School closures – Summer 1980-81

23 April 2018 | Posted In: #133 Autumn 2018, Education, From the Vault,


With population increasing quickly, the time has come to reinvest in inner city schools. Between the 1980s and 2000s, many inner city schools closed. Inner Voice, in December 1980, reported the proposed inner Sydney high school closures as the first time a state school would close since World War II.

School Closures

Five inner city and Eastern Suburbs high schools will be shut by the State Government over the next 5 years because of falling student numbers. It will be the first time a State high school has been closed since World War II.

As part of a 10 million dollar reorganisation, the Government has also decided to build a new high school in Glebe and convert Vaucluse Boys High School to a co-educational high school.

The changes will begin on 1982 and are expected to be completed by 1985. Students from the closed schools will be moved gradually to nearby schools.

The decision, made by the State Cabinet on December 17, 1980, means that all single-sex comprehensive high schools in the inner city and Eastern Suburbs will be shut. The selective inner city high schools, Sydney Boys High and Sydney Girls High will remain single-sex schools.

The schools to be closed are:

  • Cleveland Street Boy High School,
  • Waterloo High School,
  • Heights Boys High School,
  • Newtown Boo High School,
  • Wilkins High School, Marrickville.

The announcement follows reports last month by two working parties looking at the future of high schools in the inner city and Eastern Suburbs. It is understood that the Government’s decision follows closely the majority reports of the two working parties.

The Teachers’ Federation representatives on both working parties opposed the majority reports and gave the minister alternative reports which would have kept all the high schools open with smaller enrolments. (see Inner Voice, No 17, p47).

Teachers’ Federation President, Barry Manefield, said he expected teachers to be ‘very angry’ because they had not been consulted before the announcement as promised by the Minister.

The Teachers’ Federation Conference held in December last year voted that teachers at Dover Heights Boys High would refuse transfers if the school was closed. Dover Heights Boys High has been the centre of industrial disputes for several years. It has been an open secret for several months that the school would be one of the first to close if the Government adopted any or all of the working party’s report.

Job Losses

The school closures mean the possible loss of 75 teaching positions. This is despite the fact that there are already more than 8,000 teachers waiting for jobs and an additional 4,700 new teachers expected to enter the labour market in 1981.

Teachers’ Federation unemployment officer Steve Storey says 9 out of 10 teachers graduating in NSW in 1981 will not get permanent jobs for 5 years.

The changes at a glance are:


  • Cleveland St Boys High School and Waterloo High School, moving to new premises in Alexandria.
  • Dover Heights Boys High School and Dover Heights Girls High School, using the girls school site.
  • Newtown Boys High School and Petersham Girls High School, using the girls school site.
  • Randwick Boys High School and Randwick Girls High School. The two schools are on adjoining sites.
  • Marrickville High School and Wilkins High School, using the Marrickville school site.


  • Vaucluse Boys High School.


Glebe High School. Students are now on the site in demountable classrooms.

Source: Inner Voice December/January 1981