St. Joseph's primary school was built in 1858 as a denominational school and cost 278 pound. The first teacher was Mr C .J. McNeeley.
The school closed in 1873, when the Government grant was withdrawn. In 1879, following the Education Act of 1878, it was re-opened by the Catholic Community and named St. Joseph's Catholic School. For three years the Mercy nuns from Bendigo taught at St. Joseph's School. For some unknown reason, the Mercy nuns left St. Joseph's in 1890.
The F.C.J sisters, who had just established the new F.C.J. Convent, took over the running of the school in 1901. The FCJ order was founded in France in 1820. Sixty -two years later a group of twelve Sisters had arrived in Australia to begin their "missionary work." The Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus, in the spirit of their foundress, Marie Madelaine d'Houet, established FCJ College in Benalla in 1900.In July 1901, a new school was built. It was a brick hall, 80 feet long, lofty and thoroughly ventilated - an immense improvement on the old premises which were erected in "the good old days', before the Board of Health had begin issuing decree!"
By 1916, the whole school had been painted and the hall divided into four classrooms, which although not soundproof, made teaching much easier for all concerned. Life at St. Joseph's saw very little change during the next twenty years, except that fewer children now walked long distances to school. They rode on bicycles, or, on rare occasions, were taken by car. The children's education in the faith was the teachers' first priority. First Communion and Confirmation days were always the high points of the year, not only for the children concerned, but also for their parents. With the post-war influx of European migrants, the situations in the Benalla schools, especially St. Joseph's, posed a problem for the teachers. In one year, the enrolment rose from 150 to 190, and the signs were that the trend would continue.In 1953, renovating and extension work on a large-scale was carried out. Five more classrooms were built during the period of time between 1960 and 1967, together with the natural population growth, the number of pupils increased form 190 to 416.Two new classrooms were completed in 1967 and another two were completed in 1971.
In 1964, St Joseph's had an enrolment of 428 and a staff of 9!The building program, carried out so successfully in the days before government grants were available, speaks volumes for the generosity of the Benalla people and the courage of their parish priests. The next building project undertaken at St. Joseph's school was completed in July 1995. This building project consisted of the refurbishment of classrooms, administration area, a new library, staff facilities and toilet block. This project was funded through Government Capital Grants and the support of a Parish Loan.
• In 2002 two new classrooms, pergola and a landscaped area were added to St. Joseph's school.
• In 2005 the Commonwealth government's 'Investing Schools Grant' enabled new air-conditioning to be put in all classrooms.
• In 2006 sunshade sails and new playground equipment has been installed.
• In 2007 a Master Plan for major capital works improvement was launched with a St. Joseph's Building Fund.
• In 2009 a Master Plan for major capital works improvement was launched with a St Joseph's Building Fund. Along with National Schools Pride and BER funding the following improvement were conducted:
- Installation of Solar panels and Water tanks
- Oval irragation and Landscaping
- Extension & Refurbishment of Senior and Junior wing to accommodate 21st Century Learning
- Additional Toilet Block
- Major Refurbishment of St Joseph's Hall
- Extenstion to staff room and library
- Fencing, plumbing and resurfacing of the playgrounds
• In 2011 the prep unit was extended to create a third classroom.
• In 2013 we begun redevelopment of the front of the school with new fencing, updated signage and an extension of staff office space.
The involvement of parents in all aspects of St. Joseph's is continually encouraged. St. Joseph's School Board and Parents and Friends play important roles in the life of the school community. The work of these groups in conjunction with the staff of St. Joseph's, the parish and the sisters of the FCJ order have provided great service and a rich history of quality education for the people of Benalla. Our school still retains a strong relationship with the F.C.J. Sisters through F.C.J. College.