Knox Grammar School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Knox Grammar School
Knox Grammar School Logo.svg
Latin: Virile Agitur
The Manly Thing Is Being Done[1]
Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia Australia
Coordinates 33°43′24″S 151°7′11″E / 33.72333°S 151.11972°E / -33.72333; 151.11972Coordinates: 33°43′24″S 151°7′11″E / 33.72333°S 151.11972°E / -33.72333; 151.11972
Type Independent, Day & Boarding
Denomination Uniting Church[2]
Established 1924 by John Gilmore, William McIlrath, Robert Gillespie and Andrew Reid [3]
Chairman Rob Wannan
Headmaster John Weeks
Chaplain Reverend Peter Robinson
Employees ~163[4]
Key people
  • Scott James (Deputy Headmaster)
  • Karen Yager (Dean of Studies)
  • John Starreveld (Dean of Students)
Gender Boys
Enrolment ~2,170 (K-12)[4]
Colour(s) Black and Blue

Knox Grammar School is an independent, Uniting Church, day and boarding school for boys, located in Wahroonga, an upper North Shore suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded in 1924 by the Presbyterian Church of Australia as an all-boys school, and named after John Knox. The school has since grown, branching out into a large Senior School of approximately 1550 students and a Preparatory School of 550.[1] The school also caters for approximately 160 boarding students from Years 7 to 12.[3]

Knox is affiliated with the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference,[5] the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[6] the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA),[7] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA),[3] and is a founding member of the Combined Associated Schools (CAS).[8][9]


Knox Grammar School was established on Sydney's North Shore in 1924, by the Presbyterian Church. The school was named after John Knox, the 16th century Scottish reformer, who planned a network of schools in every church parish.[10]

'Earlston' (now Gillespie Heritage House), c. 1923

Knox opened as a Presbyterian Boys' School after founding members John Gilmore, William McIlrath, Robert Gillespie and Andrew Reid purchased the original property, 'Earlston', as the first school building.[1] Now the Gillespie Heritage House, 'Earlston' was previously owned by Sir Charles Mackellar, was designed by architects Spain & Cosh, and built in 1908 for W. Moses Esq., Warrawee.[11]

The school was officially opened by the Hon. Sir George Fuller KCMG, Premier of New South Wales, on 5 February 1924.[11] Under the founding Headmaster Neil MacNeil, a Rhodes Scholar, Knox grew rapidly both in academic achievement and by providing students with skills in areas like woodwork and metalwork. Under MacNeil, Knox was able to survive the Great Depression, and saw expanded facilities. Student numbers rose from 28 in 1924 to over 300 in 1939.[1]

In 1939, Dr William Bryden took over the role of Headmaster. As World War II broke out, around 370 Old Knox Grammarians served in the armed forces. 53 of them lost their lives and are now commemorated in the John Williams Memorial Hall, the School Chapel, the Old Students' War Memorial, and the original Science Building. Despite this hardship of war, Bryden oversaw growth in the School's academic standing and a further expansion of facilities in the 1940s and early 1950s. It was also during this time the Pipe Band was established.[1]

Knox Pipe Band, c.1950

Dr John Mill Couper, a Scot, became Headmaster in 1953. Couper focused on broadening the School's education, with attention to music and art, however, problems culminated in Couper's departure from a divided Knox in 1955.[1]

These problems were short-lived and the next Headmaster, Dr T Ross McKenzie- former head of Brisbane Boys College, provided a management style that saw Knox become one of the top independent schools in New South Wales. The school's fifth Headmaster, Dr Ian Paterson, initiated further developments including a substantial building program, the strengthening of music and improved academic results.[1]

In 1999, Peter Crawley, former Head of Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne, became Knox's sixth Headmaster. Crawley's term saw the School move into the 21st century with an innovative program of technology and computer-based learning. He retired from the School in 2003.[1]


Period Details
1924 – 1938 Neil MacNeil
1939 – 1952 William Bryden CBE
1953 – 1955 John Mill Couper
1956 – 1968 T Ross McKenzie OBE
1969 – 1998 Ian Paterson AM
1999 – 2003 Peter Crawley
2004 – John Weeks


Knox's school motto is a Latin phrase, Virile Agitur,[1] which has been translated by the Headmasters from the school as being "Do the Manly Thing" (Preparatory School), "The manly thing is being done" (Dr Paterson).



