School of the Air is a generic term for correspondence schools catering for the primary and early secondary education of children in remote and outback Australia where some or all classes were historically conducted by radio, although this is now replaced by telephone and internet technology. In these areas, the school-age population is too small for a conventional school to be viable.
The invention of the pedal radio by Alfred Traeger around 1929, and particularly the involvement of educator Adelaide Miethke in formulating and developing the idea of using the existing Royal Flying Doctor Service of radio communications, were pivotal in the establishment of the School of the Air.
The first School of the Air lessons were officially sent from the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Alice Springs on 8 June 1951. The service celebrated its 50th jubilee on 9 May 2001, ahead of the real jubilee on 8 June. Each state of Australia that utilizes this means of training has well-documented checks and overviews of the service.
There are School of the Air programmes in all states except Tasmania.
School classes were conducted via shortwave radio from 2003 until 2009, after which most schools switched to wireless internet technologies to deliver lessons that include live one-way video feeds and clear two-way audio.
Each student has direct contact with a teacher in an inland town such as Broken Hill, Alice Springs or Meekatharra. Each student typically spends one hour per day receiving group or individual lessons from the teacher, and the rest of the day working through the assigned materials with a parent, older sibling or a hired home-stay tutor.
Originally the students received their course materials and returned their written work and projects to their hub centre using either the Royal Flying Doctor Service or post office services. However the extension of Internet services into the outback now enables more rapid review of each child's homework.
As the children are in isolated situations, the School of the Air is frequently their first chance of socialisation with children outside their immediate family. This is supplemented by 3 or 4 annual gatherings where the children travel to the school to spend one week with their teacher and classmates.
Studies have shown that such education has a parity with, if not better, standards than traditional methods of schooling.
Schools of the Air
Schools of the Air operate from:
New South Wales
- Carnarvon 
- Kalgoorlie 
- Kimberley 
- Meekatharra 
- Port Hedland 
- Alice Springs School of the Air
- School of Isolated and Distance Education
- Educational School Sound System was a common installation in South Australia
- Our Rural Magazine for an example of an earlier pre-radio forms of distant education communication in Western Australia
- Queensland School for Travelling Show Children
- Behr, John. "Biography - Alfred Hermann Traeger - Australian Dictionary of Biography". Adb.online.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- "Territory Stories: Adelaide Miethke". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- "World's First School Air Opened". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 9 June 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 19 July 2011 – via National Library of Australia.
- Ashton, Jean (1978) School of the air. Adelaide : Rigby, 1978 Previously published as Out of the silence, Adelaide: Investigator Press, 1971. ISBN 0-7270-0985-0
- Western Australia. Education Dept & Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. Western Australian Section (1968). In The school of the air. Govt. Pr, [Perth]
- New South Wales. Dept. of Education. Public Relations Office (1969). In School of deine mudda. Govt. Pr, [Sydney
- Calzoni, F (1991). In The Australian School of the Air: a conceptual test of its origins, history and recent evolution, with special reference to distance training in Western Australia 1955–1990. Murdoch University
- http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/school-of-the-air Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine In 2005, there were more than sixteen schools of the air located around Australia, a network covering more than 1.5 million square kilometres. In fact, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are the only states who do not have a SOA.... these schools also teach children who are travelling around Australia or who can't, for medical or other reasons, attend a regular school.
- Some sources suggest later Students not to be taught through the Royal Flying Doctor Service. SatWeb introduced. re – the Kimberley School of the Air.Broome advertiser, 16 Dec. 2004, p.4
- "New wings for schools of the air". The Age. Melbourne. 11 February 2003. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Bond, Donald S & Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (1978). In Satellite communications for the school of the air in Australia. Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd, Sydney ISBN 0-908522-09-6
- Forster, M. F & Katherine School of the Air (1981). In Domestic satellite and the School of the Air. Katherine School of the Air, Katherine, N.T
- Crump, Stephen & Twyford, Kylie & Anderson, Alan & Towers, Lorraine & Devlin, Brian et al. (2010). Australian Research Council Linkage project on Interactive Distance eLearning : 'Opening Our Eyes' : project report. In Interactive distance learning for isolated communities : ARCL project discussion papers 2008–2010.
- Crump, Stephen & Twyford, Kylie & Littler, Margaret (2010). Interactive distance e-learning for isolated communities : the policy footprint. In Interactive distance learning for isolated communities : ARCL project discussion papers 2008–2010.
