Educational Histories


Educational histories are a great way for schools and tertiary institutions to celebrate their past, connect with former and current students and showcase their education institution within the community.

Way Back When specialises in educational history packages, tailored to tell the story of an individual school, set against the backdrop of the wider educational history of Victoria. Our educational histories take the form of a publication and a website. As well as this we offer an Historian in Residence program, coordinated in conjunction with the research phase of the project. Our Historian in Residence works with students to provide a hands-on approach to history, engaging them and the school community with the history project.

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 Historian in Residence: St Mary’s Primary School Dandenong 2018

After the success of the 2014 Historian in Residence program exploring the spirit of Anzac with St Mary’s students, Way Back When was asked to run a second Historian in Residence program to explore the Centenary of Armistice with students. Over a ten-week period Way Back When worked with students of St Mary’s Primary School in Dandenong as their Historian in Residence. One day each week was spent with students from Prep to Grade 6 exploring various themes and ideas relating to the Centenary of Armistice. As we talked about Armistice Day we explored the meaning of Remembrance Day and symbols and ceremonies of remembrance. We also addressed issues like returning from war, loss and love. As always, the perspectives of the students were refreshing and insightful and their questions about war, its futility and the pain and suffering involved challenged us on every level. The residency culminated in a four-day exhibition of the students’ work that was open to the St Mary’s community during the week of Remembrance Day.

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Story and Place: 175 years of St Mary's Primary School Williamstown

Founded in 1842, Williamstown’s St Mary’s Parish Primary School has been identified as the oldest continuously operating Catholic school in Victoria, and is an integral part of the Williamstown community. In 2017, St Mary’s Primary School celebrated its 175th anniversary. To commemorate this significant milestone, the school commissioned a history that celebrates the last 175 years and proudly documents the community that has been fostered during this period.  

St Mary's Primary School is built on a strong tradition of generosity and support within its parish and wider community. This book tells the story of the community's resilience and commitment to the education and wellbeing of the children of Williamstown, and of the many people, both past and present, who have made St Mary's the thriving community that it is today.

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Visionary Foundations: The first 50 years of Monash Business School

On Wednesday 8 April 1964 the recently established Monash University held its first ever graduation ceremony, at which Professor Donald Cochrane presented ten candidates with their Bachelor of Economics. Visionary Foundations traces the history of business and economics at Monash University over its first 50 years, from the establishment of the Faculty of Economics and Politics with just five staff members in 1961, to the launch of Monash Business School with more than 350 academic staff in 2014.  The history explores the development of the school’s unique identity and character, and details the changes and challenges it has faced along the journey. It celebrates Monash Business School’s diversity, innovation and expertise in both teaching and research, its many significant achievements, and the meaningful contributions it has made – and continues to make – to communities across the world. 

 Mordialloc College Alumni Association

Way Back When was engaged by Mordialloc College Alumni Association (MCAA) to develop an overview of the resources currently in the MCAA archive collections, in preparation for the school’s forthcoming centenary celebration. MCAA has gathered a variety of resources already but is actively collecting memories and materials from past students and teachers associated with the school. There is a Facebook page (‘Mordialloc College Alumni Association’) and a dedicated website ( for anyone who might have stories and memories they would like to share.

Mornington Peninsula Intergenerational Oral History Project

Over the past two years Way Back When has been working with Mornington Peninsula Shire on a project focused on gathering oral histories to preserve the unique stories of local communities and personalities. The most recent phase of the project saw Way Back When produce a suite of short documentary-style films that highlight the comparison between 'then and now' by exploring the experiences of education and schooling on the peninsula across generations. The project involved a series of workshops with local primary school students to train them in the discipline of oral history, followed by the students conducting their own oral history interviews with members of the Mornington Peninsula community. The films can be viewed here.

The King David School History Project

The King David School was established after sections of Melbourne’s growing Jewish community recognised that there was a need for a Progressive Jewish day school to complement the existing Orthodox and Zionist Jewish day schools. In February 1978, the doors to The King David School opened and 45 eager students formed the inaugural year.  The aim of this project was to comprehensively capture the important history of the school and share it with the community through a panel exhibition which will be permanently displayed at the school.

History in Place project with the National Trust of Victoria

Way Back When was engaged by the National Trust of Victoria to run a series of History in Place projects at several National Trust sites, including the Port Melbourne Portable Iron Houses and Endeavour Fern Gully on the Mornington Peninsula. This project involved working with local primary schools and creating digital stories using iPad technology about the history and significance of these sites. The History in Place project was developed by the Heritage Council of Victoria, the History Teachers' Association of Victoria and Culture Victoria and provides an innovative and practical way of implementing the new AusVELS history curriculum. Read more on our blog. Here is a sample of the films produced: Endeavour Fern Gully and Gulf Station.

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With Open Arms: 75 Years of St Joseph’s Primary School Springvale

In 2013, St Joseph’s Primary School celebrated its 75th anniversary. Way Back When worked with the school to commemorate this milestone, producing a book and a website celebrating 75 years of St Joseph’s Primary School in Springvale. The story encompasses the enormous change in Springvale as it developed from a small, rural township, to a rapidly industrialising suburb with a growing population. It also examines how the school has embraced innovative new directions while maintaining its links with the past.

