James Ruse Agricultural High School

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James Ruse Agricultural High School
Carlingford, New South Wales
Coordinates 33°46′52″S 151°2′31″E / 33.78111°S 151.04194°E / -33.78111; 151.04194Coordinates: 33°46′52″S 151°2′31″E / 33.78111°S 151.04194°E / -33.78111; 151.04194
Other name Ruse
Type Selective, Public, Co-educational, Day school
Motto Latin: Gesta Non Verba
("Deeds not words")
Established 1959
Principal Megan Connors
Enrolment ~846 (7-12)
Campus Urban
Colour(s) Bottle Green & Gold

James Ruse Agricultural High School (colloquially known as Ruse) is one of four New South Wales Government agricultural high schools. It is a selective, co-educational public high school located at Carlingford, New South Wales, Australia. The school is especially noted for its academic excellence, ranking 1st out of all New South Wales high schools in 2017 for the 27th consecutive year since 1991, as well as 1st in the national government NAPLAN tests across Australia since establishment.[1][2]

There are currently approximately 841 students enrolled at James Ruse in Years 7 through to 12. James Ruse is an academically selective high school; admission to James Ruse in Year 7 is only through the Selective High Schools Test, which is open to all Year 6 NSW students. A small number of students from other high schools are accepted in year 9, 10 and 11, through application made directly to the school. Of the student population, around 95% are from a non-English-speaking background, predominantly Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and Sri Lankan student language groups.[3]


In 1949 the main part of the school grounds was purchased by the NSW Government for the purpose of Agricultural Education.[4] The school that commenced on this site in 1956 was an annexe of Carlingford District Rural School with Charles Mullavey as the Master in Charge. At that time the school consisted of a wooden five room classroom block, a small staff-room and ablution facilities. By the start of 1958 the school was independent of Carlingford District Rural School and was called the "Carlingford Junior Agricultural High School" (reflecting that students could only undertake the first three years of secondary education at the school).

In 1959 the name of the school was changed to "Carlingford Agricultural High School" (to reflect its new full high school status - although there were no actual Fourth and Fifth Year classes at that time). The first Headmaster, James C. Hoskin, and his Deputy Headmaster, Charles Mullavey, commenced duties at the start of that year and in April, the name of the school changed again - this time to "James Ruse Agricultural High School".

When James Hoskin was studying Agriculture at University, he had become interested in James Ruse due to his significance in the early development of agriculture in Australia, and also because "both Ruse and I [Hoskin] are of Cornish extraction".[5] Mr Hoskin questioned the name of the school (Carlingford Agricultural High School) as the school was not serving just the Carlingford area. In April 1959, Mr. Hoskin put forward a proposal to the NSW Department of Education outlining two new names for the school: Sydney Agricultural High School and Ruse Agricultural High School; eventually, the Department agreed to a modification of the latter. The school was named to honour prominent late farmer James Ruse.

Hoskin soon became synonymous with the school, as he served as headmaster until his retirement at age of 65 in 1978. During this time, the school became established as one of the few public schools that were selective; initially because of its agricultural speciality, then for its reputation as a quality school. For his efforts, Hoskin was awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and the Order of Australia for Services to Education in 1990.

The first group of students to complete the full five years of secondary education at the new high school sat for the Leaving Certificate in 1961. Most of these boys were part of the initial enrolment of 1st Year pupils at the Felton Rd. site, in 1957. James Ruse AHS was originally a boys only school, but gradually became co-educational after an initial intake of 24 female students into Year 11 in 1977.

Since the mid-1990s, James Ruse has undergone an extensive building works program funded by both parents of students and the State and Federal Governments. 1997 saw the completion of Stage 1 of this program (encompassing a new Library block and English classrooms which replaced the old Anderson building, a new block containing Art and HSIE classrooms, the integration of the existing Powe block and the former library into a science block, and the installation of an elevator in the Perrau block to improve wheelchair accessibility).

