ONE of the state's oldest icons of public education, Ravensworth Public School, has been severely damaged by fire.
Flames were reported in the empty school building at 7pm on Saturday.
Firefighters worked for more than an hour to bring the blaze under control.
It is not known if the building can be saved.
The school, which sits on the corner of the New England Highway and Hebden Road, opened in 1876 with 14 children.
The majority of pupils were children of railway workers and employees of Ravensworth Estate.
Renovations including replacing the wooden shingles with galvanised iron were done in 1913.
They were also undertaken to the school residence in the 1920s, however there were no further changes to the school until a replacement school building was constructed in the 1970s.
The new Ravensworth Public School was opened in September 1971. It operated until 1986.