Celebrating 100 Years of Distance Education in Tasmania

On 22nd June 2019 Tasmanian eSchool hosted a Cocktail Party as the first official celebration of 100 Years of Distance Education in Tasmania. The event was held at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Marieville Esplanade, Sandy Bay.

Approximately 100 guests attended the Cocktail Party arriving to the sound of the band Mezzanine in which two of our very own teachers performed. Primary teacher, Sally Ellis was on vocals and Secondary teacher, Robert Madigan played guitar. A magnificent art exhibition, curated by Art teachers Sharon Waldron and Cindy Hill captured the passion our students have for painting and drawing. A digital montage rotated through the night displaying images of our school over the past 100 years.

Throughout the evening many guests shared their experiences of the school from the perspective of either; a parent, student or staff member. Several past principals shared such fond memories of their time with the school.

Tasmanian eSchool has evolved significantly since it was first established as the Correspondence School in 1919, however its objective to provide a quality teaching and learning program and support for our learners has remained unchanged.

The school was first established to provide education to primary students who were living in isolated areas but by the 1950's, the school had grown to offer this service to secondary students. Exactly 100 years later in 2019 education provision extended to offer Year 12 senior secondary education. The school is the only provider of K -12 online and distance education in Tasmania.

In February 1919, the Director of Education in Tasmania, W.T. McCoy stated that,“A correspondence school had been established to enable children of families residing in isolated districts outside a radius of three miles from an existing state school to receive some educational advantage.”

Like most schools moving in to the 21st century the school has significantly shifted in its delivery method. A family in 1922 remarked, “We cannot make a special trip with the packets of work as we are so far out and it means 26 miles on a very slow horse.”

For nearly 90 years, paper-based mail-outs were how we delivered an educational service. Today, our delays are not due to slow horses but slow internet speeds!

In the past ten years with the emergence of rapid technological change we have seen a move towards online learning platforms. In 2011, The Department of Education Tasmania, recognising the need to maintain currency in such significant social change and growth in state-wide enrolments, changed the school’s name from Distance Education Tasmania to Tasmanian eSchool. At this time a second campus was also established in Launceston.

Over the years, the school has moved locations many times and student needs have changed. Our programs are regularly adjusted to meet these needs so that students have access to a learning program that suits their context and enable them to develop the skills required for them to engage successfully in society.

Our centenary celebrations will continue through the remainder of 2019 concluding with the launch of 100 Years of Distance Education in Tasmania.