In 2000, Stage 2 of the program began with the first building (a 180-seat lecture theatre) completed in early 2001. The Schofield block became part of the program in 2002 after the building was damaged by fires. During the next two years the old Technology Block and the Francis block were demolished due to a white ant infestation, with both blocks being rebuilt and refurnished in 2004. The final stage of the works were underway at the time of the departure of Principal Michael Quinlan, who retired in 2006 after having been Principal since 1992.[6] These developments (including a new music block) continued with the guidance of the new principal, Ms Larissa Treskin.


Six Principals have served at James Ruse Agricultural High School:

  • James C Hoskin - 1959 to 1978[7]
  • Andrew Watson - 1979 to 1988
  • Edward (Ted) Clarke - 1989 to 1991
  • Michael Quinlan - 1992 to 2006[6]
  • Larissa Treskin - 2007 to 2012
  • Megan Connors - 2013 to present

Academic results[edit]

James Ruse Agricultural High School is especially noted for its excellent academic achievements and competitiveness, as well as a near perfect record of all students gaining university admission, especially in medicine, law and science. The school has outperformed every high school in New South Wales in the past 20 years in public university entrance examinations, known in the state as the Higher School Certificate, with a median Universities Admission Index (UAI) of 99.55 in 2004, and 99.20 in 2005 and 2006.[8][9][10]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

James Ruse Agricultural High School can be noted for its strong participation in extracurricular and competitive activities, as listed below. In addition, the school has a high level of participation in volunteering and fundraising activities, including World's Greatest Shave and the 40 Hour Famine, and is closely linked with Interact and Amnesty International . Many students have received awards for outstanding participation in community service.[11]


The school also holds annual sporting carnivals, including the Swimming, Cross-Country and Athletics Carnivals, where students can compete for participation in wider regional competitions, from Zone and Area carnivals to the CHS (Combined High Schools) competition for the top school teams and competitors in NSW.[12] James Ruse participates in a variety of tournaments and competitions with schools in surrounding areas. These include the following activities.

There are also many competitive sporting teams, where students compete against other schools in the area, state, or country. Some teams have had the opportunity to compete against sporting teams from overseas.[13]

  • Knockout Regional Teams (Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Netball, Soccer, Table Tennis, Touch Football, Tennis, Volleyball)
  • Summer Grade Sport
  • Winter Grade Sport
  • Regional Championship Sports
  • Davidson Shield Cricket Team
  • CHS Pentathlon[14]
  • Australian International Junior Circuit (ITTF) Table Tennis Team[15]

Music activities[edit]

The following ensembles offer musical training, and some groups perform at both school and public assemblies. Larger ensembles tour NSW annually to perform throughout the state.

  • School Choir
  • Jazz Orchestra
  • Year 7 Concert Band
  • Wind Orchestra
  • Symphonic Band
  • Woodwind Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Annual Musical Production Orchestra
  • String Orchestra


  • Rural Youth (Also known as Rural Ruse), disfunct as of 2016
  • Poultry Squad
  • Agriculture Enrichment
  • Garden Crew
  • Regional Cattle Show Team

Performing arts and visual arts[edit]

  • Annual School Musical Productions - For over 50 years, James Ruse AHS has been running an annual school musical, with well over a quarter of the whole school community being involved in its making.
  • Shakespeare Festival - Held to a statewide level, where students compete in areas such as Music, Duologue, Mash-Up, Scene, and Set Design.
  • Cluster, Region, or State Music/Drama Production
  • Annual Yearbook Productions
  • Ruse Publications, publishes the student magazine, RuseStar
  • Knit Wits
  • Junior and Senior Tropfest Video Teams

Public competitions and other student groups[edit]

  • State Debating Teams (Premier's Debating Competition)
  • Informatics Team (International team members in 2005-6, 2008–15).
  • Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth and Environmental National Olympiad Team (International team representatives for Biology [2005-8, 2010], Chemistry [2004-5, 2008-2012, 2015] and Physics [1990, 2004-8, 2011, 2015])[16]
  • Australian and New Zealand Brain Bee Competition
  • History Mastermind Competition
  • Mock Trial
  • NSW Robotics Programming Team
  • FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Team
  • Mathematics Olympiad Team (International team representatives in 1985-6, 1997-2000, 2003-2015).[17][18]
  • Chess Team
  • RuseID (Ruse Intranet Development)
  • Zero Robotics Team
  • Anime Club
  • Science Enrichment
  • Programming Club
  • Stage Crew
  • Set Crew
  • Sound and Lighting Crew
  • Poultry Squad
  • Cooking Club


