Creating a school for girls’ liberal education
“The future comes not from beofre to greet us but streams up from behind." - Lauristonian editorial, 1935
Lauriston Girls’ School was established by Margaret and Lilian Irving, daughters of the eminent Victorian educator Professor Martin Howy Irving. When our school opened its doors in 1901, there were 12 students. From this inaugural year Lauriston offered Matric (Year 12) subjects were offered tuition up to the equivalent of Year 12, with the very first student on our school roll, Geddes Hammond, passing her Matriculation in French, German, History, Algebra, Drawing and Geometry at the end of 1901.
Lilian and Margaret Irving were committed to providing an education that would empower young women through academic excellence, sporting involvement and a focus on the importance of living purposeful and fulfilling lives. Despite its small size, within fifteen years Lauriston offered a surprisingly comprehensive curriculum for its students sitting the Public Exams (equivalent of Years 11 and 12), including English, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Physiology, History, Drawing, Geography, Music, French, German and Latin. Students could also study Elocution, and Scripture, and take extra classes in drawing, music, dance and needlework.
Lauriston soon acquired a reputation for academic and sporting excellence. Enrolments grew rapidly, and in November 1907 the Irving sister moved their school moved to its present site in Huntingtower Road, Armadale. Lauriston’s first university graduate was Dorothy Andrews, who obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Melbourne in 1916. Two girls obtained university qualifications the following year, and the number of girls completing university study continued to grow.
Kindergarten was introduced, and 202 small boys passed through the School (in Kindergarten and transition [Prep] classes) between 1911 and 1930.
Lauriston had boarders from 1905 to 1953. The first Lauriston boarders were housed off school premises in the home of a Mrs Horne.
In 1913, the numbers boarders increased to the extent that they had to be relocated to a larger building at 32 Mercer Road, Armadale, called “Lauriston House”. In 1920 a second boarding house, “Wykeham Lodge”, was opened for junior boarders at 8 (now 104) Malvern Road.
In 1923 the senior boarders were relocated from the old to a new “Lauriston House”, at a property formerly known as “Mt Wise” at 29 Mercer Road.
By 1932, with the Great Depression and decreasing student numbers, the Irving sisters closed their boarding houses and moved the remaining boarders onto the school grounds into former classrooms that had been converted into dormitories. Boarders lived at the Armadale campus until the end of 1953. After that, Lauriston only enrolled day students, until the establishment of Howqua in 1993.