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St Andrew's Cathedral School

Coordinates: 33°52′25″S 151°12′20″E / 33.87361°S 151.20556°E / -33.87361; 151.20556
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St Andrew's Cathedral School
SACS House, viewed from Sydney Town Hall, 2007

Coordinates33°52′25″S 151°12′20″E / 33.87361°S 151.20556°E / -33.87361; 151.20556
TypeIndependent co-educational comprehensive and specialist primary and secondary day school
MottoLatin: Via Crucis Via Lucis
(The Way of the Cross is the Way of Light)
Religious affiliation(s)Diocese of Sydney
Established14 July 1885; 138 years ago (1885-07-14)
FounderAlfred Barry, Third Bishop of Sydney
Educational authorityNew South Wales Education Standards Authority
ChairmanKanishka Raffel
Head of SchoolJulie McGonigle
Staff~123 (2008)[2]
Enrolmentc. 1,282[1] (2018)
Colour(s)Blue and white   
SloganLife Giving Learning
AlumniOld Andreans
External tests

St Andrew's Cathedral School is a multi-campus independent Anglican co-educational comprehensive and specialist primary and secondary day school, located in the Sydney central business district, New South Wales, Australia. The school currently caters for approximately 1450 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

The School is one of Sydney's oldest, founded in 1885, as a choir school for St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. St Andrew's is legally supervised by the Cathedral Chapter which appoints and approves members of the School Council which was formed in 1979. The council is responsible for administering the School's policies and formulating its mission and vision as well as appointing successive Heads of School. A boys' school for much of its history, St Andrew's opened its doors to senior girls (Year 10 to Year 12) in 1999. In 2008, the school became a fully co-educational school with boys and girls enrolled from Kindergarten to Year 12. In addition to providing a comprehensive education and a specialist choir school, the School operates an Indigenous primary school, called Gawura.

The School is a member of the International Choir Schools' Association,[3] the Independent Schools Association (ISA), the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[4] and the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA).[5]

In 2009, St Andrew's became an IB World School and commenced offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma as an alternative leaving qualification to the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC).[6]

First 90 years[edit]

St Andrew's Cathedral School students with former headmaster Canon M. C. Newth outside St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, c. 1944
Bishop Alfred Barry, founder of St Andrew's Cathedral School

St Andrew's Cathedral School was founded by the third Bishop of Sydney, Metropolitan of New South Wales and Primate of Australia Alfred Barry. The school was opened as the St Andrew's Schoolroom on 14 July 1885 in the Old Baptist Church premises in Pitt Street, on the corner of Bathurst and Kent streets. At the school opening, Bishop Barry stated that St Andrew's was established to provide "the choristers with a high-class, free education on Church principles, in addition to a musical training".[7] The school started with 27 boys, of whom 22 were choristers and, although it was later nicknamed the "Choir School", provision was made for non-choristers to attend. Enrolments reached a total of 80 in 1892, but suddenly dropped to about 50 and remained at this number for many years.

St. Andrew's Church in Pitt Street (now Stafford House) was the next home of the school, and remained so from 1892 to 1914, when it was moved to St. Phillip's Parish Hall, Church Hill (No. 1 York Street, Sydney).

The school made several subsequent moves, to the old Deanery (Church House) in 1917 and to the adjacent Worker newspaper printing works building in 1937. In 1961 the Cathedral Chapter and Standing Committee, after years of deliberation, decided to commence Stage One of a vast master plan to redevelop the Cathedral Site. As a result, Stage One of the "New School" was built along Kent Street, from the Bathurst Street corner and integrated with the adjoining old Worker Building.

That building lasted only eight school years from 1965 to 1972. There followed three-and-a-half years, from 1973 to August 1976, during which it was housed temporarily in the CENEF Building diagonally opposite across Bathurst and Kent Streets.