  • Student Representative Council (S.R.C.) - A leading student body elected by individual roll classes.
  • Social Justice Committee (S.J.C.) - An elected team that provides social awareness to the student body.
  • James Ruse Prefects - Elected by the whole school as a group of senior leading representatives.
  • James Ruse Peer Support - Elected leaders who help new students settle into the school community.
  • James Ruse ASPIRE Mentoring Program
  • RuseMUN (Ruse Model United Nations)
  • High Resolves Community Leaders
  • The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
  • Australian Army Cadets (James Ruse Agricultural High School Army Cadet Unit - JRAHSACU)

Welfare programs[edit]

Student Representative Council (SRC)[edit]

The school's Student Representative Council was inaugurated in 1960, making it among the first high schools in New South Wales to have such a body.[19] Each year, each roll class elects a Class Captain and Vice-Captain who represent it on the SRC. Larger extracurricular organisations are also entitled to a representative. The SRC as a whole elect a student executive, which consists of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Minutes Secretary, by a system first inaugurated in 1990. Through the SRC, students have a one-third representation on the school steering committees (along with parents and staff), and also play a major role in decision-making processes relating to curriculum, building plans, and resource allocation. This group is led by 5 year 11 student executives.

James Ruse Agricultural High School Army Cadet Unit (JRAHSACU)[edit]

The first cadet unit in James Ruse AHS was established in 1961,[20] and JRAHSACU usually has a strength of 90 to 140 cadets. JRAHSACU is currently made up of 3 platoons and 2 recruit platoons. The unit conducts a field expedition every term, with a strong emphasis on navigation and hiking. Weekend unit bivouacs are held every term, and 10-day unit-held annual camps offer cadets an intense and exotic hiking adventure. Cadets receive training in:

  • Army drill, dress, and bearing
  • Fieldcraft
  • First aid
  • Leadership in the field
  • Navigation
  • RATEL (radio telecommunications)
  • Survival
  • Physical training

Throughout its history, the JRAHSACU has been actively involved in community events, including Hyde Park Memorial Parade, RSL Services, services at local primary schools, and parades in the city. JRAHSACU was awarded the high honour of parading the Duke of Edinburgh's Banner in 2011. The unit participates in annual field exercises held to battalion or brigade (statewide) levels, and has many cadets participate in the annual national Adventure Training Award. An enthusiasm for Cadets continues to exist at rising levels, and the unit has been awarded with numerous formal commendations, unit medals, and Unit Efficiency awards.

Notable alumni[edit]

Business, science, and public service[edit]

  • Barry Baillie - former chief executive and chairman of Safe Food Production NSW[21]
  • Dr. Keith Brain - physiological researcher, awarded Nuffield Research Fellowship at Oxford University in 2001[22][23]
  • Scott Farquhar - co-CEO of Australian software company Atlassian[24]
  • Dr Fiona Johnson - climate scientist and 2015 Sydney Morning Herald scientist-in-residence[25]
  • Andrew Leigh - economist and Federal Member for Fraser[26]
  • Mark Taylor (Australian politician) - Prosecutor and State Member for the Electoral district of Seven Hills[27]
  • Cleo Loi - astrophysicist, mapped atmospheric plasma tubes aligning with Earth's magnetic field[28]
  • Bill Moss AM, philanthropist and former head of Banking and Property Group at Macquarie Bank[29]
  • Dr. Elizabeth New - science teacher at University of Sydney, recipient of RSC Dalton Young Researchers Award[30]
  • Catriona Noble - CEO of McDonald's Australia[31][32]
  • Peter O'Halloran - Chief Information Officer, ACT Health and named Australian CIO of the Year in 2016 [33] [34]
  • Professor Paul Shellard - Professor of Cosmology, University of Cambridge[35]
  • Anthea Spinks - World Vision Australia Head of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs[36]
  • Dhananjayan (Danny) Sriskandarajah - Rhodes Scholar, Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society, CEO of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Justin Wolfers - professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan[37]
  • Eddie Woo - the most famous mathematics teacher in Australia[38]


