The Irish Readers form part of a collection of school readers used in public schools in early Australian colonies. These public schools were supervised and developed by colonial chaplains and then churches (the Church of England).
By 1838 a growing number of schools started to be supported by government subsidies (in New South Wales, and in the future colonies of Queensland and Victoria). In 1848, New South Wales established the National and the Denominational school boards. The better funded National School Board imported Irish National readers as basis of a new common curriculum. (p.40-43, Campbell)
Between 1872 (with the Education Act 1872 (Vic)) and 1970, the Victorian Education primary curriculum focused heavily on texts from Ireland, Britain and then in the latter part of the 20th century on emerging Australian content. Victoria was the first of the Australian colonies to set up a central public school system based on the principles of free, secular and compulsory education. (p.77, Campbell)
The Colonial school curriculum relied on textbooks in the form of readers to help establish standards in reading and writing. “The Irish Readers” were designed to provide a non-denominational religious education and a focus on literacy and moral values of the time.
1. An English grammar for the use of schools - 1890
2. The second book of reading lessons (Christian Brothers) - 1885
3. Third reading book - 1878
4. Fourth reading book – 1876
5. The Fifth reader / by the Christian Brothers - 1913
6. Sixth reading book, formerly fifth book