The Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies (AGECS)

is a membership-based, not-for-profit organisation providing professional development and networking opportunities for their members.  AGECS members work, or have worked, in the field of Early Childhood education and care and /or they have significantly contributed to the field in other ways.

The Association has a  history of over 90 years of philanthropic work, which continues through its establishment of the Foundation of Graduates of Early Childhood Studies.

History of the Association

The history of the Association goes back to 1922 when the principal of the Melbourne Kindergarten Training College, Kew, Miss Mary Gutteridge encouraged the students to form the Past Students Association (PSA).  Its aim was “to bring together graduates for the purpose of fellowship, to maintain links with, and to contribute to, the College and to explore ways of establishing a home where deprived children enrolled in the Free Kindergartens could spend a holiday and have their health restored.”

historic-image

In 1926 land was purchased at Forest Hill an outer suburb of Melbourne and a holiday home was established for children from disadvantaged areas from Melbourne’s inner suburbs.

In 1937 the Association launched an appeal to raise 4000 pounds for a second holiday home at Forest Hill.  Miss Helen Sage a kindergarten teacher conducted the appeal at the offices of an accountant in which Mr Fred Davey was a senior partner. On 30th May as the appeal drew to a close Mr Davey presented to Miss Sage (representing the PSA) the gift of his home ‘Ware’, in Ringwood East Melbourne, for another holiday home. Later a more comprehensive early childhood complex was built on the extensive property and was named Warrawong.

The establishment of both properties was made possible through the efforts of the members of the Past Students Association who raised money by washing cars, rolling news papers to sell, gardening, sewing and all types of manual jobs as well as garden parties, dances etc.  This group of enthusiastic and innovative young women graduates laid the foundations and established the ethos of what is now known as the Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies.

In 1991 in response to a change in Government policy, Forest Hill was sold and part of the income from the sale was used to establish the Forest Hill Early Childhood Foundation. In 1995 the Foundation granted funds to establish the Mooroolbeek Chair of Early Childhood Studies at Melbourne University.

In 2003 Warrawong was sold, again due to changes to Government policy. In 2005 The Forest Hill Early Childhood Foundation was renamed The Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies and amended to incorporate the Warrawong Fund.

The Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies makes a major financial contribution to early childhood education and care through the Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies. Grants are available for early childhood programs and for professional development opportunities for staff working in services providing programs for children up to the age of eight.

Join AGECS!

Your involvement will ensure that AGECS long history of support for children and families, advocacy, networking and commitment to professional growth continues into the 21st century.


History and Handbooks for the Melbourne Kindergarten Training College
later renamed Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers’ College, and later State College of Victoria: Institute of Early Childhood Development before being absorbed into the University of Melbourne.

The first Victorian Free Kindergarten was opened in 1901. The need for training for Kindergarten teachers under the auspices of the Free Kindergarten Union was greatly felt, and in 1916 a Training Course was established. In 1921 the number of students entering for training warranted
the purchase of Mooroolbeek, a beautiful old property, standing in its own grounds, with a commanding view of Melbourne. The Kindergarten Training College was opened in March, 1922. In 1925 the two-year course of training was extended to three years, thus making the Kindergarten Training College a pioneer of a three-year diploma course for teachers in Victoria.A course for the training of Nursery School teachers was added in 1930.

Melbourne_Kindergarten_Training_College Prospectus 1933

Melbourne_Kindergarten_Training_College Prospectus 1943

Melbourne_Kindergarten_Teachers’_College Handbook 1973

Link to more Handbooks

Link to archives