  • Greg Anderson has been Anglican Bishop of the Northern Territory since 2015.[39]
  • Chris Edwards has been Anglican Bishop of North Sydney[40] since 2014.
  • Dr Stuart McMillan, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, 2015-18[41]
  • Gary Koo is the rector of St Paul's Anglican Church, Carlingford.[42]

Entertainment and the arts[edit]



  • Natalie Bates - Cyclist, 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medalist
  • Andrew Leeds - Footballer, former member of the Australian National Rugby Union team
  • Greg Mail - Cricketer, former opening batsman for the New South Wales Blues[54]
  • Ron Jackson - Gold Medal Winner 1650 yard freestyle Commonwealth Games, Kingston, Jamaica. 1966 (while still at school).
  • Neil Montagnana-Wallace - Senior Licence FFA Coach, former Victorian State League Football Player[55]
  • Prof Steve Stannard - Former Australian cyclist and Head of School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University[56]
  • Peter Verheyen - Motorsport - 1987 New South Wales and Australian Formula Ford Champion Confederation of Australian Motorsport


The school teaches agriculture as a compulsory subject from years 7 to 10. Formerly it was also compulsory in Year 11 (with students taking an accelerated version of the HSC course to allow completion within one year). However, following the introduction of a new HSC curriculum by the Board of Studies in 2001, the school made Year 11 optional (with the decision supported by a survey amongst students).[57] Agriculture is a significant part of the school's curriculum, with students undergoing study of the subject both on and off-site, where students study and visit agricultural enterprises both in the Greater Sydney region, with visits to regional horticultural farming enterprises such as the Sydney Royal Easter Show and farms in Bathurst and in Gloucester. There is also great involvement in with other agricultural schools, with the school linked with Yanco Agricultural High School, and previous Head Teacher of Agriculture, Lisle Brown, being the co-author of the Dynamic Agriculture textbook series, which is extensively used in agriculture in Australian schools.[58][59]

The school leases approximately ten hectares of land from the neighbouring electricity sub-station for use in practical agriculture lessons. The farm land is situated north of the general school buildings, extending north to Lynch Close and east to Jenkins Road. The farm is arranged to include a vegetable garden, a classroom, a glasshouse and nursery, a greenhouse, an orchard, experimental plots, an area for field crops and a livestock section, among others. It also contains some riparian land which is currently being monitored and undergoing rehabilitation to its native state by the Streamwatch group (currently working as part of Sydney Water Streamwatch).[60][61][62]

A significant amount of the farm land is set aside for student plots. Part of practical agriculture lessons involves students growing and maintaining their own crops, and a practical mark worth 10% of their yearly mark is awarded at the end of term. Mature crops in the students' assigned plots of land are then the students' to take home. In addition to its use for educational purposes, the farm also supplies a wide variety of agricultural produce including: Cattle - Angus stud, paraded annually at the Castle Hill Show by the Cattle Group, and sold at Camden Sales yard; Sheep - First-cross Ewes & Prime Lambs; Eggs - Free-range eggs; Poultry Meat - Broilers raised and sold onsite, Oranges - Washington Navel; Peaches - Flordagold and Sherman's Red varieties; Sweet Corn - Shimmer variety; James Ruse Gold Rose - A privately crossbred rose variety the rights were donated to the school in 1999 in celebration of its 40 years of teaching; Apiary - Honey sold on-site in jars; and Macadamia Nuts. Various groups of students have been set up to look after these, such as the Poultry Squad and a Weather Watcher group to maintain farm records. In the past, the farm also housed Merino and Border Leicester sheep, named the Sharlea Sheep. It was replaced by the Aquaculture venture, silver perch and a crayfish growing system. Now some students also participate in making peach jam and sorbet after the peach harvest[63].


The school is situated in Carlingford, a suburb of North-Western Sydney. Its main entrance is located on the southwest corner of the school, with a number of smaller entrances on its southern and western boundaries. The campus is built around a main quadrangle, another cluster of buildings around a smaller quadrangle, with an oval, sporting facilities and the farm to the north of these.

