Pulteney was established by the enterprise of those who sought opportunity and valued education. Pre-dating the introduction of government sponsored education, the school offered a plain and useful education. A small building sat on Pulteney St to cater to 50 students in its first year, 1847. As the school grew, so did its ambition to establish itself as one of Adelaide’s meritorious independent schools. Although its humble beginnings are never forgotten, and its motto:o prosper thou our handiwork, still resonates, Pulteney is at the forefront of contemporary teaching methods, innovative learning spaces and tailored educational experiences. The School is ideally situated in the central business district; a participating member of the greater city and a community that both draws from and contributes to the city of Adelaide. Pulteney is pushing the boundaries of education to pursuit hands-on learning practices. This is achieved by partnering with businesses and universities to expand opportunities for students to learn from a diverse range of educators and nurture entrepreneurial, social, and technical skills.
Pulteney staff and students are proud of their school. The sense of camaraderie is felt through all year levels as students are valued stakeholders who contribute to their learning spaces and take on leadership responsibilities at a young age.
From the start of their schooling, Pulteney students are given the support, resources, guidance to be confident learners. They are encouraged to take control of their learning pathways. To build strong relationships and participate in Pulteney life.
The Pulteney experience is a term used to describe what one can expect when joining the Pulteney community. It encapsulates what is offered to students for their whole education as well as how this involves other members including families and Pulteney staff. The School’s characteristics have evolved over the decades however, it distinctly remains a place where students can come for an meaningful education together with memories and friendships to last a lifetime.
175 Years of Pulteney
As written by the 2022 School Captains and Vice Captains
1847 – 1900
1847 was a year of innovation and contrivance, the first ever pistol was created, the United States issued its first postage stamps and the Bronte sisters published Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights. 1847 also bore witness to the opening of the Pulteney Street School. An incredible feat for a tiny school, Pulteney Street School began with just 27 pupils, both male and female, and grew at a rapid pace.
Mr Miller, the first ever principal of Pulteney Street School was the lone staff member, teaching all students until the school had grown too rapidly and he enlisted the help of Mrs Emma Mitchell to take care, primarily of the girl’s education. The senior classes of the Pulteney Street School boasted a variety of subjects, stemming from writing and grammar to mental arithmetic, to geography and history. Whilst we find most of these subjects enlisted in our school’s curriculum today, perhaps the most dramatic change since then has been the school fee’s, originally stated at 2 shillings and 6 pence, which converts now to 46 cents.
Across the now 175 years of education, Pulteney Grammar School has seen the reign of twenty-two principals, however the shortest belongs to that of Mr William Owen who served the school for a whopping three months. Mr Owen’s short govern would come 44 years prior to Mr William Nichols, 41-year record serve as Principal of Pulteney Grammar School.
- Addi Schwartz, 2022 School Captain
1900 – 1950
Pulteney’s history from 1900 to 1950 was most prominently defined by war. Three early 20th century wars (the two World Wars and the Boer War) claimed the lives of approximately 130 Old Scholars, leaving an immense hole in the community of a school grieving the premature deaths of so many young people.
As well as war, other significant events in the history of Pulteney occurred in the first half of the 20th century. Remarkably, for most of this period the school was led Mr William Percival Nicholls who was headmaster from 1901 until 1942. During Nicholls’ reign, the school moved to South Terrace from its original home, the prefect system was introduced, and the school’s name was changed from Pulteney Street School to Pulteney Grammar School.
Returning to the subject of war, Pulteney’s resilience during wartime indicates that the school has and always will be a resilient establishment that continues to operate no matter how chaotic the world around. While thankfully the current student body and the more recent Old Scholar population have been spared from the immense and severe loss of life a world war causes, the uncertainty we have all experienced as we have watched the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation impinge on so many aspects of our everyday lives is perhaps the closest any of us have come to understanding what it is like to live through a life-changing event like a world war. It is Pulteney’s resilience that has guided us through problems great and small.
- Finn Boylan, 2022 Vice Captain
1950 – 2000
Much Like today, the years 1950-2000 saw Pulteney developing way ahead of its time. This was to ensure students received the best possible educational experience they could due to the continuous development and modernisation of the school. Cannon Ray , the headmaster from 1947 until 1972 saw the cultivation of several buildings including:
- The first gym
- The First library
- The purchase of the Gilles arms hotel – a part of the prep school and
- The purchase of 190 South Terrace
His Successor Mr Jock Mackinnon took the same approach towards his role at Pulteney, which was one of modernisation and school development. In His 10 years, Mackinnon constructed and purchased:
- The Cambrell Building which we have once again seen renovated in the last 6 months
- The Science Classrooms and Prep School were completely upgraded
- The Library was upgraded
- The Overpass was built
- ‘The Old Scholars Club’ or as we know it the footy changerooms, two basketball/tennis courts were built and
- The Tuck Shop was added on to Wyatt Hall
So, whilst Pulteney was always forward thinking, it was also always helped to this by its impeccable community and spirit. During the 80’s, there was some social unrest – Australia’s economy was burning and unemployment was at an all-time high , but this was no match for the Navy-Blue spirit.
As Principal Mr Michael Smee (84’ – 93’) said, “The School community, in the persons of the Parents and Friends committee, The Pulteney Old Scholars’ Assosciations and other bodies have indeed rallied behind the school om the intervening years.” This community spirit and forward-thinking movement from the Leadership and other bodies is what help set Pulteney on its path moving into the Late 90’s.
- Harry Oates, 2022 School Captain
2000 – 2022
In 1999 Pulteney welcomed 70 girls to its campus. It was undeniably a monumental occasion in the schools history. The same year that fifty iMac computers arrived, ensuring Pulteney’s step into the 21st century.
The change to coeducation was a great success, and I would like to acknowledge and thank Miss Guilfoyle for the role she played as Girls Advocate during this period. Coeducation was no easy feat, there were of course inconveniences and questions that needed answering – like what uniforms and sports competitions and bathrooms. As well as Miss Kimber’s newly instated ‘Ruler rule’ by which each girl and boy would have to maintain at the very least a rulers length away, a far cry from the social distancing of today.
Fast forward to 2010, and Pulteney welcomed Principal Dr Groughan who was fondly remembered by one student for joining in on a Muck Up day choreographed dance. In 2017, when much of my Year 12 class arrived Pulteney celebrated its 170th birthday with 600 guests at the Adelaide Oval – demonstrating our sense of community. Later on in 2020, we would all play a part in Pulteney’s history books as it experienced the genesis of ‘Pulteney at Home’.
In 2022, we celebrate not just where Pulteney has come from – but where we strive for it to go.
- Lily Koch, 2022 Vice Captain