Scots College (Sydney)

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The Scots College
Bellevue Hill, New South Wales
Australia Australia
Type Independent, Single-sex, Day and Boarding
Motto Latin: Utinam Patribus Nostris Digni Simus
(O that we may be worthy of our forefathers[3])
Denomination Presbyterian
Established 1893[1]
Founders Rev Arthur Aspinall
Rev Archibald Gilchrist
Rev William Dill-Macky
Chairman Mr Simon Fraser
Principal Dr Ian PM Lambert
Chaplain Rev Conrad Nixon
Employees ~300[2]
Enrolment ~1,800 (K–12)[2]
Colour(s) Gold and Blue
Slogan "Brave Hearts Bold Minds"
"Scots to the fore"
"Raising fine young men since 1893"

The Scots College is an independent Presbyterian day and boarding school for boys, located in Bellevue Hill, an eastern suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Established in 1893 at Brighton-Le-Sands,[3] Scots has a non-selective enrolment policy[4] and currently caters for approximately 1800 students from Kindergarten to Year 12, including 250 Boarders from Years 7 to 12.[1] Students attend Scots from all regions of the greater metropolitan area and New South Wales country regions. The college is affiliated with the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[5] the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA),[6] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA),[1] the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference,[7] and is a founding member of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales (AAGPS).[8]


The college was formed in 1893 by three men, the Reverend Dr Archibald Gilchrist, the Reverend William (Fighting Mac) Dill-Macky and the Reverend Arthur Aspinall. Gilchrist devised the school motto of "Utinam Patribus Nostris Digni Simus", which may be translated from Latin as "O that we may be worthy of our forefathers".

Collectable School Cigarette card featuring the Scots colours & crest, c. 1920s

The Reverend Arthur Aspinall, who became the first Principal, was minister to the Forbes Parish from 1874 to 1887. An educated man himself, with a love of learning, he saw the need to educate the sons of the pastoralists of the area. His dream was for a boarding school in Sydney to which these very isolated farming families could send their children. Ms Lillyan MacDonald of the Church Records and Historical Society (Uniting Church in Australia, NSW Synod) writes:

From Dr Prentis I have learnt that a Forbes influence has pervaded Scots College for more than a century through the sons of Forbes District farming families, especially the related families of Aspinall, Strahorn and Martel.

— Lillyan MacDonald, Personal communication

The Presbyterian Church was not happy with the proposal to start the school. Aspinall became the guarantor, advancing the capital required, while the possibility of starting the school was still a matter of bitter contention within the Church hierarchy. Thus Scots opened as a private enterprise. Once the school was established and functioning, the Church Assembly saw no reason to continue to oppose the idea of the school. In 1906 Aspinall sold the college to the Church for seven thousand pounds and so it became part of the Presbyterian education system in New South Wales.

Lady Robinson Beach - Original Campus[edit]

The college was originally established at Lady Robinson Beach, now renamed Brighton-Le-Sands, near the shores of Botany Bay. The initial school building was the modified, de-licensed 'New Brighton Hotel' on The Grand Parade, near Bay Street. The renovations to the hotel were done by Arthur Aspinall's brother, Albert Aspinall. The first Principal, the Rev Arthur Aspinall, remained in this position until his retirement in 1913. The school was officially opened 28 January 1893 by the Governor of New South Wales, the Right Honourable Victor Albert George, Earl of Jersey. Villiers Street, Rockdale was named in honour of this occasion. There were ten day students and 25 Boarders.

The period when the school opened was a time of depression. The first few years for the school were difficult. There were 55 boys enrolled at the school when, in 1895, (soon after a racecourse had opened nearby) the school moved to its current location in Bellevue Hill.

Early days at Bellevue Hill[edit]

The school occupied 'St Killians', the former home of Judge Josephson. Before he retired, Aspinall had added new buildings to the school and developed playing fields. The school was still surrounded by many areas of bushland which caught fire on hot summer days. Lessons would be cancelled so that the students could assist in the fire fighting. Aspinall was a stern Principal who dealt harshly with misdemeanours. Often his acerbic tongue and brilliant use of words produced ridicule more intimidating than any of his physical punishments. But he was also capable of empathy. Some promising students were educated for free when economic constraints within a family seemed likely to result in a student being withdrawn from the school.

