We hold many public school admission registers, which document children's school admission and attendance from the 1870s to the 1990s. Records from different schools are regularly transferred to our custody.

We also hold records about the establishment of public schools and their administration. We rarely hold school photographs or year books. The State Library of South Australia holds published works produced by schools.

Access conditions

School admission registers are open for general public access after 30 years.

School journals and disciplinary matters are usually open after 60 years.

Digitised records

FamilySearch volunteers are digitising and indexing many of our school admission registers, which are available online, along with copies of school admission registers taken from microfilm.

You can search by pupil name within the collection: Australia, South Australia, School Admission Registers, 1873-1985. (Note: Works best on Google Chrome or Mozilla FireFox browsers and you will need to sign up for a free account.)

Not all school admission registers have been digitised and published. You can view original registers at our Research Centre or ask us for a digital copy through our Copying and Digitisation Services.

Decorative Image - GRS 14775/1, unit 1, Admission Register, Gordon School, Departmetn for Education and Child Development

Finding your own records

If you have left school in the past 15 years, contact your school, as they may still have the admission registers. If the school has closed or does not hold the records contact the Records Management Unit at the Department for Education.

For school results contact the SACE Board of South Australia who can help access SACE certificates, Senior Secondary Certificates, Matriculation, Leaving and Intermediate Certificates.

To obtain past TAFE SA results and qualifications see www.tafesa.edu.au, or call 1800 882 661. If applying for a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE SA, first clarify requirements for the application by contacting TAFE SA on (08) 8417 0501.

If you are applying for nursing registrations complete the TELG-40 form on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website, rather than sourcing school admission information.

Researching the records

You can search for school admission registers on our catalogue ArchivesSearch to see if we hold the records.

Use a Keyword Search for the name of the school and "AND school". For example, to find records of Port Augusta primary or high schools type: Augusta AND school

You can then check whether the records have been published by FamilySearch, or order the records in our Research Centre, or ask us for a copy of the records using our Copying and Digitisation service.

Some registers are only available to view on microfilm in our Research Centre because we do not hold the original registers.

Types of records

School admission registers are among the most useful records we hold for family and social history. These registers follow a standard format and contain some or all of the following information:

  • date of admission of student;
  • date of birth of student;
  • name of parent or guardian;
  • home address of student;
  • name and dates of previous school/s attended; and
  • date and reason for leaving the current school.

Not all admission registers created by government primary and secondary schools are in State Records’ custody. Some may still be held by schools, by local history groups, or may not have survived.

Most records relating to schools were created by the Colonial Secretary’s Office, Central Board of Education, Education Department and individual schools.

Key facts

Early schools 1836 - 1847

The South Australian School Society (the Society) was formed in 1836, to promote occupational training and higher branches of learning. Frustrated by poor economic conditions, the Society ceased operations in 1843.

Other early schools included Miss Nihill's Ladies' School and a school established by the Rev. T. Q. Stow, first Minister of the Congregational Church. 

Lutheran missionaries from Dresden started the first school for Aboriginal children in 1839.

Public education 1847 onwards

In 1847 an Ordinance was passed which authorised a government salary per pupil to teachers whose schools had at least twenty pupils enrolled. Parents were still required to pay school fees.

The Education Act 1851 promoted education by the payment of salaries to teachers, the erection of school buildings, the establishment of a book depot and the inspection of assisted schools.

No records of pupil admissions appear to have survived from this period, although the Central Board of Education minutes and correspondence provide evidence of teachers and other school matters.

The modern system of compulsory school attendance and the payment of teacher’s salaries by the State began in 1875.

Regulations introduced in 1885 required head teachers to keep records including admission registers, inspector's registers and punishment books. Inspectors' registers and admission registers are the most commonly held records in our collection.