Modern establishment[edit]

On 13 August 1976 St. Andrew's Cathedral School returned to its previous site and occupied the sixth, seventh and eighth floors, and rooftop of the newly constructed St. Andrew's House,[8] where it remains. The school has its own entrance off Kent Street and a dedicated lift to levels 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

The school commenced outdoor education in 1982 using hired properties. During 1984, the school purchased a 40-hectare (100-acre) rural property at Penrose, near Moss Vale in the NSW Southern Highlands for its own outdoor education campus.

In 1991, the school established a senior secondary learning centre at 51 Druitt Street, Sydney, in close proximity to St Andrew's House. The Premier of NSW, Nick Greiner, officially opened the Bishop Barry Senior Secondary Centre. In 1997, the School Council decided that St Andrew's students would be better prepared for post-school work, study and lifestyle choices if the school became co-educational in Years 10, 11 and 12. Accordingly, in Term 1, 1999, the first 76 girls commenced in the Senior College. St Andrew's became the only co-educational school in the city.

In 1999, the school's Student Business Club formed a working partnership with the Sydney 2000 Paralympics Organising Committee (SPOC) to raise awareness of the Games. The students conducted a range of events over a two-year period that ultimately raised $100,000 to help stage the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.[9]

In 2001, the school negotiated long-term occupancy in St Andrew's House by signing a 120-year lease for its facilities.

Canon Melville Cooper Newth OBE, the eleventh and longest-serving Headmaster of St Andrew's Cathedral School (1941-1979), died on 21 October 2004, aged 90.[10] The MC Newth Auditorium was named in his honour.

The school marked its 120th year in 2005. At the same time, Phillip Heath celebrated his 10-year anniversary as the Head of School. This year also saw the School Council confirm the decision to vacate the Leadership and Enterprise Centre at 495 Kent Street. The main campus remains within the eight-storey St Andrew's House, located at 474 Kent Street.

On 22 September 2006, a new entrance to the school was opened by former Archbishop of Sydney, Sir Marcus Loane KBE. This was attended by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, as well as many parents and friends of students. The contemporary entrance is directly opposite the west door to St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney Square. The school's address subsequently changed from 474 Kent Street, Sydney to Sydney Square, Sydney. In 2008, the school successfully negotiated a lease with the Wentworth Park Stadium Trust to allow the School to use the Wentworth Park sporting fields and stadium. The lease also includes the exclusive use of a three-storey building on the eastern side of the field and change rooms on the western side. These lease arrangements are ongoing. On 20 November 2008, it was announced that the Head of School, Phillip Heath, after 14 years in the position, would depart the school to take up the principalship of Radford College, Canberra, effective from 1 July 2009. Dr John Collier, Head of St Paul's Grammar School for 12 years, was announced as his replacement on 4 June 2009, and commenced the position in Term 1, 2010.


In Term 1, 1999 the school introduced the first girls into the senior college, and 76 girls entered into Years 10, 11 and 12.

During the 2006 Speech Night, the school revealed a plan to introduce full co-educational years from Kindergarten through to Year 12 in 2008.[6] In 2006, the youngest female student was enrolled in Year 8, and graduated with the Class of 2010. During 2007, 10 girls were enrolled into the middle school (Years 7 to 9) and the school introduced twin classes (single-sex classes) in those years for the key subjects of English, Mathematics and Science. All other subjects, including sport, and in all other years of the school, are taught in a co-educational environment. St Andrew's was the first independent school in New South Wales to choose this twinning model in a coeducation environment.[11]

Visits by British royalty[edit]

Royals have attended services at the cathedral on numerous occasions, on all of which the school's choristers have sung and had the opportunity of meeting them:

Heads of school[edit]

The following individuals have served as Head of School or any precedent title:

