School of the Air

The Alice Springs School of the Air is probably the most publicized school in Australia, and one of the few unique educational institutions of the world.  When established in 1951, it was the first school of its type in the world.  Although there are now a number of Schools of the Air in most states of Australia, the Alice Springs school has always been associated with the outback image.    

Each of the Schools of the Air now operating in Australia, with the exception of Katherine and the Capricornia Centre in Rockhampton, started by using the facilities of the Royal Flying Doctor Service; and most still do.  However in the Northern Territory, the Alice Springs and Katherine schools operate out of their own buildings using their own radio frequencies and broadcasting equipment.

In other states, Schools of the Air are extensions of the States' various Education Department correspondence schools. The two Northern Territory schools provide correspondence courses and radio lessons with two-way radio, as well as teacher visits to students at home.

The Alice Springs School of the Air provides an educational service for about 140 children living on properties or in communities covering 1.3 million square kilometres of Central Australia.
Snap Shot


1951 (Australia's first)


1.3 million square kilometres
Approximately 140
From four to 12/13 years
14 teachers
8 to 18
Northern Territory Department of Education
Supplied by the School.  Parents pay a resource fee of $100 per year.
High Frequency - School has own frequency, 3 channels
Approximately 30% of families employ a home tutor

General Information

How many Aboriginal students?

Currently there are 36. The major obstacle for Aboriginal children is that the English language correspondence lessons require supervision at home by an adult with good English language reading and writing skills.

Where is the furthest student?

Just over 1,000 kms from Alice Springs.

How much radio time?

Students spend up to half an hour on the radio each day. Each student also has a personal, 10 minute lesson with the class teacher once a week. The radio lessons are supplementary to the correspondence work done at home.

How much correspondence work?

Students spend 5 to 6 hours a day, five days a week, working on their lessons at home. The lessons are prepared by teachers at the school and supervised by an adult in the child's home.

Who supervises the lessons?

Most often the child's parents, usually mum. Only 30% of families currently employ a home tutor.

Source:      (Association of Schools of the Air)

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