A new role planned for state school in Fortitude Valley

ABANDONED in December 2013, the heritage-listed Fortitude Valley State School could become a hub for specialist education in Queensland.

The school on prime real estate in Brookes Street closed due to low student numbers, despite a campaign by parents and students to keep it open. Its sale by the Education Department could have reaped $50 million.

But Education Minister Kate Jones says she has been involved in discussions to renew the site as an "education hub".

The chairman of the FVSS celebration committee Ray Thurlow, who was a pupil at the school from 1952 to 1955, says he has been reliably informed that the school will be retained as an education centre.

A decision is expected soon on four options: an alternative education centre for disruptive students and students who struggle in standard school settings; an Education Department learning 'hub'; a centre for leadership and professional development by teachers; or a centre for bringing teachers up to speed in mathematics and languages.

"Whatever the option, we are all happy that the school building will remain," Mr Thurlow said.

One of the oldest state schools in Queensland, Fortitude Valley celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011.

It opened in March 1861 at Foresters Hall on the corner of Ann and Brunswick streets, now the site of the Royal George Hotel. By 1867, and with a boost to immigrants after the arrival of John Dunmore Lang's free settlers on the ship Fortitude, the school had outgrown the one-room rented premises, and moved to a purpose-built building in Brookes Street. Changes evolved over the years and the present building was erected at 95 Brookes Street as a co-ed school in 1950.

Like its motto - Onward Ever Onward - it seems the Fortitude Valley State School will be around for a long time yet.

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