The seeds of the first formal Government schools in South Australia had their early beginnings around 1838. The Lutheran school in Hahndorf began in 1839.
In many ways that school, St Michael’s Lutheran School, reflects the early history of Lutheran learning communities in SA. It was commenced to support the community of migrants from Germany that had fled religious persecution and settled in areas such as Klemzig, the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley. These were schools birthed to support the children of their community and their parents who expected high standards of learning. That absolute commitment to community and learning remains today.
However, the Lutheran schools were not just for ‘their own’. On the banks of the River Torrens at a place known as Pirltawardli (previously often referred to as PiltaWodli), the Dresden Missionaries as they are sometimes referred to, established a school in 1838 for Kaurna children who were living in that area. This school is arguably the oldest school in SA. Today it is recognised that those German missionaries were quite radical for the times. They learnt, spoke, taught-in and recorded the Kaurna language - and spoke highly of the knowledge and skills of the children. Again, in many ways the values established on the banks of the Torrens have shaped the 182 years of teaching and learning tradition since.
These Lutheran schools were being established and building their reputation from the very beginnings of the state of SA. Since then, Lutheran schooling has spread with learning communities being established across Australia. Lutheran Education SA, NT & WA (LESNW) represents some 42 co-educational schools, Early Learning Centres, Kindergartens and Child Care Centres. See ‘Our Learning Communities’ for more information.