1914 to 1955[edit]

Steps and entrance porch, Circa 1939

James Bee, a New Zealander, continued the growth and expansion of the college. When he retired in 1934 there were 450 enrolled students. This is quite remarkable considering that the 1930s Great Depression was not yet over.

Alexander Knox Anderson, also a New Zealander, saw the Depression end only to be followed four years later by World War II. During World War II, Scots and its student body relocated to a purpose built campus at Bathurst, to the west of the Great Dividing Range. This was due to the proximity of the Bellevue Hill campus to the coast, and the fear of Japanese naval bombardment, a fear justified in May 1942 with the Japanese mini-sub attack on Sydney Harbour.

The Bathurst campus remained part of the school for a short period after the war, before splintering off and becoming the independent The Scots School, Bathurst.


The 75th Anniversary celebrations were held 3 to 10 May. The 1200 students at the College and past students had much to celebrate, for many former students had achieved success. In 1968 Dr Robert Naumann was Professor of Nuclear Physics at Princeton University in the United States of America. The Guest of Honour at the celebrations, the oldest known student in 1968, was Dr Ed Spark, a Dental Surgeon who had attended the school in 1894 at Lady Robinson Beach.

Subsequent history[edit]

Aspinall House

In 1975, a fire gutted most of the school's Main Building, resulting in a major reconstruction and renovation of school facilities.

In 1988, the school opened its outdoor education campus, "Glengarry", in the Kangaroo Valley. Attending Glengarry is compulsory for all Year 9 boys, who live on site in one of five dormitories for six months. A residential academic and outdoor education team deliver a wide range of carefully developed personal development programs that enhance academic motivation and learning, and emphasise discipline, care, respect and curiosity. The year group is split into two intakes, they attend in terms 1 and 2, and terms 3 and 4 respectively. The Glengarry adventure now finishes with a 'Long Journey Home', which involves the intake to ride, hike and canoe their way back to Sydney from Glengarry.

Most of the Council members are elected by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in New South Wales.


Period Details
1893–1916 Rev Arthur Aspinall
1917–1930 Mr James Bee
1951–1955 Mr Alexander Anderson
1956–1965 Mr Allan McLucas
1966–1980 Mr Guthrie Wilson
1981–1993 Mr Graeme Renney[9]
1994–2006 Dr Robert Iles
2007–present Dr Ian Lambert


Scots Main 1939

The campus consists of three ovals (Kirkland Oval; Fairfax Oval, which is used primarily by the Pipes and Drums as a parade ground, and Scots Main), four general class buildings, five boarding houses, a 25m swimming pool, a gymnasium, grandstands, tennis courts, basketball courts (indoor and outdoor) and the school amphitheatre.

The Senior School Buildings are the Centenary Centre (Music, Religious Studies), the Graeme Clark Centre (Science and Mathematics), Scots Main (Design and Technology, Visual Arts, Geography, History), Oval Building (Stevenson Library, Black Watch Cafe, PDHPE), The Lang Walker Business Center (Business/Economics) and The Ginahgulla Centre (Languages, English).

Oval also houses the Year 12 / 11 Study Area, the Black Watch Café, the Prefects' Room, The College Shop, and the school's two main function rooms (the Founders' Room). Scots Main houses the Auditorium and main school administration, whilst the Centenary Centre contains the school's primary Lecture room, the Coote Theatre and various music facilities and musical instruments.

The college quadrangle finished reconstruction in 2007 to provide additional change rooms and wheelchair accessible facilities such as an elevator for the Main Building, as well as vastly improving the aesthetics of the College 'quad'.

A new Mathematics/Science building, named the Graeme Clark Centre, as well as aerobics room (Bottom Level - same level as the current pool and weights room) was constructed from early 2007 to late 2008. Classes began on Monday 17 November 2008 and the building was opened on Friday 27 March 2009.

In 2007 the new 'Ginahgulla' classrooms were completed. These classrooms house years five and six located at the Senior campus, Victoria Rd. The upper floors were renovated in 2008 and became new Languages and English classrooms.

