Croxton Special School — officially opened on June 7, 1957 — was the first school in Victoria to be built specifically for the education of children with learning disabilities. The original building comprised six classrooms in total: two classrooms for juniors, two for intermediates and one each for senior boys and girls, and catered for fifteen girls and seventeen boys at the end of its first year. With the addition of another wing and The Manual Training Centre in 1960s, Croxton later grew to be one of the largest such facilities in Victoria for its time.
Zoe Roffe was appointed Head Teacher in 1957 and held the position for ten years. She oversaw a massive expansion to the school. In 1964, a new wing was built on the south side of the original school building and the old building was extended:
‘ … During the building of the extra wing and extensions, the tone of the school deteriorated markedly. This was brought about by the near total disruption of school life by the builders. For a whole year tractors and bulldozers were roaring outside classroom windows whilst a dozen or more workmen noisily and often carelessly demolished parts of the interior of the school … Water was often cut off, builders’ materials, plaster which had been torn from the walls of the demolished rooms, old newspapers, remains of workmen’s lunches, dirty milk bottles, school books, furniture and every other conceivable piece of rubbish littered the school corridor …’
The new wing provided three new classrooms, an art and craft room, a homecrafts room, hall, canteen, extra toilet facilities and a boiler room. The staff numbers grew to fourteen plus the Head Teacher.
The Manual Training Centre (former FOCUS room) was opened in 1968 by Lindsay Thompson MLA, Minister of Education. This woodworking facility was a Northcote Lions Club project, with fundraising by the Parents and Friends Association and the Mothers’ Club. Money was raised by door knocks, street stalls and large school fetes. A fundraising dinner was held at the Southern Cross Hotel at which the Governor, Sir Rohan and Lady Delacombe were present. By 1970 the school population had grown to 108, (of which 37 were girls) and staff numbered 15.
In the late 1970s, a modern Primary Department building and gymnasium were added. Student numbers and standards declined over the 1980s, and in the mid-90s Croxton relinquished its southern wing to Baltara School. In the early 1990s, a multi-campus model proposed by Principal Richard Umbers led to the first of ten annexes to be established in surrounding primary and secondary schools. This innovation rejuvenated the school and enrolments climbed to 180 in 2005.
The reversal in the school’s fortunes allowed Croxton to regain its former southern wing from Baltara School in 2009 — adapted from a history written by Owen Dingle in April, 1970
- Mr AR Chapman (temporary)
- Zoe Roffe 1957—1967
- Clarry Tepper
- Ron Smith
- Robert Dickinson
- Richard Umbers
- Terry Knox
- Sandra Jenkins
- Bev Fegan