Celebrating 40 Years

This year we celebrate 40 years of high quality Montessori education in our school! In doing so, we look with admiration and thanks to those by whose insight, commitment and determination the School came into being, grew and thrived over those 40 years. It’s quite a story. In 1981, a group of parents living in the inner city areas of Sydney formed the Inner City Montessori Association (ICMA), now the Inner Sydney Montessori Association (ISMA), establishing the first Stage 1 class that year in Annandale. According to School records, the School quickly expanded to other inner city locations, including a church hall in Drummoyne (1982), our Lilyfield campus (1983), and variously later in the 1980s at Burwood and Hunters Hill, adding more Stage 1 classes. In 1988, ICMA’s first Primary 6 – 9 class (Stage 2) was established, and the first Stage 3 class commenced in 1990.


At the beginning of 1992, with the exception of the Lilyfield site, all of the then existing classrooms came together under the same roof at Jane Street in Balmain, on the site of the former Convent of the Immaculate Conception, as the Inner City Montessori School. In 2001, the School relocated to its current premises at 44 Smith Street, Balmain, a place with a rich history. The building was originally the Smith Street Superior Public School, erected in 1880. Evidence of the Smith Street Superior Public School remains in the Smith Street building, near the original internal staircase, in the form of a beautiful Roll of Honour board, honouring those from the School who served in the Great War (1914-1918) and those who died in that conflict. Balmain Teachers College was opened on the Smith Street site in 1946, in order to help meet the increasing post-war demand for teachers. In the early years of the College, some infant school classes remained on site (and were a valuable resource, no doubt, for the preservice teachers in the College). The Smith Street building would in 1977 become Sydney College of the Arts, whose name still features high on the Smith Street façade. This year, ISMS celebrates 20 years on the Smith Street campus.

In 2004, our school’s educational offerings extended beyond the typical pre-school and primary years when a Parent Toddler Program (PTP) was introduced at Balmain, for children from 18 months to three years old. In 2005, this program expanded to include children from birth to 18 months (Nido) and now our Nest programs cater to expectant parents from pregnancy onwards. In 2009, the School changed its name to Inner Sydney Montessori School (ISMS).


Importantly, throughout its 40 years, ISMS has held fast to its commitment to Montessori theory and pedagogy while also applying compatible contemporary educational approaches in light of emerging research into how children best learn. Our child-centred focus is upon the optimum development of the whole child – cognitively, physically, emotionally, socially, culturally and spiritually. It is an educational focus that is scientifically based upon the realities of child development and one which emphasises the child’s agency in the education process and the child’s independence. It is an approach that prepares our children well for the future world. Ours is a community-focussed school, where the partnership between parents and the School is highly valued and the sense of belonging for all is strong and cherished. We have much to celebrate – and we look forward to doing so in various ways over the course of this year.

Michael Dunn, Acting Principal