VALE Geoff Swan

Geoff Swan, a legend of Special Education in Queensland, passed away in his sleep recently at the age of 89.

Those who attended QASELCON13 will recall Geoff spoke at the conference dinner.  Those there will recall that Geoff spoke honestly about special education and such was the personality of Geoff that he even managed to shock Jamie Dunn, another guest speaker that evening.

Sadly missed but a great legacy remains.

Vale Geoff Swan.


Dr Geoffrey Swan OAM

Dr Geoffrey Swan attended Queensland Teachers’ College in 1944 after having passed the Junior Public Examination (Year 10). Totally unprepared academically, personally or professionally he then began teaching in primary and one teacher schools in various parts of the state.  There were however some lasting impressions from Teachers College especially in art, music, literature, philosophy and history.  He remembers the lecturers at Teachers’ College with admiration and affection.  While teaching in the country he studied by correspondence and became an external student of the University of Queensland . In the fifties Swan moved into special education and became a student of Fred and Eleanor Schonell.

For ten years he was Principal of the State School for Spastic Children at New Farm.

In 1973 he was appointed Inspector of Schools (Special Education).  He retired in 1987.

In 1968 Geoffrey Swan was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study the education of children with cerebral palsy in Europe, the United Kingdon and the USA.

In 1987 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to children with special needs.

He was also a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators.

From segregation to integration: the development of special education in Queensland was the title of Swan’s doctoral thesis undertaken at the Fred and Eleanor Schonell Educational Research Centre at the University of Queensland.

Geoffrey Swan has contributed several entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

In a recent edition of the Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland Swan wrote about Sir Fred (1900-1969) and Dr Eleanor Schonell (1902-1962).  The article coincided with the opening of the Eleanor Schonell Bridge at the University of Queensland.

Geoff was recently acknowledged as QUT’s oldest ever graduate on his completion of a Master of Arts (Research).  Geoff’s master’s thesis was titled  The Rise and Demise of the Inspector of Schools.  It is a history of the role and people who were the inspectors of schools in Queensland.  Dr Geoffrey Swan, 87, becomes QUT’s oldest ever graduate   Geoff’s PhD thesis From segregation to integration: the development of special education in Queensland  Geoff’s last thesis  The Rise and Demise of the Inspector of Schools. (A personal odyssey)  Geoff’s ACE fellowship



Congratulations Andrew & Lea

QASEL members congratulated Andrew Hawke and Lea Formigoni on their Retirements this year.

Andrew was the principal of Clifford Park Special School in Toowoomba for over 20 years.  He has been a member of QASEL (and previously ASEAQ) since its inception.  He has held various positions within QASEL including Vice President, Treasurer, Management Committee member and State Councillor and was Awarded with Life Membership at the end of 2015.He has also been a Teaching and Learning Auditor, Acting Assistant Regional Director, Lead Principal – Special Schools, and Co-President of SECC (Special Education Curriculum Consortium).   Andrew has been a wonderful and valued colleague to many QASEL members over many years.

Lea was the principal of Toowoomba West Special School for many years.  Lea was an original member of ASEAQ when the Teachers-in-Charge association and the Special School Principals’ association amalgamated to create ASEAQ, now QASEL.  She has been a valuable member of QASEL as Management Committee member and State Councillor.  Lea started her  career as a special education teacher (physical impairment) and became a Teacher-in-Charge of a Special Education Unit and then principal of a special school.

We wish Andrew and Lea a wonderful retirement and future.