For more than 90 years, Bellevue Hill Public School has served the local community in a part of Sydney which, at the beginning of the 20th century, was little more than a picturesque lookout.
In 1891, local residents first raised the need for a school. On behalf of his constituents, William Fleming Latimer MLA asked in 1902 for a public school to be built at Bellevue Hill but the matter was deferred as it was considered that Bondi and Waverley Public Schools were sufficient for local educational needs. However, with a view to the future, an area of land comprising two acres was purchased from Sir Daniel Cooper in 1903.
Strong representations were made from time to time to have the school established. In 1916, a formal application was made, bearing the names of 58 prospective students. As the surrounding schools were filled to capacity, it was finally decided to provide and infants school and initial designs were drawn up.
The matter was again delayed as the Railway Commissioners were negotiating to exchange a portion of the school land to be used for tramway purposes. The community eventually had its way and the Commissioners had to look elsewhere for the proposed tramlines.
In 1920, Woollahra Municipal Council raised the question of a school for the district but lack of funds caused further delay. It was not until 1923 that it was finally decided to proceed with the provision of the school. By this time, a full primary school rather than an infants school was needed and plans were prepared for such a building.
New plans were drawn up and the building process commenced in 1924, with the school opening its gates to its first enrolments on 20 April 1925. Mr Arthur Knight was the first headmaster, assisted by a staff of six.
The school population grew rapidly and it was reported to the Education Department in June 1926 that further accommodation was necessary. An additional parcel of land was purchased and extensions were completed in 1929, with the school soon reaching its capacity of 672.
During the 1930s, enrolments had gradually fallen and, for the most of the 1940s, the school population hovered around the 480 mark. It rose again in the post-war baby boom to reach 850 by 1955 and declined again in the 1960s, falling to 544 in 1970. In 2000, there were about 320 students at Bellevue Hill Public School. The current population has increased to approximately 600 students.
The school has again reached capacity and has gained approval for major capital works which are being undertaken from 2015-2017. The building project will increase the school's capacity to 1000 students and will include a four storey building housing 24 new classrooms and a library, a refurbished administration area, a canteen and the extension of the existing Covered Outdoor Learning Area (COLA).
Information sourced from Bellevue Hill Public School Anniversary Book 1925-2000.