Ordinal Officeholder Term start Term end Time in office Notes
1 A. R. Rivers 1885 1892 6–7 years [citation needed]
2 G. D. Shenton 1893 1895 1–2 years
3 P. J. Simpson 1895 1907 21–22 years
4 C. A. Brewer November 1899 May 1900 0–1 years
5 E. N. Wilton 1907 1916 8–9 years
6 R. E. Freeth 1916 1918 1–2 years
7 C. H. Lea 1918 1920 1–2 years
8 M. Searcy 1920 1929 8–9 years
9 L. N. Sutton 1930 1934 3–4 years
10 M. K. Jones 1934 1938 3–4 years
11 S. C. S. Begbie 1938 1941 2–3 years
12 Canon Melville Cooper Newth OBE 1941 1979 37–38 years
13 Allan K. Beavis 1979 1995 15–16 years
14 Phillip J. Heath 1995 2009 13–14 years
15 John Collier 2010 2021 10–11 years
16 Julie McGonigle 2022 present 1–2 years


Bishop Barry Senior College occupies the lower ground floor, ground floor, and levels 1 to 4

St Andrew's Cathedral School is on two city campuses near Town Hall Station, St Andrew's House in Sydney Square and Bishop Barry Centre in Druitt Street. It has a leasing arrangement with St Andrew's College within the grounds of The University of Sydney and the nearby Wentworth Park Sporting Complex. The school also uses the university's facilities for basketball, swimming, tennis and squash.

St Andrew's also owns a rural property known as Kirrikee[13] at Penrose, in the NSW Southern Highlands for its own outdoor education campsite.

Gawura campus[edit]

St Andrew's Cathedral School Gawura Campus crest

Headmaster M. C. Newth introduced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys into the school as far back as 1965.[14]: 187  In 2007, the school opened a co-educational Kindergarten to Year 6 school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, named "Gawura" (meaning "whale"), located in the Junior School and on the rooftop of St Andrew's House campus. During the planning stage, the school searched twelve sites in the Redfern area to build the Gawura campus, but, facing opposition from some members of the Redfern community, it was decided the school should be set up within St Andrew's House. Gawura is Australia's first independent campus for Aboriginal children.[15]

Students at Gawura study Gadigal, an Aboriginal language, culture and NESA numeracy and literacy skills. All students are sponsored primarily by individual and family donors, corporates and foundations. Gawura was established in response to the disparity in educational outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Initially a part of St Andrew's Cathedral School, Gawura became a school in its own right in 2011.

Gawura offers full scholarships to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live at home with their families.

House system[edit]

St Andrew's Cathedral School contains eight houses, each named after an English cathedral or abbey with a choir school. The houses are:

The houses compete for the Dean Pitt Shield, awarded annually.


The navy blue uniforms were designed to be similar to those worn by business people in the city, preparing the students for professional employment.

The boys' uniform consists of mid-grey trousers, white shirt (blue for Junior and Middle School K - 9), navy school blazer, black shoes and St Andrew's tie. House and sporting ties are also acceptable, and Year 12 students may wear their Year 12 ties.

The girls' uniform (winter) consists of the navy blazer, white shirt (blue with white collar for Junior and Middle School), navy skirt (navy tunic for junior school), navy stockings and black shoes. The summer uniform consists of a white, navy and blue dress, white socks, and black shoes for junior and middle school, and the winter uniform minus the stockings for senior college.

Cathedral choir[edit]

St. Andrew's Cathedral School Choir leaves by train for Melbourne, Central Station, 1954.

The Cathedral Choir can trace its origins to the consecration of St. Andrew's Cathedral in 1868 and this establishes the choir as one of the oldest continuously active choirs in Australia. The choir comprises choristers and choral scholars from St Andrew's Cathedral School as well as a group of men, known as lay clerks, who sing the lower parts.

Through overseas tours and recordings St Andrew's Cathedral Choir has won an international reputation and has accepted invitations to deputise for the resident choirs in such places as St Paul's Cathedral, London, York Minster and many other important centres of Anglican worship. In 2002 the choristers appeared before HM the Queen at a Golden Jubilee concert in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle and also made a significant contribution to the ANZAC Day service in Westminster Abbey.

St Andrew's Cathedral choir rehearsing while on tour, at Canterbury Cathedral in 2005

The Cathedral Choir has made several recordings.

