Frensham School

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For the village in England, see Frensham.
Frensham School
Frensham School crest. Source: (Frensham website)
Mittagong, New South Wales
Australia Australia
Coordinates 34°27′19″S 150°27′10″E / 34.45528°S 150.45278°E / -34.45528; 150.45278Coordinates: 34°27′19″S 150°27′10″E / 34.45528°S 150.45278°E / -34.45528; 150.45278
Type Independent, Single-sex, Day and Boarding
Motto In Love Serve One Another
(St. Paul to the Galatians 5:13)[4]
Denomination Non-denominational[1]
Established 1913[2]
Founder Winifred West
Chairman Ms Gabrielle Curtin
Principal Julie A Gillick
Staff ~35[3]
Enrolment ~313 (7–12)
Colour(s) Purple, Green and White             
Slogan "Education that inspires..."

Frensham School is an independent, non-denominational, secondary, day and boarding school for girls, located at Mittagong, south of Sydney, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia.

Established in 1913 by Winifred West,[2] the school has a non-selective enrolment policy and currently caters for approximately 300 students from Years 7 to 12, including 222 boarders.[5] Students come to Frensham from Sydney, rural New South Wales, interstate, overseas and the Southern Highlands. [3] The school is governed by the Winifred West Schools Limited, along with Miss West's other two schools, Sturt School Craft Centre and Gib Gate Primary school.

Frensham is affiliated with the Boarding Schools' Association of the United Kingdom,[6] the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[7] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA),[5] the Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia (AGSA),[8] and is a founding member of the Association of Heads of Independent Girls' Schools (AHIGS).[9]


Frensham was founded by Winifred Mary West (1881–1971) on 17 July 1913, with three students and five teaching staff.[2][10]

Frensham front entrance, 1934. (Harold Cazneaux)

West first came to Australia in 1907, where she met Phyllis Clubbe, and the two soon after considered the founding of a school. To prepare for this they returned to England, where West furthered her experience in teaching, and Clubbe undertook teacher training. In 1912, they returned to Australia to begin the search for a suitable site, preferably a country region with an invigorating climate, within a reasonable distance of Sydney. On 1 June 1913, "Y Berth", a house belonging to Mr Tooth, was leased for five years with the option to purchase. The property featured a twelve-room house and 5 acres (2 ha) of grounds.[10] The school was named after West's birthplace, Frensham in Surrey.

Based on word-of-mouth, the school population had grown to 100 by 1918, and continued to grow to 250 by 1943, and 330 in 1963. In 1934, photographer Harold Cazneaux published a book of photographs of the students and the school titled The Frensham Book. This collection is now in the National Library of Australia, and formed part of a National Library public exhibition of his photography. S. E. Emilsen wrote another book on the school in 1988.

Frensham students in the art studio, 1934. (Harold Cazneaux)

In 1941, Miss West established the Sturt Craft Centre for local students, teaching weaving, spinning and carpentry as a community service. Eventually other crafts such as pottery, jewellery, textiles and screenprinting were introduced. Today, Sturt also hosts annual Summer and Winter schools focussing on the arts in January and July. The Sturt School for Wood was established in 1985, and runs full-time courses for designer makers of fine furniture. Gib Gate was established as a preparatory school for Frensham in 1954. The school had planned to open a preparatory school named "Little Frensham" in 1939, but the grounds were destroyed by the 1939 bushfires. In 1970, Gib Gate became co-educational, catering for day students from pre-school to Year 6, with boarding available in Years 4, 5 and 6.

In the mid 1970s, Frensham established a mass recruitment advertising campaign to achieve an increase in attendance, as the school faced unfavourable outcomes in net profit. The campaign lasted approximately five years, and by 1983 enrolments had doubled.


Students in the school grounds, 1934 (Harold Cazneaux)
Period Details[9]
1913–1938 Miss Winifred West, Founder
1938–1965 Miss Phyllis Bryant
1965–1967 Mrs Catherine Sandberg
1968–1993 Miss Cynthia Parker
1994–2000 Miss Ann Schavemaker
July 2000 – present Ms Julie Gillick


In 1917, Winifred West established a school Council consisting of staff, the head girl and prefects, old girls and community representatives. In 1932, Frensham School Limited was formed in order to provide for the school after the death of West, with the Council becoming the executive body. A Board of Governors became the executive body in 1952, with the council becoming an advisory body. Frensham School Limited was renamed as Winifred West Schools Limited in 1954, as recognition of Winifred West's other two schools, Sturt School and Gib Gate.

Notable alumnae[edit]

Frensham School's Old Girls (alumnae) may elect to join the Frensham Fellowship. The Frensham Fellowship was established in 1918, as a way of linking past and present students. Membership is open to former students and staff, with honorary membership offered to current staff and school prefects.[11] Some notable Old Girls include:

Media, entertainment and the arts
Medicine and science
Politics, public service and the law
Sport and aviation

Annabel Chauncey [Founder of School For Life Foundation]]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frensham". New South Wales Schools. School Choice. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  2. ^ a b c Kennedy, Priscilla (1990). "West, Winifred Mary (1881–1971)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 12 (Online ed.). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp. 447–448. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  3. ^ a b " "Educational & Financial Report 2015" (PDF). Current Happenings. Frensham School. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  4. ^ "The School Motto". About Frensham. Frensham School. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  5. ^ a b "Frensham". Schools. Australian Boarding Schools' Association. 2016. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  6. ^ "About Frensham". Home. Frensham School. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  7. ^ "New South Wales". School Directory. Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. 2016. Retrieved 2015-12-14. 
  8. ^ Butler, Jan (2016). "Member Schools". Members. The Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  9. ^ a b "Heads of New South Wales Independent Girls' Schools". About AHIGS. Association of Heads of Independent Girls Schools. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  10. ^ a b "History". About Frensham. Frensham School. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  11. ^ "Frensham Alumni". Community. Frensham School. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  12. ^ Biography in NFAW's Australian Women's Archives Project
  13. ^ CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award
  14. ^ "A country to write home about". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 April 2003.  Joan Phipson's obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald
  15. ^ "Former Students Studies & Career News". Community. Frensham School. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  16. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed. (17 November 2006). "Turnbull, Lucy". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 
  17. ^ The Compendium: Official Australian Olympic Statistics 1896–2002. Australian Olympic Committee. pp. 215–227. ISBN 0-7022-3425-7. 
  18. ^ "Territory Women". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Curd, L.M. 1938. Frensham: The First Twenty-five Years. Frensham School, Mittagong.
  • Emilsen, S.E. 1988. Frensham: An Historical Perspective. Winifred West Schools, Mittagong.
  • Svensen, J. 1993. Lasting Influences: Memories of Frensham 1938–1965. Molong Write Way, Molong, NSW.
  • Tuckey, E. 1963. Fifty years at Frensham: A history of an Australian School. Winifred West Schools, Mittagong.

External links[edit]