A proud history
Cairns School of Distance Education was formerly known as Cairns School of the Air.
Cairns School of the Air was established in 1972, with eleven pupils. The school offered HF radio lessons to children enrolled with the Primary Correspondence School in Brisbane. The Primary Correspondence School provided paper based learning materials to students who were geographically isolated (typically students who lived on remote cattle stations).
During the early years of the Cairns School of the Air, the enrolment steadily grew to a peak in 1986 of two hundred and eighty students and nine teachers. Activity days in various locations throughout the region, and an annual camp were introduced during this time, to help overcome isolation.
Cairns School of Distance Education
The regionalisation of distance education was commenced in 1987 with the opening of centres in Charters Towers and Longreach. The opening of the School of Distance Education in Charters Towers meant the loss of the majority of Cairns School of the Air students, with the enrolment dropping to a little over a hundred. Cairns School of the Air was officially renamed a School of Distance Education in 1990. During this period, the teachers formerly attached to the Itinerant Teaching Service (teachers who travelled to remote areas to provide support and tutoring for students) were relocated to the staff of the Cairns school to assist with the provision of field support.
In 1993 the Cairns School of Distance Education moved from its home of the previous twenty years at the Royal Flying Doctor Service Cairns Base in Edge Hill, to new purpose built facilities in Hoare Street, Cairns. In 1993 the school offered a preschool program for the first time.
In 1995, the transition from a School of the Air to a full preschool to year 10 School of Distance Education was complete, as the school accepted year 10 students for the first time. The school continued to expand its services over subsequent years and currently offers a full educational package from prep to year 12. It also provides Languages other than English (LOTE) and music services to many small rural and regional schools.