Euroke Free Church School No. 230

Before the advent of the State Education Board in Victoria, schooling was considered to be the responsibility of the church, only affordable by the wealthy or available to the parents of children who could afford to pay for their children’s education and the child or children were not required to work on the family farm from dawn till dust each day.

This required that many early communities of farmers such as those at Mickleham and Euroke to get together and form their own early schools such as the Mickleham Methodist Church School along Mt. Ridley Rd and the Euroke Free Church School a few miles north of the present day Greenvale School and south from Mickleham near G.S Brodies run at ‘Dunhelen’.

The map below shows No. 5 as ‘Dunhelen’ where G. S Brodie donated the eight acres the Euroke Free Church School was established on in 1854 and No. 8 as the Greenvale School opened on the 23 March 1868 and No. 2 as the old Mickleham Methodist School on Mt. Ridley Rd and No. 4 as the new Mickleham bluestone school built in 1871 no. 423, not far from the corner of Mt. Ridley and Mickleham Roads. 


The Free Presbyterian Church established a school in 1854 on eight acres of land given by George Brodie approximately where the number 5 is on the map.  Listed on the Denominational School Boards books as the Euroke or Yuroke Free Church School, it was more commonly known as Chalmers Academy named after Thomas Chalmers a Parish minister, popular preacher and social reformer of the Free Church.

Port Philip Herald

Saturday, December 30, 1854 

Chalmers School, Euroke

The Charmers Academy or School as it was known opened and on Tuesday the 2nd of December 1854 the Free Church Presbytery of Melbourne examined the institution in the presence of a large number of parents in the district and others from a distance.  Mr. Miller the teacher, conducted the examination, assisted by the Rev. Dr. Mackay and the Rev. Wm Miller.

The children displayed great readiness and intelligence in replying to the questions put to them on the various subjects brought forward.  Their knowledge of scripture history was most satisfactory, whilst their expertness in arithmetic and geography especially, drew forth the commendations of the present.

The style and elegance of their reading were very superior, as well as the taste and time exhibited in several pieces of music sung and of poetry recited throughout the day. At the conclusion of the examination a number of prizes were which had been supplied through the liberality of several gentlemen interested in the institution were award to the pupils according to there respective merits.

The Dr Rev Mackay then addressed the children on the importance or improving their advantage while in such an institution as this; and took advantage to congratulate the parents of the district on their possessing such an instructor in the head of their local seminary.  There was one cause of regret to him viz. that there was not ever a larger number of scolars enjoying these privileges, but he trusted that on re-opening after the holidays, a considerable number of boarders from a distance would be found and present themselves, as desirous of participating in the benefits to be derived here.

The Rev. Miller said that in coming to this examination he had expected from his previous knowledge of the teacher to find the school in a high state of order and efficiency, and that that these anticipations had been more than realized by the result of the days work.

The teacher then announced the two silver medals had been kindly promised to the most diligent boy and girl, in all branches, throughout next session, the gifts of Rev. Wm Miller and Mr. Robert Lawson of Melbourne. 

By reference in our advertising columns it will be soon that this institution re-opens on for the session 1855, on Monday the 22nd of January an from what we have heard of Mr. Miller as an educationist combined with beauty and healthfulness of the locality.  We can confidently recommend this establishment to the attention of the parents and guardians.

Port Philip Herald

Saturday, December 30, 1854 

Board and Education - Chalmers’ Institution, Euroke by Somerton, 12 miles from Melbourne, on the Great Sydney Road.

Mr. J S Miller, Head Master

This institution will be re-opened for the session 1855, on Monday, 22nd January.  The course of instruction embraces the various departments of English, Grammar, Geography, Composition, &c with Latin, Greek, French, and Mathematics.

Terms: Board and Education, sixty Guineas per annum Laundress four guineas per ditto. 

References in Melbourne may be made to the

Rev Dr Mackay, Dr. Cairns, Wm Miller

Euroke, December 1854.

According to correspondence Dr Adam Cairns above, wrote to the board in March 1855 in support of the school’s claim for funds as did the Rev. Dr. Mackay who said  “The teacher is very superior and qualified by his experience and his devotedness to his labours to render that school a seminary of very high standing and character”. 

