Our School History

The Jennings Public School was first established in 1889 and continues to be a leading school in the pursuit of excellence.

The Jennings Public School is virtually opposite to that of the Wallangarra State School (the Queensland School), the two places being separated by the border line.


In 1888, a Mr S. Williams, Officer in charge of customs at Wallangarra, wrote to the New South Wales Department of Public Instruction suggesting that instead of the schools then operating, a more centrally located school should be opened on the New South Wales side of the border at Jennings. He went on to explain that the school operating on the Queensland side of the border at Wallangarra was, “overcrowded and not working well”. During that year the Inspector visited the district and found Mr Williams’ correspondence to be correct.


With the construction of the Railway at Wallangarra the Inspector said, “I am of the opinion that circumstances point to the likelihood of a flourishing school being established at Jennings.”


He further stated that, “……I would suggest that a school building be erected to accommodate 50 pupils, and such width as to admit of its being readily extended.”


In the beginning the population of Jennings was not large but most of the residents appeared to be of permanent status. Jennings was the terminus of the Northern Railway line where the Queensland service from Brisbane joined it. The Inspector at the time also suggested that, “the New South Wales families evidently preferred the school system of New South Wales colony.”


In February of 1889 the residents, led by Mr Williams and Mr James E. Smith lodged a formal application for a school. The community had to guarantee sufficient attendance to warrant a school. The application was approved and a plan drawn up.


During 1895-96, Jennings School attendance fell and the school was down-graded. The reason for this was explained by a Mr Dalton (teacher); “Within  half a mile of Jennings School is the Queensland School at which pupils are received free of charge, while at ours the fees have to be paid and rather than declare themselves unable to pay the fees, parents send their children over the border….” This situation plagued Mr Dalton for years but no one seems to know when this fee was abolished.


Mr Dalton continued to teach at Jennings and the Inspector was reported as saying; “ This teacher is unusually well preserved, vigorous and alert, in my opinion he is quite capable of carrying out his duties efficiently for a further period of twelve months”-he was 60. Unfortunately Mr Dalton passed away on January 15, 1923, three days after his 63rd birthday.


In the years to come, Jennings Public School was to experience a rapid succession of Principals. Mr J. E. Carter relieved for six months, followed by Sydney Whaites.


This pattern of yearly change was to continue, with changes every year until 1927, when the children experienced three Principals in the one year. Locals recall that, “our school work suffered during that unsettling time and many pupils went over to the Queensland school.” 


In 1928 a Frederick Ward was appointed Principal, followed by Charles Steele in 1931 who stayed for two years. John Dowling followed in 1933 and remained in the school for eight years until he enlisted during World War II.


In 1948 Mr J. N. Dempsey became Principal. Jennings was then classified as a two-teacher school but there was only one classroom. A temporary partition was erected so that the junior classes (Kindergarten, Year 1 and 2) could be taught separately. It was some time before a second building was provided. During this period of post war years as Australia recovered from the ravages of war there was much change. These were times of no clerical or teacher’s aides, and librarians did not appear in schools of this size. Mr Dempsey continued at Jennings until 1953.


Gordon Handsaker took over in 1954 until 1958. This gentleman had a particular talent for music and while he was Principal  Jennings had a wonderful choir.


In 1959 Jennings Public School received a ‘walk-in’ doll’s house. This building was a disused Army shed and was a special treasure of Jennings Public School until recently when this building had to go. There is now a ‘memorial’ garden where this house stood.  The children decided that this doll’s house had to have a kitchen, lounge room and bedroom. Everyone found something to donate in the way of utensils and furniture and mothers were enlisted to make the bedspread and curtains.


A competition was started to name this doll’s house. The children submitted many names and John McCrystal’s suggestion “Rainbow Cottage” was declared the winner.


The years 1959-1963 saw a Mr William Straker take the helm. At this time the grounds were quite extensive but lacked any real facilities except the tennis court which was used regularly by the P & C ladies. There were two school buildings, one larger and obviously the first building to be set up, the other was a short distance away and was smaller, this housed the infants children.


During Mr Straker’s time there were many excellent teachers in charge of the infants children-Dorothy Moore, Nan Bailey and Margaret Landers. During this time Mr Straker states, “The Jennings children who came under my care were admirable in so many ways. They were keen to learn, to master new challenges, to participate in all activities, often displaying great initiative. Their numbers were  not so many, yet they formed a very tightly-knit unit. They had self-respect, were proud of their school and always did it honour when the opportunity arose.”


Mr K. R. Arnold became Principal 1964-65 and John Richards followed in1966 through to 1968.  1966 saw ninety plus pupils and two classes. An additional teacher and building was necessary.


The red and white uniform was introduced for sporting ventures during this time. The new classroom was finally built, the Army Golf Clubhouse, complete with bar and shower, was purchased for $60.00. The then P & C raised the required sum of $500 to transport this building to the school site. The ladies then converted the bar area to a stage, complete with sliding curtains and backdrops whilst the shower end became an art/craft facility. This building today is used as the library but the stage is still there an a major focus for all of our performances.


Mr Ray Warren appeared in 1969 and was preceded by Mr Gordon Egan in the years 1970-73. The enrolment at this stage was fairly steady, at about seventy children and three staff members. One teacher took K, 1, 2 another took 3 and 4 and Mr Egan took 5 and 6.


1985-87 saw Gary Colless take over as ‘Headmaster’ of Jennings. The school population was then twenty-six. Jennings was placed on the then Disadvantaged Schools Program (DSP), a Commonwealth funded program. 


Lincoln Emms became ‘Headmaster’ in the years 1988-89. Student enrolment rose to forty during this period.


The Principal’s preceding myself were Rita Campbell, Jim Walsh, Tony Bush and Glenn Druitt. I arrived with my three children ready to commence the 2004 school year. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of ‘coming home’ that my children and I experienced as we settled in to Jennings. Our enrolments went from 11 in 2003 to 24 in 2004.  2005 saw us with 23 and this year sees us with 21. This school is proudly supported by the wonderful parents and the local Jennings/Wallangarra community.


Jennings is now a part of the Priority Schools Funding Program-PSFP- (this used to be DSP) and are also proudly a part of the Country Areas Program (CAP). Through PSFP and Staffing Supplement we run with two teachers, Mrs Robyn Koch and Mrs Lorri Taal running the Kinder, Year 1 and 2 class and myself teaching on the 3-6 class. Mr Glenn Taylor comes in once a week to teach music. We have quite an impressive music program and our children have learnt to play drums, guitar, keyboard, flute, fife, recorder and now marimba. We have an Italian LOTE (Language Other Than English) program which is taught by Mrs Jenny Dunn. Currently we are running a Japanese Immersion program to assist our students who are off to Tenterfield High School, Mr Brad Laurie runs this program and  Cheryl Cartwright is our School Administrator Manager.


I am looking forward to many more years at Jennings.


All quotes and information gathered was obtained from the Jennings Public School Centenary Book, 1880-1990.




Our School from Pre-1950 era

If at anytime, while you are browsing through our site, you have a question don't hesitate to call us at 61 7 4684 3273 or send us an e-mail at jennings-p.school@det.nsw.edu.au.

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