History

History of Cairns State High School

Cairns State High School was founded in 1917 as an annex of Cairns Central State School and will celebrate its Centenary in 2017.  The high school was moved to its present site in 1923 which at the time, hosted the high school and technical college.  The foundation stone for the administration block was laid in 1939.  In the early 1980’s the TAFE College transferred to its current site. This move left Cairns State High School as the sole occupant of a 5 hectare block located 5 minutes walk from the Cairns city centre and 3 blocks back from the Cairns Esplanade. The school is a 10 minute drive from the Cairns International and Domestic Airports and is service by noth school and city bus routes.  

Throughout its history, Cairns State High School has served the needs of generations of many Cairns families, including a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population from Yarrabah to the Cape through the 1970s and 1980s. Cairns State High School is currently the largest secondary school in Cairns with a very proud and distinguished history.  It enjoys an exceptional reputation and is regarded as a genuine alternative to private schooling both locally and elsewhere.  

In 2001 as part of Education Queensland’s Secondary School Renewal Program, the school worked towards developing a unique identity by consolidating its various programs with a clear focus on:

  •     Traditional Values - Respect, Learning, Tolerance, Safety, Honesty and Integrity
  •     Academic Excellence
  •     Excellence Programs in Music, Performing and Visual Arts and Sport
  •     High Quality Teaching supported by Technology
  •     International Education    


Cairns State High School as a community, decided to commit to the Council of International Schools (CIS) process of international accreditation in 2003.  The accreditation process was very comprehensive and in 2005 Cairns High was awarded international accreditation. Cairns High is very proud of this accreditation as it celebrates the school's long standing, valued traditions and acknowledges that the school strives to implement the latest innovations. The school was also awarded Independent Public School status in 2015.

Cairns State High School was awarded re-accreditation in 2016. This ongoing school improvement cycle ensures that Cairns High maintains high quality standards at an international level. Cairns High’s Guiding Statement aligns the school’s mission statement, goals, values, effective practices and programs. This statement is the foundation for the school’s future focus, describes the Cairns High learner attributes and ensures a global outlook. The statement also provides the framework for future school decision making and is directly linked to the school’s strategic plan.

Cairns State High School was authorised as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in September 2008. The school remains the first school and only state school outside of South East Queensland to be authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.  In 2010, the first cohort of students commenced the IB Diploma Program as an additional alternative to the school’s senior schooling pathways. Cairns High is proud of the increasing number and high standard of students graduating with the IB Diploma.  

The Administration Block at Cairns High was successfully added to the Queensland Heritage Register as a State Heritage Place in May 2014. The Queensland Heritage Council recognises the significance of the building as part of Queensland’s cultural heritage and a place of cultural significance.

The history of Cairns State High School has been collated and made into a book. The book was launched on 5 February 2017 and can be purchased from the Souvenirs tab or from the school in person or over the phone on 07 4050 3042.