon Coventry


Brigadier Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, VC was a Pulteney Old Scholar who served in the First and Second World Wars and was a prisoner of war; he subsequently had a distinguished legal career




  • Joseph Albert Riley, (1869-1940), prominent Adelaide businessman, Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, philanthropist, notably awarded the King Albert Medal for services in the Great War[28]
  • Colin Blore Bednall, journalist and media manager, Editor and Director of Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd.[29]
  • Oscar Lionel Isaachsen, banker[30]
  • Alan Scott Martin, died 1958, former Assistant Chief Valuer of the Land Tax Department, and former member of the Australian Land Board[31]


  • Jed Richards, author of 'One Long Day'[32]

History of the Pulteney Old Scholars' AssociationEdit

Pulteney's history started on May 29, 1848 when the Pulteney Street School opened its doors to the first group of students at its premises in Pulteney Street, with E.K.Miller as the first headmaster. In 1898 the school celebrated its 50th birthday and one of the initiatives to come out of the planning for the celebration was to be the formation of an official Old Scholars' Association.The first Old Scholars' Association, known as the Pulteney Street Old Scholars' Association, officially started on 6 October 1898. Prior to this there had been an unofficial association, mainly consisting of Old Scholars known as Moore-ites, who had been at the school when W.S.Moore was the headmaster, between 1861 and 1884. In January 1901 the Old Scholars' Association asked the Board of Governors that the Association be allowed to nominate one of its members to fill a vacancy on the board. In April of that year the first Old Scholars' nominee was duly elected to the board and attended his first meeting in June. The school remained in Pulteney Street until 1919 when it moved to temporary premises in the Hindmarsh Square Congregational Hall, before moving to its current home on South Terrace. The foundation stone for the new Pulteney Grammar School was laid on 11 November 1920 and the Governor-General, Lord Forster, officially opened the school on Sunday, 3 July 1921. Interesting to note that the site of the new school was formerly owned by St Peters College.

At the same time arrangements were under way for the school to move to South Terrace, the current headmaster, WP Nicholls himself an Old Scholar, initiated a revival of the Old Scholars' Association, which had apparently not met since May 1911. In response to a newspaper advertisement, approximately 100 Old Scholars attended the schools 69th birthday and an influx of members saw the association become an active partner in the schools community. The headmaster continued his involvement with the Association and for 18 months was effectively its President and for many years after that continued to be an energetic member of the committee.

The early 1940s saw a major reorganisation of the administrative side of the school, which included the official name change from Pulteney Street School Inc. to Pulteney Grammar School, although it had been commonly known as that since 1921. The administrative changes also included significant of the corporation's rules and regulations that had been established in 1870. One of those changes was to allow the Old Scholars' Association to nominate two members to the Council of Governors, the forerunner to today's Board. This policy is still in operation today and in 2013 the first female Old Scholars nominee was appointed to the Board. The Pulteney Parents and Friends Association was granted similar nomination rights in the 1970s.

The appointment of Canon W.R.Ray in 1947 was a turning point in the school's history. In the years leading up to his appointment, student numbers had been dropping steadily and this had impacted on Old Scholar numbers and therefore the Association's involvement and impact on school life. Under his leadership, student numbers steadily increased, much needed maintenance work was undertaken, additional buildings were acquired and a number of new initiatives were implemented.

One of the factors that contributed to the fall in numbers was the fact that Pulteney did not offer classes beyond intermediate level, year 10. This meant students who wanted to complete their education transferred to other schools and in many cases joined that school's Old Scholars, rather than Pulteney. This changed in 1951 when Leaving (year 11) was reintroduced after a brief unsuccessful attempt several years earlier and then in 1953 when Leaving Honours (year 12) began.

In 1985, a proposal was developed that resulted in the most significant change to the Association since its formation. At that time, membership in the Association was by way of an annual subscription, or through the purchase of a life membership. Unfortunately, most students upon completing their schooling did not take up the option of becoming a member of the Association. After nearly 100 years of operation, the Association had assets of approximately $20,000 and a very small annual income. This lack of funds severely restricted its ability to support Old Scholars sporting teams and other activities.

The idea was that when parents initially enrolled their sons (and later on daughters), a percentage of the enrolment fee would be treated as a life membership fee to the Old Scholars Association. This would mean that when students completed their schooling, they would automatically become life members of the Association. This arrangement would include students who left Pulteney and completed their education at another school.

The board approved this arrangement in 1985. As part of the arrangement, the association established the Old Scholars' Foundation and all life membership fees received by go into the Foundation. The aim was to build up the Foundation to a point where the interest would be sufficient to fund worthwhile initiatives, such as providing scholarships.

Several years later, the arrangement was expanded so that all students who had left the school prior to 1985 were also deemed to be life members of the Association.[33]


In 2008, Pulteney Grammar School was accused of discriminating against two brothers, students at the school, by offering financial incentives to female students but not males, whose fees exceed $21,000 p.a.[34]

In 2009, many parents, heritage groups and members of the general public condemned Pulteney's plan to demolish the school's Morgan Building, a landmark South Terrace bluestone mansion, using funding from the Federal Government's stimulus package for new school buildings. While the building was not heritage listed, it is one of the last remaining mansions on South Terrace and was recommended in 1992 for conservation under Adelaide's Townscape List. The school went ahead with their plans of demolition, despite a letter written by the Adeladie City Council to the school arguing against the proposal. David Beaumont of the National Heritage Trust said that Pulteney Grammar was “A school which should be setting an example in fact demolishing history instead of teaching it" and in an interview, one parent stated “...It’s [Pulteney Grammar] a values based school but it’s only values that suit them at the school.”[35]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pulteney Grammar School". Search for Schools. Private Schools Directory. 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  2. ^ "Co-education Schools". Community. Anglican Diocese of Adelaide. Archived from the original on 3 March 2008. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  3. ^ a b "My School website". Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved 1 June 2016.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Local Intelligence". The Adelaide Observer. VI, (257). South Australia. 27 May 1848. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  5. ^ "Pulteney Street Central Schools". South Australian Register. XVI, (1804). South Australia. 25 June 1852. p. 2. Retrieved 1 April 2019 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Old Days and New". The Register (Adelaide). LXXXIV, (22, 722). South Australia. 5 September 1919. p. 5. Retrieved 1 April 2019 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^
  10. ^[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b c d e "The Rhodes Scholarship, South Australia" (PDF). Retrieved 9 July 2006.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Debelle, Bruce (29 March 2014). "Youngest ambassador had a deep affinity for the world of Islam - and cricket". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 5 March 2015.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^[permanent dead link]
  18. ^,10907
  19. ^ Blackburn, R.A (1979). "Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth (1892 - 1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 7 (Online ed.). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp. 307–308. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "-".
  27. ^ "Keith Phillips" (PDF).
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Obituary". Australian Surveyor. 17: 133. doi:10.1080/00050326.1958.10440382.
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^

External linksEdit