Co-education and the 1960s

It’s now just three weeks until our “Back to School” exhibition opens at Mascot and there are lots of interesting stories and school memorabilia for you to look forward.

One of the most interesting groups we interviewed was first 4th year of J.J Cahill Memorial School. The school opened in 1961 and all of its students were transferred from neighbouring secondary schools such as Maroubra Junction and Gardeners Road.

J.J Cahill Memorial School, 4th Year 1961
Courtesy of Jan Ellis nee Irwin, the first female School Captain at J.J Cahill
J.J Cahill Memorial School, 4th Year 2012
City of Botany Bay Library & Museum

“It was a shock to the system to me” recalled David Denning. “I went to Gardeners Road and we never mixed. There was a palling fence separating us … It was only the dancing for P.E that we met and what a terrifying session that was!”

“All of us who came from Maroubra Junction School had been to this Domestic Science School and had never had boys in class since primary school … we were so shy. It was so weird walking into a classroom,” remembered Rhonda Horne. 

Janette Ellis recalled “Some girls sat with the boys, but otherwise we all sort of segregated in the same class”.  Today they are all friends and now laugh about the way they once were.


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