Fremantle Free Grammar School, a co-educational school, opened on the site in 1856 and later became Fremantle Boys’ School and Princess May Girls’ School. The first permanent building on the site of today’s College was a manual arts building completed in 1943.
John Curtin Senior High School (named after one of Australia’s greatest prime ministers) was founded in 1954 from the merger of Fremantle Boys’ School and Princess May Girls’ School. The College commenced operation in the present building in 1956. For its first ten years the College was one of the largest in the state (2600 students). As other high schools were established in surrounding districts, enrolments declined and the annexes were closed.
John Curtin was the first school in Australia to offer Theatre Arts and Dance as specialist subjects. Programs for Gifted and Talented Dance and Drama students have been offered at the College since 1973.
The school was also the first in Australia to have a specialist Soccer program. Established in 1990, the specialist Soccer Excellence program at John Curtin has firmly established itself as Western Australia’s leading Soccer program in secondary schools.
College of the Arts
In 1999, the Hon Colin Barnett, Minister for Education, approved the proposal to establish a secondary school specialising in The Arts on the site occupied by John Curtin Senior High School. The College was to be a model for how Arts should be integrated into a student’s learning.
In 2000, formal recognition of more than three decades of excellence in The Arts at John Curtin occurred with the re-badging of the school to John Curtin College of the Arts. This was the first step in the process of increasing specialisation for gifted and talented students.
In 2004, the addition of a state-of-the-art performing arts facility was unveiled with the Curtin Theatre, the first building of its kind in a public school in this state.
Selective College of the Arts
In 2008, the first intake of Year 8 students for Gifted and Talented Visual Arts and Music programs were welcomed to and joined the existing Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Drama, Music Theatre and Media Arts GAT programs at the College. With the majority of GAT Arts programs of any school across WA, the College was classified as one of only two selective public schools in Western Australia.
John Curtin College of the Arts was chosen as a selective Arts school due to its long and successful history of delivering quality Arts programs and its provision of a specialised differentiated curriculum for Gifted and Talented Arts students and those identified as academically talented, providing them with opportunities for extension and enrichment.
Independent Public School
In 2009, the Hon Dr Elizabeth Constable MLA, Minister for Education selected the College as one of the first schools in Western Australia to become an Independent Public School.
In recent years the College has been acknowledged as the Western Australian Secondary School of the Year and won the Governor’s School STEM Award for Leadership Excellence.
The evolution of J.C
When building our new website, we decided to take a look into the years of growth and change that our online presence has undergone along the way. With the help of some historical documents and the Internet Archive, we rolled back the clock to the origins of our page in the distant year 1998.
When it went live, the first web page was… bare- by today’s standards there was almost nothing, a short piece of text, and exactly two articles about the performances of that year. Nonetheless, this was the kindling, the spark that would be carried forwards to the future. In the year 2000, our website transformed, entering into an awkward adolescence of scrolling watermarks. It also marked a more important transition. In the year 2000, the College was to be formally dubbed as a ‘College of the Arts’ and it was through the efforts of Tom Dudek, Jacqui Butler, and almost a dozen students that the site was reimagined and completed in all its 800*600 glory in time for the new millennium.
In 2008 after a series of progressive upgrades the site shifted in colour from orange to blue, laying the foundations for design of the 2013 site, which would remain in place for almost 10 years.
Which brings us to now. This website has been quite the journey, to create something that serves users, in the ways that we learned people were using our website- to find us, visit us, learn about our history, and join us.
Although this website has matured, it will continue to grow and this will be another moment in the history of the College.