One of four model schools in the city, the Sturt Street School was built for children living in the southwest corner. Like the Model School on Grote Street, it was designed to give new teachers a chance to train in a classroom.
The large two-storey building opened in June 1883 with 821 enrolled students. Remodelling in 1910 gave it more convenient passageways, and modern windows for better lighting and ventilation. It also changed classroom sizes and levelled the raised-step floors.
The craftsmanship of this building's masonry is impressive. The bluestone has been carefully dressed in horizontal bands with bricks of red and light brown brick. There is a prominent pointed brick arch to the main entrance.
Many inner-city schools closed as the surrounding population declined from the 1940s. Sturt Street and Gilles Street schools remained. After the Second World War, there was an influx of new migrant families, particularly from the Greek community. The Sturt Street School was then classified as a new arrivals school. This trend of students from new migrant communities went on into the 1980s, when Southeast Asian refugees arrived in South Australia.
Enrolments eventually dropped and in 1996 the school was closed. However, after a strong community campaign it reopened in 2003.