Caulfield Grammar School was founded on 25 April 1881 by the Reverend Joseph Henry Davies with just nine pupils. Davies, who had been a missionary to India, he bought the site for the school—a small lolly shop—for £25 on 16 April and employed his sister and two brothers as teachers. Davies' aim was "that the School should be a thoroughly Christian one" that looked to render "Christian service". The school, originally located adjacent to the Elsternwick railway station, is believed to have been named Caulfield Grammar School because Caulfield was the regional locality, although the geographical boundaries of Melbourne's suburban areas were not strictly defined or precisely named at the time. Also, the vicar of St Mary's Church in Caulfield had provided Davies with support when opening the school. Davies had gone to India under the auspices of St Mary's, having been a member of the church for several years before that.
He later went to Korea as a missionary under the auspices of the Victorian Presbyterian church, having been ordained as Presbyterian minister at Scots' Church, Melbourne on 5 August 1889; he had broken from the Church of England and, through this act, also broken from the Church Missionary Society.The Age,
For Young People (Supplement)
(Friday, 24 April 1936), p.4.
There is a harmonious completeness and yet simplicity
about the Caulfield Grammar School crest. The book is
the symbol of intellectual activity, the sporting emblems
to be seen in the lower portion represent the training of
the body in games, while the girdle stands for the
corporate spirit, which gives unity to school life. Thus
the principal activities of modern school life are repre-
sented in harmonious relationship, while the guiding star
surmounting the shield points the way "ever upward and
onward". The crest was adopted very early in the
school's history, being designed by one of the masters
nearly fifty years ago. The school motto, Labora Ut
Requiescas, is an adaptation of verse 11, chapter 4, of
the Epistle to the Hebrews:—"Let us labour therefore to
enter into that rest".
A year after opening, the school had 32 students enrolled. To house the growing student body, the school then moved to a nearby small building nearby, destroyed in a fire in 1890. In 1896, the school amalgamated with Hawksburn Grammar School, a smaller local Christian school after Hawksburn's headmaster, W. Murray Buntine, was appointed as headmaster at Caulfield. Hawksburn's 55 students subsequently transferred to Caulfield. The current site, a property near Sir Frederick Sargood's Rippon Lea Estate on what is now Glen Eira Road, St Kilda East was purchased in 1909. Classes began on the site on 9 February 1909 and the school's boarding house opened in 1912.
By 1931, the school's 50th anniversary, attendance had grown to 500 students but Caulfield was still considered small compared to schools such as Xavier College and Melbourne Grammar School. To celebrate the Golden Jubilee, a Jubilee Fair was held at the school in May. In the same year, the school moved from private ownership to a registered company governed by a School Council, an organisational structure still used today, with formal affiliation with the Church of England. In 1958 Caulfield joined the exclusive Associated Public Schools of Victoria schoolboy sporting competition. Caulfield was Victoria's fifth largest school in 1959, with over 800 students.
In 1961, Caulfield affiliated with Malvern Memorial Grammar School. Malvern Grammar School opened in 1890 as a boys-only secondary school and in 1924 moved into the Valentine's Mansion, formerly the home of Sir John Mark Davies (no relation to the school's founder), a Victorian Cabinet minister. The mansion was built in 1892 and contains a large ballroom. Valentine's Mansion has been listed as a place of historical and architecture significance by both the Victorian Heritage Register and the Register of the National Estate.
The school was renamed Malvern Memorial Grammar School in 1947 to honour old boys who had fought in World Wars I and II. Malvern Memorial Grammar School amalgamated with Shaw House in 1971 and became the Malvern Campus, a primary school located in the Valentine's Mansion, and its students began to wear the Caulfield Grammar School uniform. From 1949 to 1979, Caulfield had operated Shaw House, its primary school located in Mayfield Street, St Kilda East, offering kindergarten and schooling from Years 1 to 3.
During the 1960s and 1970s, student activism saw changes in the school's policies relating to students. Appointed prefects were replaced in 1970 by an elected School Committee to represent the student body, the publication of a student newsletter Demos—containing editorials on aspects of the school—was allowed, religious education classes were made voluntary for senior year levels, the position of school chaplain was abolished, and Caulfield was the only APS school to allow its students to participate in moratorium marches protesting the Vietnam War on 8 May 1970.
The school's centenary year, 1981, marked the appearance of the first girls at Caulfield, as a second senior school campus opened at Wheelers Hill on 26 April. Caulfield had purchased the land for a future project in 1969, and a new campus was established to celebrate the centenary. Wheelers Hill began as a coeducational school for all year levels. In 1993, the other campuses opened to girls, making Caulfield fully coeducational.
The school established a computer network in 1997 with all students and staff having individual log in details, email accounts, and file space. Unlike other Australian independent schools, Caulfield Grammar School has not followed the trend of making laptops compulsory for students. However, the school provides an online login system or Intranet for students and staff that is accessed via existing entry passwords and usernames. This capability is referred to as the School's sixth or "virtual" campus, and enables access to email and files from the school network over the Internet.
After Caulfield Campus' historic War Memorial Hall, built in 1958, was burnt down in an electrical fire on 14 November 2000—a Melbourne Cup public holiday—Caulfield Grammar School began to plan the construction of major halls at both Caulfield and Wheelers Hill campuses, naming the project "The Twin Halls". The Memorial Hall at Wheelers Hill was officially opened on 28 July 2005 and the Cripps Centre at Caulfield Campus opened on 25 October 2005. Each hall seats 650 people; the Wheelers Hill hall including a new chapel fitted with a multimedia centre and Caulfield hall including a music/visual art department.
Caulfield Grammar School now has over 2,800 students throughout its three day campuses. It is the only Melbourne-based school in the APS to provide boarding for both boys and girls, with nearly 100 boarding students from rural Australia, Melbourne and overseas. For non-international students, fees range from A$8,000 to A$18,000 per year for day students, and in excess of $30,000 for boarding students. Caulfield received A$2,134,444 as estimated ERI (federal funding) in 2000, which increased to A$6,573,791 in 2004. As with most Australian independent schools, Caulfield is not a full fee paying institution; full fees apply only to international students, who are not subsidised by government funding.
The 125th anniversary of Caulfield's founding was marked in 2006 and various events were held in commemoration. On 26 April 2006, the school community held a day of celebrations (ANZAC Day—a national public holiday—is held in Australia on 25 April, the actual anniversary of the founding). Staff and students at all five campuses of the school—with student groups visiting both the Nanjing and Yarra Junction campuses at the time—formed "125TH" at their respective campuses and an aerial photograph was taken. Other celebrations during the year included a 125th Anniversary Ball at Crown Casino for past and present staff and parents, as well as past students. The annual Founders' Day service at St Paul's Cathedral was attended by guest of honour, Governor of Victoria Dr. David de Kretser, a past parent of the school. The School Council commissioned author Helen Penrose to write a history of the school entitled Outside the Square, which was released in 2006.
The school is a member of the Associated Public Schools of Victoria (APS), and is affiliated with the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA), the Australian Boarding Schools' Association, and the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria (AISV).
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