History of School of the Air
Learning through correspondence is offered by School of the Air. The school offers early secondary education and primary education to children in Australia’s remote locations. Regular schools are rarely built in these areas due to a low school-age population. Previously classes were conducted through radio network which was maintained by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This technology has been replaced by internet technology which is faster and more efficient.
The first school of the Air was established at Alice Springs on 8th June 1951. The broadcasting team was led by Mr. Kissel who worked at Alice Springs Higher Primary School. The concept, trial and initial set up of the School of the Air was done by Adelaide Miethke. She was a Council member of the (FDS) Flying Doctor Service South Australia branch. In 1944 she suggested educational talks to be given to children via two-way radio in remote areas of Australia. Discussions were made by the Director of the Flying Doctor Service Mr. Pitts and the Education Assistant Supervisor, Mr. Dodd at Alice Springs Higher Primary School (Mr. Dodd was the headmaster of the school.) and Miss Miethke to set up the school. Special Premises were built to offer children equal education to children located in other areas of Australia. Radio Network was used to offer children education and broadcasts were made via HF Radio
Initially, lessons were offered and students listened in without giving feedback but to enhance the learning process question and answer sessions were introduced. Special lessons were prepared together with dramatizations in classrooms at the school to ensure the children got the best education at their disposal. In 1953 Miss Molly Ferguson took over as the leader of the broadcasting team. By 1954 a broadcast studio and an observation area were set up at the Anzac Hill High School. In 1958 Mrs. Stiller retired due to ill health and was replaced by Mrs. Nancy Barrett to replace her duties. Every week she visited as many stations as possible using her own car covering the same direction to ensure quality education services in the School of the Air were being offered. Her services were well received by different residents of the outcast areas of Australia that the Commonwealth Government stepped in and provided vehicles and expenses for future patrols to improve the program.
The Alice Springs School of the Air is situated in a 1,300,000 square kilometres of land. It currently has 120 students and 14 teachers who offer quality education services to various parts of the country. The School of the Air was the first to offer two-way radio broadcasts in the world offering education to students who stay in remote parts of Australia to enable face to face lessons to students who didn’t live close to schools. Since 2006 the school incorporated satellite technology to conduct classes. This improved quality of education services being offered together with internet technology to provide the best learning experience to students located in remote areas of Australia.