Mount Waverley Primary School No. 3432 opened on 24 April 1906.
For the pioneering families of Mount Waverley life was hard and amusements were few. Mount Waverley was a rural area, the land on which homes now stand was being farmed as orchards, market gardens and dairy farms. Before the school was opened local children had to travel up to 5 kilometres each way to attend schools at Black Flat (now known as Glen Waverley), Tally Ho (now known as Burwood East) or Burwood.
During the early days of the school the highlight of the year for the children was the annual school picnic at Brighton or Hampton beach to which the children were transported in horse drawn wagons. Other highlights were the school concert and the fire crackers for the celebration of Empire Day.
Very little development took place in the district and the school population fluctuated between 30 and 60 pupils until about 1950. Over the next twenty years the district population soared which resulted in a rapidly increasing enrolment as well as the opening of a number of neighbouring schools – Amstel, Bayview, Essex Heights, Jordanville South, Pinewood, Sussex Heights, Syndal, Syndal South and Waverley North. By the mid 1990s the aging population had resulted in many of them being closed.
The Early Years
Initial efforts in 1900 to gain a local school were thwarted by the refusal of the Government to provide school buildings until a site was made available by local residents.
In January 1902, Mr. John Peggie, who farmed land to the west of the present school site, donated .5 acre on Waverley Road as a school site. The steep slope of the land, together with the close proximity to a creek made the site unsuitable and the offer was refused.
In April 1905 an area of two acres was donated by Messrs. Albert and Charles Closter and Mr. John Peggie who owned adjoining farms in Stephensons and Waverley Roads. Many years later a great grandson of Mr. Peggie attended the school.
On 24 April 1906 the school opened with 35 pupils. The first Headmaster was Mr. Jonas Samuel Key who was assisted by Mrs. Forden as a sewing mistress. The school building comprised a timber room and porch. It was sited on level ground at the intersection of the property boundaries with access being provided by a right-of-way from Waverley Road. The right-of-way became known as ‘School Lane’.
Within twelve months enrolment had risen to 66 which entitled the school to a junior teacher, Miss Eileen Dillon.
By 1912 the school had grown sufficiently to warrant the erection of another room and an increase of staff to four. The staff consisted of the Head Teacher, William Bishop, one assistant and two junior teachers, Evelyn Brewer and Elizabeth Stewart.
At the conclusion of World War II only 49 children attended the school. However, the number had risen to 99 by 1950 the suburb and school experienced rapid growth through the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1953 two additional classrooms were added, which was followed by a further three the following year. Also in 1954 2.75 acres of land adjoining the western and southern boundaries of the original site were acquired. This brought the total area to approximately 4.75 acres. The north western portion of this addition, which now forms part of the school oval, once contained a dam on the Closter property and in the early days of the school was the students’ ‘swimming hole’.
By 1957 there were thirteen teachers and eleven classrooms, four of which were erected that year. This had increased to 21 teachers and eighteen classrooms by 1962.
1963 saw the opening of a central library, half of the cost being raised by the local community. The school was honoured in 1966, when the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe, visited our school. When student enrolments reached a peak of 1141 in 1968, Mount Waverley was the largest primary school in Victoria. In addition it had become a training school attached to the Toorak Teachers College.
By the time the ‘sixties’ drew to a close the school had grown to 33 classrooms, a library, an art and craft room and a sports oval.
During the 1950s and 1960s Mount Waverley had a large number of young families, many with four or more children. During the 1970s and 1980s however the population aged and those young families in the area typically had smaller families. This led to a steady decrease in the school population which had dropped to 234 as 1992 drew to a close.
At the end of 1992 the neighbouring Bayview Primary School closed. Both schools existed in the same ‘block’ and whilst during the peak days of the late 1960s their combined enrolments exceeded 2000 children, they were now down to little more than 300. With sixty odd children from Bayview joining the Mount Waverley community for the commencement of the 1993 school year the enrolment rose to just over 300.
1994 Mr. Bill Marsh join the school as Principal. The closure of other nearby Primary Schools, Syndal, Waverley North, Amstel and Jordanville South meant an increased local catchment area and led to the enrolments reaching 367 on the way to 394 in 1996.
Much of 1996 and 1997 were spent performing a major refurbishment of the school. This included the creation of a large multi purpose room (‘The Oak Room’) as well as the installation of a state of the art computer network and three brightly coloured adventure playgrounds. The popularity of the school continued to rise with enrolments reaching 410 in 1997 and increasing to 425 in 1998.
The retirement of Mr Bill Marsh early in 1999 was followed by the appointment of Mr Trevor Saunders as Principal.
Upgrading of the school continued through 2000 with the installation of air conditioning in all classrooms as well as a major reconstruction of the school oval.