In the 1940s and 1950s there was a movement to consolidate small rural schools into one larger school. This was partly a response to a shortage of teachers, due to many male teachers enlisting during the Second World War. The War also caused a shortage of materials and labour and many Schools fell into disrepair. The Education Department decided that Pakenham would be one of the first six Consolidated Schools to be established and that all schools within 8 kms or 5 miles would be closed and beyond that, the Schools would have an option.
The Pakenham Consolidated School was officially opened on May 29th, 1951 with 258 pupils, on the site of the Pakenham State School, No.1359, in Main Street. The Head Master was Charles Hicks. The School offered classes up to Year 10 (Form 4). The schools that formed the Consolidated School were Pakenham Upper, Pakenham South, Toomuc Valley, Army Road, Mount Burnett, Tynong, Tynong North, Nar Nar Goon North, Nar Nar Goon South, Rythdale, Officedale, Cora Lynn and Koo-Wee-Rup North (Five Mile). Some communities appreciated the opportunities that their children would get from a larger School whilst other parents felt the distance to be travelled by bus and the larger class sizes were a disadvantage.
The School consisted of new buildings, which at the time cost one hundred thousand pounds, and many of the old School buildings. Some towns did not realise that their School buildings would be removed from the sites and transfered to Pakenham, and thus the town would lose a community meeting place. By 1966, when the photograph below was taken, Pakenham Consolidated School had 550 primary students and 94 post-primary students. There must have been a space shortage, because my Grade 2 classes were all conducted down the street at the Anglican Church hall. Our teachers, that year, were Mrs Ring then Miss Ahern (who became Mrs Fitzgerald).
The Pakenham Consolidated School moved from its original location in Main Street to its current location in Rundell, Way in 1997.
Much of the information for this piece comes from the paper written by Ron Smith, in 1974, Consolidation, with particular reference to Pakenham Consolidated School. Copy held in the CCLC Archive. Information also taken from Vision and Realisation : a centenary history of State Education in Victoria (Education Department of Victoria, 1973)