The College was able to fund an altitude training chamber in the high performance centre. Such a device is able alter the levels of oxygen present during sport training sessions and PD lessons. Whilst providing benefit to the college's leading athletes, the benefit of such equipment for the institution as a whole has been publicly questioned.[10]

Pipes and drums[edit]

As a testament to its Scottish heritage, the school has a well known pipe band: The Scots College Pipes and Drums, established in 1900. The original band consisted of five members — boys who had joined the cadets as pipers. There are now over 230 boys in the band, making it the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.[citation needed] In 1931 the band was granted permission to wear the tartan of the Black Watch regiment. The band's royal patron was formerly the Queen Mother. Traditionally, the Scots Pipes and Drums leads the annual ANZAC Day parade through Sydney. At the 2006 Australian Pipe band Championships, the Drum Corps won the Juvenile Drum Corp title, and the band as a whole earned a respectable third place.[citation needed] These results were then followed up by a successful run at the 2008 Australian Pipe Band Championships, where the band won both the Juvenile and Grade 4 title. These are the best results the band has seen in its long and prosperous history. The Pipes and Drums was recently invited and participated in the 2012 Queen's Diamond Jubilee Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo , the 2014 Basel Tattoo and went back to Edinburgh in 2016 to participate again in the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo .


Sport has traditionally played a large role in the college and is an important part of the curriculum. The college competes in the AAGPS competition and has had notable success across a number of sports. Scots GPS premierships occurred in the following years:

House system[edit]

The Scots College

As with most Australian schools, The Scots College utilises a house system. Scots has 13 student houses, of which 5 are boarding houses. Each year the houses participate in multiple academic and sporting competitions, spread across the school year, and are awarded points according to their placings. This point system determines the winner of the House Championship each year (announced at a final assembly). The day boy houses contain between 90 and 95 students each, whilst the boarding houses have between 50 and 65.

Boarding houses[edit]

The school's five boarding houses are named Macintyre, Kirkland, Aspinall, Fairfax and Royle.

  • Macintyre House is located by the Macintyre tennis courts and contains the College clinic. The house contains all the Year 7 boarders who go to other boarding houses after Year 7 and does not compete in any house competitions. Motto: Together we Shall Strive.
  • Kirkland House is located next to the gym, and its jersey blue and white.

Motto: Strength of Character Through Enthusiastic Effort and Good Sense.

  • Aspinall House is located between the Chapel and the dining hall, its house jersey is mostly white with a little dark green and it is named after former principal Arthur Aspinall. Motto: Honour before Honours.
  • Fairfax house is situated on the hill above Fairfax oval and the Ginahgulla classrooms. Because it is on a hill the boys in the house sometimes call it "The House on the Hill". Motto: Steadfast and United.
  • Royle house is located across the road from Macintyre house and the Macintyre tennis courts, and its house jersey is dark green and blue. Motto: Not Merely for Ourselves.

Day houses[edit]

In addition to the boarding houses, the school has eight day boy houses — James Bee, Fraser, Anderson, Macky, Bruce, Armstrong, Gilchrist and Brandt. They are listed here by age:

  • James Bee House is one of the two oldest day boy houses, formed in 1936 and named after Mr James Bee, headmaster for 20 years (1914–1934). The house badge is based on his initials. In recent years, James Bee House has consistently come second to Gilchrist House, with the exception of 2002 in which it secured the House Championship over its traditional rival. James Bee House has "Red Nose Day" as its charity and has raised around $80,000 for this worthwhile charity over the last 8 years. Colours: Black. Motto: Best Effort
  • Armstrong House was formed in mid 1936 as a day boy house. It is named after Dr G Armstrong, a founding College Councillor and Deputy College Chairman. Its crest is the College's Lion Rampant and the letter A in gold on a red background. Colours: Red and Gold. Motto: Striving for Excellence
  • Anderson House was formed in 1947, and named after Mr AK Anderson, Headmaster from 1935 to 1955. The crest is based on the New South Wales floral emblem, the Waratah. Colours: Yellow, Red and White. Motto: Truth, Courage and Compassion
  • Brandt House was also formed in 1947. It is named for Rev DF Brandt, Chairman of the College Council from 1927 to 1936. The house crest displays four sections displaying a castle, the Lion Rampant, an open book and the house initials. Colours: Royal Blue. Motto: Fortune Favours the Brave. Charity: Cancer Council of Australia
  • Gilchrist House was formed in 1986. It was named after the Rev Dr A Gilchrist, one of the most influential College Founders. In recent years, Gilchrist has been consistent winner of the House Championship (except a 2002 victory to James Bee and a 2000 victory to Bruce). The badge and motto are based on those of the Gilchrist Clan. Colours: Red, Green and White. Motto: Brave and Trustworthy. Charity: Diabetes Australia
  • Bruce House was formed in 1986 and named after Rev Dr D Bruce (Chairman of the College Council from 1902 to 1905). The house selected a new badge in 1991, based on the belt that traditionally surrounds Scottish clan badges with the College's rampant lion in the centre. Colours: Royal Blue and White. Motto: Strength and Unity. Charity: Red Kite
  • Fraser House was also formed in 1986. It was named after Mr HJ Fraser, Chairman of the College Council from 1969 to 1977. The crest and motto are based on those of the Fraser clan, with the buck's head in the centre. Colours: Light Green and White. Motto: I am Ready. Charity: Bandaged Bear Day
  • Macky House, like Bruce, Fraser and Gilchrist, was founded in 1986. It was named after Rev Dr WM Dill-Macky, one of the founders and the first Chairman of the College Council (1893–1901). The open book and sword-bearing arm of the crest are based on the house motto. Colours: Blue, Green and White. Motto: With Strong Arm and Mind. Charity: Jeans for Genes Day

