About Us - History

2009 marked the 40th anniversary of continuous bilingual French-English preschool education in Canberra. In 1969, when Monsieur Albert Salon, Conseiller Culturel at the French Embassy, set up a school for the handful of French children living in Canberra, he probably didn't know that he was meeting a much greater need in the community and that his "petite école" - as it was known at the time - would so quickly grow into what it is today.

Over the past four decades, the "petite école" has welcomed more than 3,000 students from all cultural backgrounds and it now occupies a very special place in Canberra's educational landscape as well as in the hearts of many families in the Canberra community.

As early as 1973, the Preschool opened its door to children from all cultural backgrounds and expanded to two classes. One of these was held at the Alliance Française in Turner and the other was held in a church hall in Lyneham.

In 1977, the school was recognised by the Commonwealth Department of Education and the ACT School's Authority. It moved to rented premises attached to the Red Hill Primary School. With this addition of space, the preschool was able to increase in size to three classes.

In 1983, following the agreement reached between the French and Australian governments to establish a bi-national school in Canberra, the French program for primary-aged students moved to Telopea Park School. The French program for preschool-aged children remained at the Red Hill Primary School site and took on its current name and governance structure: the French-Australian Preschool - an independent preschool set up as a not-for-profit association.

In 1994, the preschool was officially recognised by the French Ministry of Education (Homologation). It also became licensed as an Australian Long Day Care Centre and opened two additional classes. In 1995, the centre gained accreditation from the Australian National Childcare Accreditation Council; it has proudly maintained accreditation ever since.

In 2012, the Preschool purchased the land and buildings it currently occupies in Red Hill from the ACT government.

The benefits of both bilingual and preschool education are increasingly acknowledged. With the goodwill and support of the French-Australian Preschool and broader community, we are confident that Monsieur Albert Salon's ‘petite école' will continue to thrive for many years to come.