During school terms the choir sings at the morning Sunday service at 10.30am and at Evensong on Thursdays at 5.30pm.

Michael Deasey completed a 24-year stint as the School's Master of the Choristers in 2005, and Ross Cobb, from the UK, was appointed as his successor.

To celebrate 140 years of the Cathedral Choir, the choir went on tour to England and Italy in July 2008. The first tour under the direction of Ross Cobb, the 11th organist and choirmaster of St Andrew's, the choir was invited to sing at services and concerts in some of Europe's most historic and significant buildings, including Wells Cathedral, Dedham and Harwich Parish Churches, Bath Abbey, Bristol Cathedral, All Soul's Langham Place, Christ Church Clifton, the Anglican churches of Venice and Florence, St Paul's Cathedral London and, for the first time, the Basilica of San Marco in Venice.



The school has a compulsory winter sports program. Middle School and Senior College students can choose from over 20 different sports and activities ranging from rugby, netball, football and hockey to fencing, cross-country running, chess and ping pong. In summer, students compete in swimming, athletics, basketball, softball, water polo and cricket in the ISA competition. From 2014, the school also offers dance as a co-curricular activity at the school. The school also participates in a large number of sporting events not only within the school but also against other schools statewide, and occasionally outside the state.

Performing arts[edit]

St Andrew's provides extra-curricular opportunities in music, drama and performing arts.

Alongside its music curriculum, the school supports musical ensembles, student orchestral performances and domestic and international choral tours including to Europe, the United States and Asia. Extra-curricular drama activities include Senior and Middle School drama ensemble productions, an Old Andrean annual play, Theatresports and a weekly Year 7 Drama Club. The school has dedicated drama and performance spaces and a Black Box Theatre.

St Andrew's also has a lengthy history in musical production. The first whole of school musical was Oliver!, performed in 2001. Since then, a whole school musical production has been produced at least every two years (with the exception of 2019-2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). These have included:

Outdoor education[edit]

St Andrew's offers an outdoor education program that includes year-group-based camping expeditions and outdoor activities. The school owns a property named Kirrikee, south-west of Sydney near Penrose, where the majority of their in-school outdoor education expeditions are conducted.

The school also offers more challenging optional overseas expeditions for older students. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme is offered to all students in Year 9 and above.

Mock trial[edit]

St Andrew's has had considerable success in the Mock Trial Competition, organised and operated by the Law Society of New South Wales, in which both government and independent schools throughout NSW participate. In 2004, the team were runners-up to Mereweather High School. In 2005, the school team of Year 11 students won the competition and then went on to compete in an International Mock Trial Competition against the UK National Mock Trial team, Ysgol Tre-Gib, Cardiff, United Kingdom, and once again was victorious.


In May 2015, former school mathematics teacher Robert Emmett was convicted on his guilty plea of possessing child abuse material and of aggravated filming of the private parts of a child under the age of 16 in 2013, for which he received an Intensive Corrections Order, a form of non-custodial sentence.[18]

In November 2019, the female students of Year 12 were told to stay behind after a grade meeting. John Collier (then Headmaster) stated this was to address 'issues with uniform compliance.' Social media posts from the students state that they were told to kneel onto the floor to ensure the correct length of their skirts. Dr Collier (who was absent in the uniform check) denied this, stating that 'one staff member knelt on the ground to show the girls how they could test the length of their skirts, with some students copying the staff member.' Dr Collier states that he had received emails both in support and disapproval of the uniform check. Due to the backlash received from this situation, Dr Collier issued an apology to the students and parents involved.[19]

On 25 October 2023, the body of a woman was found in the toilet of the school's gymnasium by police before midnight. The woman was identified to be the dance and water polo coach, Lilie James.[20] The suspect, Paul Thijssen, was found dead in The Gap in Vaucluse, 11km away from the initial crime scene.[21] A make-shift memorial was made in front of the school as a tribute to James. The gymnasium was closed to students and the school's library was turned into a drop-in counselling centre.[22][23] Assessments were either postponed or cancelled with students eligible for special consideration before exams.[24]

Old Andreans[edit]

The Old Andreans' Association (OAA), which is the alumni organisation of St Andrew's Cathedral School, was established as the Old Boys' Union (OBU) by the school's third Headmaster, Percy Simpson, in 1906. The first president was the Hon Justice Webb, a judge of the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW. He held office for over 40 years.