- Imamura, E (1987). In Conventional and nonconventional schooling: a comparison of pupil performance in rural schools and schools of the air. University of Western Australia
- Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Broken Hill School of the Air (1957). In Over to you : annual magazine of the School of the Air. The School, Broken Hill, N.S.W
- Australia – the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air [kit] / photographed by James H. Barr ; commentary spoken by Edmond Pegge ; notes by Winifred M. Barker and James H. Barr. St. Albans, Herts. (England) : Hugh Baddeley Productions, 1984. 34 slides, 1 sound cassette, 1 sheet ; in box 24 x 36 x 2 cm. re Broken Hill School of the Air.
- Gibb, Phyllis (1986). In Classrooms a world apart : the story of the founding of the Broken Hill School of the Air. Spectrum, Melbourne. ISBN 0-86786-101-0 ISBN 0867861029 (pbk.)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Alice Springs School of the Air (2001). In Alice Springs School of the Air. Alice Springs School of the Air, [Alice Springs, N.T
- Alice Springs School of the Air (1991). In 40th birthday radio lesson booklet : week ending 8 June 1991. The School, [Alice Springs, N.T.]
- Katherine School of the Air (1981). In School of the Air, Katherine, Northern Territory of Australia. Katherine School of the Air, Katherine, N.T
- King, Mark (1 August 2007). "Australia's school of the air". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ss/stories/s140221.htm Archived 31 October 2000 at the Wayback Machine about Longreach
- http://www.mtisasde.eq.edu.au// Archived 12 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine School of the Air – Mount Isa
- McKerrow, Helen & Mt. Isa School of the Air. P. & C. Association (1985). In Over to you : the first 25 years of the School-of-the-Air in North-West Queensland. Mt Isa School-of-the-Air P & C Association, [Mt Isa, Qld.]
- Lacey, LloydDistance education by satellite: the experience of the trial use of Aussat at the School of the Air, Mt Isa. -Qld-. In New Horizons: Aussat '86: Conference & Exhibition 5 & 6 November 1986. 201-210.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Port Augusta School of the Air (1979). In Information booklet. School of the Air, Port Augusta, [Port Augusta, S. Aust
- Lloyd, Patricia & Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (2003). In You can't say no. Royal Flying Doctor Service, [Adelaide]
- Motley, Carrie & Starr, Bill (1990). In Bush tracks and radio waves : a history of Port Augusta School of the Air, 1958–1990. Tread Softly Pub, [Australia]
- "School of the Air, Port Augusta, South Australia (SOTA)". Open Access College. Government of South Australia. Dept for Education. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Fitzpatrick, Jim & Western Australian Education Dept. Research Branch (1983). In The Carnarvon School of the Air : a study of the Parents and Citizens' Association and its interaction with the Education Department. Education Dept. of Western Australia, Research Branch, [Perth, W.A.]
- Langford, Stephen (2015). The Leading Edge. Innovation, Technology and People in Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service. Perth: University of WA Publishing. pp. 13–14. ISBN 9781742588148. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Looking around.Kalgoorlie [W.A.] : Kalgoorlie School of the Air, 1965–1976.Battye Library has part of the series only – see http://henrietta.liswa.wa.gov.au/record=b1852139~S2 Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Kimberley School of the Air (2000). In School days on the airwaves : 40 years of Kimberley School of the Air. Kimberley School of the Air, [Derby, W.A.]
- Kimberley School of the Air (1990). In Kimberley School of the Air, 1960–1990 : 30th anniversary magazine. The School, [Derby, W.A.?]
- One of the world's largest classrooms. Details of 40th birthday celebrations.of the Kimberley School of the Air. Broome advertiser, 13 Dec. 2000, p.30-31
- Aerial / Meekatharra School of the Air. Also Titled Wisdom by Wireless. Meekatharra, W.A. : The School, 1959-
- Meekatharra School of the Air (1984). In Wisdom by wireless : twenty five years, 1959–1984. Reads Printing & Pub, [Perth, W.A.]
- Hobson, Valerie.(1999) Shirley Forrester, elder of the bush. Outlines her own experiences in being educated as a student from rural WA and her contributions to rural education in Meekatharra including her establishment of the Meekatharra School of the Air, and her many achievements. in Network news for rural, remote and regional women, Summer, 1999, p. 14
- Lewis, Jo & Penfold, Chris & Port Hedland School of the Air (1989). In School of the Air : working together – apart : 1964–1989 : a silver anniversary project. Port Hedland School of the Air, [Port Hedland, W.A