Knox Grammar School, 1943

Knox's senior campus includes the Great Hall and Aquatic Centre (opened August 2011), sports facility, gymnasium, squash and weights rooms, music and drama centres, two boarding houses (one opened November 2010). Knox owns several major sporting fields including one on campus at the Senior School, two on campus at the Prep School, and two off campus in Warrawee and neighbouring North Turramurra.

Each classroom is equipped with a digital projector and each student has a laptop with wireless internet access. In addition to its extensive academic and sporting programs, the school offers many extra curricular activities including music with several large ensembles and orchestras, drama, debating, public speaking, chess, a science club, and Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, as well as maintaining the largest secondary school cadet unit in Australia. Since 2006 the school has been actively involved in the Future Problem Solving Program.

Building projects[edit]

Knox has in recent years completed new buildings at both the Senior and Prep Schools. The Senior School's KG1 Building, opened in 2007, has several high-tech classrooms, access to the Lawson Centre (sport facility), locker space for approximately 230 students, and a canteen. The KG1 Project also updated the Lawson Centre with a new flooring for the basketball court, new change rooms and a foyer, where Knox's many trophies and memorabilia are displayed. The Prep School's K-2 Centre, opened in 2004, provided new classroom, library, art and music facilities for Years K-2 students.

The new Boarding Centre was finished in November 2010. The Great Hall and Aquatic Centre project was finished August 2011. Situated alongside the Lawson Centre, and adjacent to the new Boarding Precinct, the Great Hall has transformed the Woodville Avenue entrance to the school, effectively creating a "grand boulevard" into the Senior School campus.

The Great Hall/Aquatic Centre building has been creatively designed. Different, multi-functional levels provide an Assembly Hall that seats up to 2200 people, three Olympic size indoor basketball courts, a performance centre for major productions, as well as an indoor 50 metre swimming pool and enhanced weights room/gymnasium.

Construction has begun on a Senior Centre at the school. This will be a building that is dedicated to years 11 and 12, and will accommodate their locker areas and rest areas, as well as the addition of classrooms.

House system[edit]


Knox Grammar School provides boarding facilities for approximately 160 boarders. Boarding facilities have been available since the School's opening, in 1924

Sir Robert Gillespie, a founder of Knox, c. 1920s
  • Gillespie (Maroon) - the original school house and is named for Robert Gillespie, a founder and benefactor of the School, and chairman of the School Council (1923–1945). It was later converted into a Boarding House, now known as "Gillespie Heritage House".
  • Boarding Centre - opened in November 2010, the Boarding Centre accommodates Boarders in 21st Century style.

Other Houses[edit]

  • MacNeil (Black) - originally MacNeil House was an expansion to Gillespie House, completed to add room to the new school. It is named for Neil MacNeil, the first Headmaster of the School (1924–1938).
  • Adamson (Dark green) - John Adamson - a long-serving chairman of the School Council.
  • Angus (Brown) - Rev Samuel Angus - a Professor of Theology at Sydney University and former member of the School Council.
  • Bryden (Grey) - Dr William Bryden - the second Headmaster of the School (1939–1953). Also known as the cultural house.
  • McIlrath (Dark blue) - William McIlrath - a founder and benefactor of the School and a long-serving council member (1923–1955). His widow contributed 50,000 pounds for the construction of the School chapel in 1960, which contains a Baroque organ by Ronald Sharp.
  • McKenzie (Orange). Dr Ross McKenzie - fourth Headmaster of the School (1956–1969).
  • Montgomery (Lime green) - Ross Montgomery - a council member (1953–1970) and benefactor of the School. His major gifts included the Montgomery Building and Gilmore House.
  • Murdoch (Red) - AM Murdoch - a long-serving School Council member (from 1938) and chairman (1855–1969)
  • Reid (Yellow) - Andrew Reid - a founder and benefactor of the School. A business leader, sole proprietor of James Hardie in 1912, he made many financial contributions to the School; he also built the Margaret Reid Home for Crippled Children in St. Ives, in memory of his late wife.
  • Sinclair (Purple) - George Sinclair - a school council member (from 1944) and chairman (1952–1955).
  • Turnbull (Light Blue) - Alex Turnbull - a founding member of the School Council, serving 1923-1947, and an elder at St Margaret's Church in nearby Turramurra.