Notable alumni[edit]

Old Boys' Union Logo

Former students of The Scots College are known as Old Boys, or alternatively Old Scotsmen, and may elect to join the school's alumni association, The Scots College Old Boys' Union (OBU). The OBU was formed in 1900, and today supports the school with financial assistance, whilst working to facilitate communication and interaction between the College and its Old Boys through events and activities, such as alumni and sporting reunions. Reunions are also held in various states of Australia and overseas.[11]


Academia, public service, politics and religious service[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Scots College". New South Wales Schools. Australian Boarding Schools Association. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Annual School Report 2006" (PDF). The College. The Scots College. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  3. ^ a b "History of the College". The College. The Scots College. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  4. ^ "The Scots College". New South Wales. School Choice. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  5. ^ "AHISA Schools: New South Wales". Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. April 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  6. ^ "JSHAA New South Wales Directory of Members". Junior School Heads' Association of Australia. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  7. ^ "International Members". HMC Schools. The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  8. ^ "AAGPS History". Info. Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  9. ^ The Scots College website
  10. ^ "Home". The Scots College. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  11. ^ "About Old Boys". Old Boys. The Scots College. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  12. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography: Miller, Sir Roderick William (1911 - 1971). Retrieved 2 August 2007
  13. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography: Norton, Ezra (1897 - 1967). Retrieved 2 August 2007
  14. ^ "Peter M'Callum Dowding". Appointment of Senior Counsel by the Hon David K Malcolm AC CitWA Chief Justice of Western Australia. Supreme Court of Western Australia. 2002-11-13. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  15. ^ "Archbishop Peter Jensen: Profile". Senior Clergy. Sydney Anglican Network. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  16. ^ Slattery, T.A (1990). "15 April 1933 - 10 August 1990 Eulogy Tendered by His Worship the Mayor [Dubbo]. Alderman T A Slattery". Service of Thanksgiving and Memorial for the life of Rear Admiral Sir David James Martin KCMG. AO. Register of War Memorials in New South Wales. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  17. ^ Murphy, Damien (2015-09-12). "Canning by-election candidate Andrew Hastie holds Tony Abbott's political future in his hands". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-10-09. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sherington, G. and Prentis, M. 1993. Scots to the Fore: A History of The Scots College Sydney 1893-1993.. Hale & Iremonger, Sydney. ISBN 0-86806-500-5.
  • Andrew, Phillipa A (1997) Built To Last: the stories of John and Thomas Aspinall and their descendants. Privately Published.
ISBN 0-646-34463-3: available in the library of The Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney, State Library of New South Wales and in the library of The Scots College.
  • Church Records and Historical Society (Uniting Church in Australia, NSW Synod), Parramatta
  • Garrett, J and Farr, L W (1964) Camden College: A Centenary History
  • Geeves, Phillip and Jervis, J (1986) Rockdale: its beginning and development Revised Edition
  • Historical Society of New South Wales
  • Joy, William (29 April 1968) Daily Telegraph, Sydney: "How three fighting Scots founded a great school" (commemorating the 75th anniversary of the school)-includes photo of Rev Arthur Aspinall and his wife
  • Munro May (1961) In Old Aspinall's Day
  • Prentis, Malcolm A Biographical Register of Presbyterian Ministers in NSW, 1866-1885, Church Heritage Vol 6 No3
  • Prentis, M and Sherrington, G (1994) History of Scots College
  • White, C A The Challenge of the Years Plate 29 "The Scots College"

External links[edit]