The OAA has become an incorporated entity, and has improved its governance arrangements greatly. It continues to provide a means of maintaining contact between Old Andreans and their school.

Past and present members of the OAA (and OBU) include Sir Charles Kingsford Smith,[14]: 39  Ken Tribe AC, Lt-Gen John Grey AC, Simon Tedeschi, John Antill, Julian Hamilton, Malcolm Page and Matt Levy.

Notable alumni[edit]


Entertainment, media and the arts[edit]

Politics, public service and the law[edit]

  • Jim Longley – former NSW Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and Minister for the Ageing (1993–1995)
  • Richard Murden – Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly (Lib) (1953–1959)[26]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 8 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:08-02-2018)
  2. ^ 2008 Annual Report to the NSW Board of Studies Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:24-08-2009)
  3. ^ Choir Schools' Association Overseas Members Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (accessed: 30-11-2007)
  4. ^ Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia Archived 2 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed: 30-11-2007)
  5. ^ JSHAA New South Wales Directory of Members Archived 18 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed: 30-11-2007)
  6. ^ a b St Andrew’s Cathedral School to go fully co-ed Archived 22 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:20-06-2007)
  7. ^ Old Andreans Association: Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Information > 1885-1939
  8. ^ St Andrew's Cathedral School-History Archived 20 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:24-06-2007)
  9. ^ St Andrew's Student Business Club "Students on Par" Project Archived 31 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:20-06-2007)
  10. ^ Dedicated cathedral school servant passes away Archived 17 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:20-06-2007)
  11. ^ The best of both worlds Archived 15 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed: 30 September 2007)
  12. ^ Her Majesty heads for cathedral (20 June 2007)
  13. ^ Kirrikee Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b c d Newth, Melville C. (1980). Serving a Great Cause. Sydney: M C Newth. ISBN 0959455000.
  15. ^ Headmaster aims to inspire with new Indigenous school campus Archived 26 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine (accessed:21-06-2007)
  16. ^ "Annie the Musical 2022".
  17. ^ "Disney's The Little Mermaid 2024".
  18. ^ Begley, Patrick (10 September 2015). "Teacher Robert Emmett avoids jail after filming up students' skirts". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  19. ^ Chung, Laura (29 November 2019). "Headmaster at St Andrew's apologises for girls' uniform check". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 13 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  20. ^ "St Andrew's Cathedral School murder: How it unfolded". The Daily Telegraph. 26 October 2023. Archived from the original on 25 October 2023. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  21. ^ Crittenden, Madeline; Mardon, Cydonee (27 October 2023). "Fingerprints identify body as killer after Lilie's family breaks silence". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 October 2023. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  22. ^ Carroll, Lucy; Harris, Christopher (26 October 2023). "'We experience this grief together': School offers support to students after staff death". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 26 October 2023. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  23. ^ Rose, Tamsin (27 October 2023). "Lilie James remembered as 'vibrant' and 'adored by all' as elite Sydney school reassures parents". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  24. ^ Carroll, Lucy; Harris, Christopher (26 October 2023). "'We experience this grief together': School offers support to students after staff death". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 26 October 2023. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  25. ^ "Papers of John Antill (1904-1986)". Finding Aids: Manuscripts. National Library of Australia. 11 August 2004. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  26. ^ "Richard William Murden". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  27. ^ Bannister, Laura (7 September 2009). "Water Boys: St Andrew's Victories Make a Splash". St Andrew's Cathedral School. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  28. ^ "Abigail Paduch Results | Commonwealth Games Australia". commonwealthgames.com.au. 11 May 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  29. ^ "Beijing 2008 Olympic Games". Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2019.

External links[edit]