Army Cadet Unit (KGSACU)[edit]

The Knox Grammar School Army Cadet Unit (KGSACU) comprises 630 members, ranging from recruits (RECs) to Cadet Under Officers (CUOs). The KGSACU is a member of 26 Battalion (26 Bn) (Sydney Schools) within the NSW AAC BDE. Participation is compulsory from Term 4 Year 8, through to the end of Term 3 Year 9 for attendees of Knox Grammar School, and offers voluntary participation for attendees at the Ravenswood School for Girls from Term 4 Year 8. After the completion of basic recruit training in their first year, cadets may decide to either discharge from the Unit, or attend a Promotion Course to attempt to attain a higher rank and/or continue into a Senior or Recruit platoon.

The Unit participates in combined Bivouac/Annual Field Exercise at the end of Term 1, and holds its own Junior, Senior, and CUOs Promotions Courses during August/September each year. Additionally, the KGSACU holds ceremonial parades for the Old Knox Grammarians Association (OKGA), an ANZAC Day Parade to commemorate ANZAC Day (though held several weeks after the day itself), and a Passing-Out Parade at the end of the cadet year to farewell the Year 12 members at the conclusion of their service to the unit.[citation needed]


Knox is a member of the Combined Associated Schools (CAS), and plays competitive sport against the five other member Schools namely, Barker College, Cranbrook School, St. Aloysius College, Trinity Grammar School and Waverley College. Trial and pre-season fixtures are played against the GPS and ISA Schools. Students may represent Knox in a variety of inter-school sporting fixtures played each Saturday throughout the term.[8]

The Intra-School sporting programs includes House carnivals, Standards and Inter-School competitions open to all boys.[8]

Participating in sport at Knox is compulsory in both the winter and summer sporting seasons.


Knox is heavily involved in such co-curricular activities such as the Gallery Choir which has a reputation for a high class vocal range consisting of SATB arrangements, and the Knox Symphony Orchestra (KSO), which plays a high standard of repertoire. Knox also accommodates for one of the most prestigious school pipe bands that has a rich source of history and talented young men. The Knox Pipes and Drums have toured around Australia as well as the United Kingdom and currently hold the State Champions title.

Notable alumni[edit]

Alumni of Knox are known as "Old Knox Grammarians", and may elect to join the schools alumni association, the Old Knox Grammarian's Association (OKGA).[12]

Media coverage[edit]

The school attracted widespread media coverage in 2009, when criminal charges were laid against five former teachers for alleged sex offences between 1976 and 1990.[13][14] The school wrote to Old Grammarians offering them counselling,[15] and the headmaster Mr Weeks urged anyone with information which may help police to come forward.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "School History". History & Tradition. Knox Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  2. ^ "Knox Grammar School". New South Wales. School Choice. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  3. ^ a b c "Knox Grammar School". Schools. Australian Boarding Schools' Association. 2007. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Annual Report 2006" (PDF). Prospective. Knox Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  5. ^ "International Members". HMC Schools. The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  6. ^ "AHISA Schools". New South Wales. Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. January 2008. Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  7. ^ "JSHAA New South Wales Directory of Members". New South Wales Branch. Junior School Heads' Association of Australia. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  8. ^ a b c "Sport". Co-curricular. Knox Grammar School. Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  9. ^ "CAS". About Knox. Knox Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  10. ^ "Welcome". About Knox. Knox Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  11. ^ a b "School Founders". History & Tradition. Knox Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  12. ^ "OKGA Introduction". OKGA. Knox Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  13. ^ Kennedy, Les (12 July 2009). "Knox teacher guilty of child sex charge". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  14. ^
  15. ^,27574,25101567-421,00.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  16. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Mansfield, B. (1974). Knox, 1924-1974. Sydney: John Sands.

External links[edit]