Our History

Pope Road Kindergarten is a welcoming place where children, families and teachers are valued and learn together.

Pope Road Kindergarten was opened in 1952, but the journey to plan and build this community kindergarten began in 1948.

Jean and Les Sutherland (a local councillor at the time) had a friend from Germany who spoke of beautiful kindergartens for children in her home country. Les and Jean circulated community surveys to see if there were enough people interested in trying to establish a kindergarten for children in Blackburn. From this a committee was formed and this group negotiated with Blackburn Presbyterian Church for the use of the Sunday-School Hall. From this, the first kindergarten in Blackburn, Blackburn Pre-school, was established and still exists today.

C0B42D64-0205-477B-82E9-C496FF2FF182Encouraged by the success of this first kindergarten in the area, the committee found it necessary to establish a second. Without a suitable hall available the committee decided to construct their own building. Funding was almost impossible so most of the work to raised funds and construct the building was undertaken by many hours of dedicated volunteer community members.

Lady Brooks, wife of the Governor, Sir Dallas Brooks, officially opened Pope Road Kindergarten, on June 14th, 1952, with 40 children enrolled.

Those who helped establish this kindergarten had a vision and hope for children and the potential of early childhood education for young children, before school entry, that we continue to be grateful for and reap the rewards of today.

We acknowledge everyone who has been part of the Pope Road Kindergarten community since its beginning. As a public, stand-alone kindergarten, the majority of management, governance, maintenance and leadership of the kindergarten has been undertaken by community members and staff, who have all dedicated many volunteer hours.

Pope Road Kindergarten continues to be successfully managed by a volunteer Committee of Management, in collaboration with the Kindergarten Director and staff and kindergarten community.

For Leanne Mits’ insight into building a sense of community at Pope Road Kindergarten, please click the link below to access the VCAA article:

People and places in early childhood education

In this edition of ‘People and places in early childhood education’ Leanne Mits talks to the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) about building a sense of community at Pope Road Kindergarten in Blackburn. Leanne was awarded Teacher of the Year as part of the 2019 Victorian Early Years Awards, and in the weeks following this conversation, Leanne was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia for her innovations in and commitment and exemplary service to early childhood education over more than 35 years.

Leanne speaks to the importance of relationships, respect and reciprocity as the foundation for building connections with children and families and the wider community. The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) eight Practice Principles are evident in the relationship-based practice at the core of Leanne’s work.