Barrengarry House[edit]

Barrengarry House, the school's main administration block is located near the southwest entrance of the school, adjoining the Senior Common Room and the Library and housing the offices of the principal, deputy principals, head teacher of administration and the administration staff on the lower floor, and the counsellor's office, uniform shop and function rooms on the upper floor. It was originally the home and property of the Felton family, and was built in 1885, with the architect thought to have been Charles Slatyer.[64] The block adjoins a roadway of the same name, both of which are named after the Feltons' estate.

J.C. Hoskin Auditorium[edit]

More commonly known as the "school hall", the J.C. Hoskin Auditorium, named after the school's founding principal (see history above), is used as a multi-purpose facility. Along with holding important school assemblies, concerts and the school musical, the hall is also used for examinations (primarily government and senior exams) and it was used for PE classes in the past—this function was largely removed with the construction of the school's new gymnasium in 2017. Ceremonies which celebrate the school's highest achievers are also held annually in the Auditorium.

Library Block[edit]

The Library Block (or "L-Block") was built in 1997 and opened by then NSW Premier Bob Carr as part of the school's building works program, to provide a larger, and more modern and well-equipped library to replace the smaller Shearman Block (now the school's Music block). The block is a two-storey building, with the library occupying the top floor and English classrooms and offices on the bottom floor.

Technology Block[edit]

The Technology Block (or "T-Block") is a recent addition to the school campus along with the new Canteen Block, with construction finished in 2005. The wing is a two-storey building with a mix of classrooms, workshops and modern computer labs, and overlooks the gymnasium on its northern side.

Cameron Block[edit]

The Cameron Block (or "C-Block") is a three-storey building with a variety of classrooms, science labs, computer rooms and lockers. It is also home to the Mathematics Department and is located on one of the edges of the Main Quadrangle. There is also a Drama Room which contains a stage, a hobbit hole with costumes and some other drama-related objects. The topic of Multiple-Disciplinary Communications (MDC) is also frequently taught within the drama room.

Powe Block[edit]

The Powe Block (or "P-Block") is a two-storey building connecting L-Block and C-Block which houses most (but not all) of the school's laboratories. Most science lessons are held in this building and the science faculty staff room is located on the first floor. The second storey was constructed in 2012.


F-Block is a single storey building with two rooms that houses agriculture lessons.

Bishop Block[edit]

Bishop Block is a 2 storey building adjacent to the canteen sales. The bottom floor is used as a sports equipment storeroom and the second floor is a single classroom often used for Latin or Japanese classes.


The JRAHS Gymnasium began construction in late 2016 and opened in 2017. Its lengthy history dates back to the early 2000s and was a subject of comedy within the school community, as one of the longest running jokes used by Prefects/SRC and online 'memes'. Much of the jokes have ceased with the completion and opening of the gymnasium in 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Private schools all but vanquished from top 10 list". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 December 2011. 
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  3. ^ "Sweeping Chinese revolution". Sydney Morning Herald. 26 November 2005. Retrieved 26 August 2006. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008. 
  5. ^ Interview with James Hoskin printed in the 1978 School Magazine
  6. ^ a b "Top marks again, but class is over for high-achieving principal". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006. 
  7. ^ "01. James C. Hoskin - The Boss - James Ruse Union". union.jamesruse.nsw.edu.au. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "Only race that matters is the rush to the top". Sydney Morning Herald. 26 November 2005. Retrieved 26 August 2006. 
  9. ^ "Top marks again, but class is over for high-achieving principal". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2007. 
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  38. ^ Munro, Kelsey (2 November 2016). "Eddie Woo: celebrity maths teacher on how to get smart kids into teaching". Retrieved 30 August 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  39. ^ "Anglican Church Diocese of the Northern Territory: The Bishop". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 
  40. ^ "Chris Edwards". sydneyanglicans.net. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  41. ^ "Stuart McMillan (church leader) - Wikipedia". en.m.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 2018-08-24. 
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  57. ^ "james ruse | Page 2 | Community". webcache.googleusercontent.com. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
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  61. ^ "James Ruse A.H.S. Streamwatch group profile". Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2007. 
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External links[edit]