As part of the school’s 75 year history project, Way Back When also undertook an Historian in Residence program to engage the students in the process of exploring the past. Our Historian in Residence worked with every class in the school, tailoring activities to suit each year level – from Prep to Year 6. The works created by the pupils were incorporated into the book and the website ( and launched as part of the school’s anniversary celebrations in December 2013.

Building a Community: A History of St Mary's Primary School Dandenong 1912–2012

Founded in 1912, St Mary’s Primary School is an important part of the Dandenong community and has a strong tradition of embracing multicultural richness and respecting and appreciating the diversity of the community. During a century of educating children of Dandenong and surrounding districts, St Mary’s has held true to the philosophy of its founders, the Presentation Sisters, and continues to provide children with a warm and caring environment in which to learn and grow.

In 2012, St Mary’s celebrated its centenary. Way Back When was engaged by the school to prepare a history commemorating the school’s 100th anniversary. Building a Community traces this story and reveals the dedication and community spirit that continues to guide St Mary’s. The history is also presented as a website that features oral history interviews, together with images and a narrative component:

Historian in Residence: St Mary's Primary School Dandenong

After researching and producing the centenary history of St Mary's, in 2014 Way Back When ran an Historian in Residence program to engage the students in the process of exploring the past along the theme of the First World War. Our Historian in Residence worked with every class in the school, tailoring activities to suit each year level – from Prep to Year 6.


Celebrating 70 Years of Bialik College

The year 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the Bialik School in Drummond Street, Carlton. Then a kindergarten and Hebrew school, Bialik provided a style of Jewish education deeply rooted in Zionism, Hebrew and traditional Jewish culture. Named after the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik, the school was the vision of a dedicated group of founders who worked tirelessly to build this radical school to educate and serve the children in the thriving Jewish community based in and around Carlton in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Bialik College story is one of foresight, dedication and community. Way Back When was commissioned to tell this story in a temporary exhibition that was on display at the school in June 2012. The exhibition explored the school’s foundation, its campuses over time and Bialik’s role as a pioneering education provider, and also featured profiles of 25 founders, principals and personalities in the school community. An online version of the exhibition can be found here:


Gathering Strength: 50 Years of Engineering at Monash University

In March 1961, the very first students to study at what was then the new Monash University stepped onto the semi-rural Clayton campus. Among this first student body was a small group of 23 Bachelor of Engineering students. This history – which takes the form of a comprehensive interactive website and a printed publication – marks the 50th anniversary of this first student intake. It celebrates the outstanding achievements of the Faculty of Engineering over this relatively short period of time.

Within the pages of the book and the website ( visitors are taken on a journey that narrates the history of Monash, the emergence of the Faculty, and the development of its unique character. Bringing together stories of former and current staff and students with records, photographs, audio documentaries and film footage, the two forms tell the history of the Faculty and the development of its highly identifiable character. They also document the extraordinary commitment of the many people, organisations and supporters that have made Monash Engineering what it is today.   

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From Ferranti to Faculty: Information Technology at Monash University, 1960 to 1990

This commissioned history tells the story of the foundation of the first faculty dedicated to computing and information technology in Australia. Covering the period from the late 1950s until 1990 when the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology at Monash University was formed, it spans the establishment phase of the discipline of computing. During this time, this field of study was developing and changing at a rapid rate, arguably faster than any new discipline in the past. This created enormous challenges and difficulties, as well as wonderful opportunities.

These opportunities were seized upon by visionary people both at Caulfield Institute of Technology (later Chisholm Institute of Technology), and at Monash University. From Ferranti to Faculty traces the foundation and establishment of Monash University’s Faculty of Computing and Information Technology, known today as the Faculty of Information Technology. It explores the emergence of computing and computer science as new, stand-alone disciplines in the tertiary sector. The history of higher education in Australia provides the backdrop to this story, as does the history of Monash University and the various institutions that occupied what is now the Caulfield campus of Monash University.


Evolution Through Innovation: A History of Marketing Education at Monash

The Caulfield campus of Monash University has been a leader in marketing education for more than thirty years. In the 1970s it was the largest centre of marketing education in the Southern Hemisphere and today, is still one of the biggest providers of tertiary level marketing education in Australia.

2006 marked the 35th anniversary of the first marketing course held at the Caulfield campus. To commemorate this milestone, the Department of Marketing at Monash University commissioned a comprehensive history of the department and of the development of marketing as a discipline. The history documents the department’s journey from pioneers of a little-known discipline to a world-leader in an established and important field of education. It celebrates the proud heritage that underpins this story, commemorating the department’s remarkable evolution and its important contribution to marketing education.


From Blacksmiths to Bachelors: a History of the Caulfield Campus

This project was commissioned by Monash University as part of the Back to Caulfield reunion in November 2005. The exhibition comprises eight panels that explore the history of the Caulfield site, from its origins as a technical school for boys in the 1920s, to its position today as a campus of Monash University. It is a journey from the blacksmith, carpentry and wheelwright courses of the small trade school, to the diplomas and degrees of an international university.

Using a combination of text, images and 3D objects, the exhibition brings to life aspects of the campus experience at different points in its history. Themes include the growth of the campus and its buildings, the student experience, and the development of the institution and pioneering disciplines. The exhibition is on permanent display on level two, B block, Monash University Caulfield campus.


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