The following described in part how a Scots school operated:

That in the tuition of the Scholars, religious instruction be combined with secular education, the school to be opened each morning and closed each afternoon by prayer, the Bible used as a classbook.  The Questions of the Shorter Catechism committed to memory, in short, the School be assimilated as nearly as possible to the parochial schools of Scotland.'    (PROV VPRS 61 Unit 5 Item 55/460)

When Inspector Sasse visited the school in 1860 he described the current teacher, William Knox, as incompetent. (Bulla Bulla)

In 1867, the decision to establish a "common" school in Greenvale brought much outcry from residents who had their children enrolled at Bulla School number 42 at Oaklands Junction and Euroke School number 230, as these schools were destined for closure.

In a letter from Robert Langford Sidebottom to the Board of Education dated 5th of March 1867 he put forward that  ‘I am requested by the board of the Mickleham Common School to inform you that they fully concur with the Inspector General of schools relative to the removal of aid from the Euroke School to the school about to be erected at (I think the name is) Greenvale some miles distant’ and that ‘As to the children at present attending at Euroke nearly the whole of them could be educated in the school at Mickleham as the last mentioned school is quite as near for them as Euroke’. (PROV)

In fact some of the attendees of the Euroke School resided very close  to the newly built Mickleham School but no doubt the decision to what school the child attended may have been of a religious nature as the Euroke Free School was Presbyterian.

Attending Euroke School situated in Mickleham Rd not far from the corner of Craigieburn and Mickleham Roads in 1867 were the children of:

Robert Barclay Stephenson (Tulloch Farm), William Cole (Quedgley Farm), John Edis, (Postmaster Bush Cottage), White (Mt. Ridley Rd) and William Pither (Farmer and Gardener Euroke).

The school closed in 1871 and the pupils were transferred either to Greenvale School or Mickleham.

Proceedings - by Scotland free church, gen. assembly - 1858

AW Sinclair, still labouring under bodily weakness, has opened an academy at Euroke, Victoria

Head Teachers employed under the Denominational Schools Board, during the Quarter ending 30th Sept 1857 (PROV VPR 875/P0/1)

Sinclair, Alexander W, Free, Euroke - ₤100

Assistant Teachers employed under the Denominations School Board during the Quarter ending 30th Sept 1857. (PROV) 

Sinclair, Elizabeth, Free, Euroke - £30

After Alexander and Elizabeth Sinclair's appointment as head teacher and assistant teacher at Euroke Free Church School they were required to sit for teachers certificates and they were examined on the following subjects reading, writing, English, grammar, arithmetic, outlines of descriptive geography and the art of Teaching

'It is expected that all Head Teachers of Schools will qualify themselves for the First Division and All Assistants for the second Division, within a reasonable time after their appointment'.

Teacher’s Certificate (PROV)

First Division of Ordinary Teachers

From 1851 to 1859

Sinclair, A W, 1857
Sinclair, Elizabeth, 1/1/58 Euroke F? C

It was also noted 'that the term Ordinary Teacher is employed to distinguish those who have been examined only in the subjects mentioned above, from such as may hereafter be classed at any future Examination for Honors.  It is not intended to convey the idea that those who are thus designated are unable to pass an examination in higher subjects and 'the holder of a Certificate of the First Division is not entitled to receive Pupil Teachers, without passing a further Examination in Geometry, Algebra, Mensuration and Natural Science'. (PROV)

A list gives Paterson, David, 1/10/58 Euroke FC and Knox, George, 1854. (PROV) 1 April 1860 to Euroke FC so it is possible that the Sinclairs left in 1858 and David Paterson taught till George Knox was transferred from the school he was teaching at in 1854 and took over at the free school in 1860.

The school also had other uses as the inaugural meetings of the Broadmeadows Road Board was held there and such a meetings at the Euroke Free Church School or Chalmers Academy was held on the 15th of March 1858, under the chairmanship of Donald Kennedy who opened the meeting which was called for the purpose of forming a Road Board for the parishes or Will Will Rook, Euroke and Mickleham.


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