History Katherine School of the Air

 

Education of children over the air waves began when the Royal Flying Doctors allowed teachers and students to use their air space in 1951. The conditions were that they would give the space back in case of an emergency, which they always did.
Katherine School of the Air became the first school of its type in Australia operating on its own frequencies and not sharing the Flying Doctor facilities in 1966. Below is a timeline of the key dates in the history of the largest classroom in the world.
 
​1966
Katherine School of the Air was situated in 2nd Street and the studio commenced operating on 14th June, but first radio contact was not made until 12th September when Mr. Ron White, Teacher in Charge, contacted Theresa Chegwidden of Mount Wells Battery. 24 Students and 1 Teacher
​1972
​The first School of the Air gymkhana was held at Victoria River Costello yard. The gymkhanas' were run annually until 1981. Student 35, Principal and 1 Teacher
​1974
​The issuing and marking of correspondence sets commenced with Preschool course being added, aerial patrols were carried out by Ian McIver as teacher/pilot. Plans for the new school building commenced. 267 Students, Principal, 11 Teachers, a Librarian and 2 Administration Staff.
​1977
​The new school building on Giles street adjacent to Clyde Fenton Primary School was completed and occupied. Electives were introduced; News, Play Reading, French, Overseas Penfriends and Speech/Drama. 236 Students, Principal, 13 Teachers (including a teacher/pilot), a Librarian, an Art/Craft Teacher and 4 administration staff.
​1978
​Official Opening of the new building is held on 15th August with Honourable J Robertson the Minster for Education carrying out the opening ceremony. On-air visitors for the ceremony were HRH Princess Alexandria, her husband Mr. Angus Ogilvy and Governor-General Sir Zelma Cowen.
​1980
​Bi-annual school excursions began with the first visiting Melbourne. The “Bush Telegraph” publications commenced twice per year.
​1981
​Mother Teresa (Sisters of Mercy – Calcutta) visited the school and spoke to the children on-air and answered their many questions.
​1982
​The home loan video scheme commenced, allowing students to borrow video records and televisions. Video tapes were incorporated into set work. Singapore and Malaysia were visited by the years 6 and 7 students as the first overseas excursion. Scouts of the Air commenced (1st in the N.T; 2nd in Australia). 211 Students
​1983
​Studio video production comments. Trial programmes start around satellite communication. First Inschool is held which included the first school Sports Day. 200 Students.
​1984
​"Mail Bags" mailing service is introduced and is sponsored by the Connellan Trust. 180 Students
​1986
​Pope's Flying Visit – Pope John Paul II spoke to three Katherine School of the Air children from the plane as he flew to Alice Springs. 217 Students, Principal and 16 Teachers.
​1988
​Grades 6 and 7 Excursion to World Expo Brisbane. School of Air is transmitted from the Expo site. 192 Students, Principal and Assistant Principal.
​1989
​Katherine School of the Air and the Isolated Children's Parents' Association held a joint fundraising venture, called the “Quarantine Checkpoint” at Victoria River Cross for the Redex Trial Vehicles from "Bourke to Broome Bash”. John Farnham, who was in the 1989 Bourke to Broome Bash, was pulled up together with other participants. He took the "Quarantine Inspection" in good style, paid his donation to KSA and received his certificate. Peter Brock and other drivers spoke to KSA students on school radio set-up on site. John Farnham sang "You're The Voice" to the students. The Katherine School of the Air song is born and debut by the songs writer Terry Underwood. 187 Students, Principal, Assistant Principal, 16 Teachers and 7 Administration Staff.
​1991
​The 25th Anniversary of the first On-Air lesson is conducted in the main studio on 12th September. The KSA Tourist Room was established allowing visitors to the school to view teachers conducting On-Air lessons. Mini schools/camps were introduced as well as the annual camp.
​1994
​Year 6 and 7 Excursion Victoria & Tasmania Discover Tour was the first time most students had seen snow. Students 253, Principal, 21 Teachers and 9 Administration staff.
​1995
​First Swim School week is held at the end of Term 4 and included a Christmas concert.
​1996
​The 30th Anniversary of Katherine School of the Air is held.
​1997
​A display of Katherine School of the Air is setup up at the Parallel Convention of Commonwealth Education Minister in Botswana and then tours 10 other commonwealth countries
​1998
​27th January the second day of term 1 the town of Katherine was flooded. A meter of water ran through the school. Teachers taught from their homes in the unaffected area of the town. School resumed as normal on 9th March.
​2000
​Judith Green an elite paralympian visited the school in February and again in November to show the students her gold medal. The official opening of the new Library, mailroom and print room building was carried out in December.
​2003
​The Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) Trials begin.
​2005
​A temporary IDL studio is set up. Radio lessons gradually begin to fade out and are ceased at the end of the year.
​2006
​The new Interactive Distance Learning Studio is officially opened in March.
​2011
​The new classroom is officially opened by Prime Minister Julia Gillard via a live IDL transmission from Northern Territory Open Education Centre in Darwin. The Prime Minister was joined by Minster for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett MP, Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, Senator Chris Evans, Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon MP and NT Minister for Education and Training, Dr Christopher Bruce Burns.
​2012
​Flexible Learning team is introduced due to the need to cater for Middle Years students who require alternative learning pathways who reside in regional settings in Katherine and Darwin. Flexible learning covers medical, behaviour, diagnosed disorders and disengaged students. The Flexible Learning team works with the other agencies to meet the students' educational needs. 248 Students, Principal, 11 Primary Teachers, 5 Middle Years Teachers, 4 Flexible Learning Teachers, 1 Community Engagement Teacher, 3 Tutors and 7 Administration Staff.