This was the first two-storey public school to be built in the Colony of South Australia. Its Gothic-derived design is typical of its architect, E.J. Woods. A number of Woods’ city school buildings still survive today including St Paul’s School, located nearby on Flinders Street, and the earlier Model School on Grote Street.
The Flinders Street Model School opened in 1878, just three years after the Education Act passed which made primary education compulsory for the first time in the colony. Like the Grote Street Model School, the purpose of the school was to set a standard for public education in South Australia. The school could accommodate up to 800 students, including babies and young toddlers. Fees to attend the school were based on a means test.
The building had a typical layout for the period, with boys and girls segregated from each other in classrooms and on the playground. Classrooms for boys were located on the first floor and were accessed via a set of stairs at the rear of the building on Daly Street. Girls and infant classrooms were located on the ground floor.
The school was constructed of bluestone with brick quoins and dressings. Like the Grote Street Model School, much attention was paid to the ventilation system at the time of its construction to ensure good airflow throughout the building. The school’s windows were initially quite narrow and were later modified to allow in more light. The only windows not to be changed are those on the north side of the building.
In 1879, the school was renamed the East Adelaide Model School. Later the name was again changed to the Flinders Street Public School. It remained a primary school until 1969 when it became the Flinders Street Adult Education Centre. In 1978, it was taken over by the Adelaide College of Further Education, School of Music. It is now the offices for the Australian Centre for Social Innovation and the Baha’i Council of South Australia.