Sydney Boys High School

Sydney Boys High School

Veritate Et Virtute
With Truth and Courage
Cleveland St
Moore Park, New South Wales, 2021

Type Single-sex, selective, public, day school
Religious affiliation(s) None
Established 1 October 1883
Sister school Sydney Girls High School
Principal Kim A. Jaggar, Ed.D.[1]
Years 712
Gender Boys
Enrolment 1180
Campus Urban parkland: 34,400 m²
Colour(s) Chocolate brown and sky blue
Athletics AAGPS
Website Sydney Boys High School

Sydney Boys High School, is an academically selective public high school for boys located at Moore Park, New South Wales, a suburb within the City of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Established in 1883 and operated by the New South Wales Department of Education, as a school within the Port Jackson Education Area of the Sydney Region,[2] the school has approximately 1,200 students from Years 7 to 12 — a number greater than most, if not all, other selective state schools[3] — and is situated adjacent to its "sister school", Sydney Girls High School. The school is a member of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales (AAGPS).[4]

The school regularly ranks highly among schools in New South Wales in terms of academic achievement, ranking 4th in the state in the 2011 Higher School Certificate, and has produced numerous notable alumni, or "Old Boys".[5]


Although Fort Street High School was established in 1849, Sydney Boys High School is the first state high school in New South Wales created under Premier Henry Parkes' public education system in the early 1880s, following the Public Instruction Act 1880 (NSW).[6] Whereas Fort Street Model School as it was founded took primary and secondary students neither Sydney Boys nor Sydney Girls High School has ever had a primary education division and are thus the first NSW state high schools founded for the express purpose of secondary education.[7]

Alternatively known as The Sydney High School, due to its being the first state high school, Sydney High School was established as two single-sex schools sharing a single building, with boys and girls on separate floors.[7] The first day of instruction, for 46 boys, was October 1, 1883 and was at a building located in Castlereagh Street in the Sydney central business district, which was designed by Francis Greenway and constructed by convicts.[7] From 1883 to 1892, Sydney Boys occupied the lower floor and entered from the Castlereagh Street side of the building, whereas Sydney Girls occupied the upper floor and entered from the Elizabeth Street side.[7] In 1924, this building would be demolished and both schools would, in 1921, have relocated to Moore Park.[8] Presently, this site is home to the Elizabeth Street store of David Jones.

Second campus of Sydney Boys High School, at Mary Ann Street in Ultimo, in 1927.

In 1892, the boys' school was relocated to Mary Ann Street in Ultimo.[9]

In 1906, Sydney Boys High School became a member of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales (AAGPS or GPS).[10](The term "public school" here has the meaning as used in the United Kingdom; that is, a private school.) It is the sporting association's only state-operated member.[11]

In 1928, the school moved to its current location at Moore Park, on the fringe of inner-city Sydney.[12] This site was designed by George McRae, who also designed the Queen Victoria Building.[13] This site was previously the Moore Park Zoo, which was relocated to Mosman as Taronga Zoo.,[14]



The Year 7 intake is of around 180 students,[15] but prospective students in higher years may matriculate to the school if vacancies exist.[16] Offers of admission and matriculation into the school in Year 7 are made on the basis of academic merit, as assessed by the Selective High School Placement Test.[15]

In Years 7 to 8, the cohorts consist of 180 students in each year;[15] in Years 9 to 12, however, the cohorts consist of 210 students in each year.[15] The size of these cohorts are described by the 2001 SBHS Enrolment Policy.[15]

Once admitted and matriculated, students are further grouped according to their strengths and/or weaknesses, or to their abilities,[17] such as a weakness in English relative to mathematics or "general ability", as estimated by the Selective High School Placement Test, or a proven proficiency in music, as demonstrated by a formal qualification (e.g., Australian Music Examinations Board grades) in music.[18]

Academic results

Sydney Boys High School, like other academically selective schools and given the nature of its selective admissions criteria, has been historically known and is known for its academic achievement in the Higher School Certificate.

The following table shows High's rankings relative to other schools in the state. The rankings are based on the percentage of exams sat that resulted in a placing on the Distinguished Achievers List (highest band result) as shown by the Board of Studies.

Year Ranking [19]
2007 10
2008 7
2009 7
2010 6
2011 4
2012 8
2013 7
2014 6
2015 5


The curriculum, endorsed by the New South Wales Board of Studies, is taught by the following 12 departments:[20]

Classical Languages
  • Latin
  • Classical Greek
  • Hebrew
Modern Languages
  • French
  • German
  • Chinese
  • Japanese (no longer available)[21]

Grounds, buildings, and facilities

Sydney Boys High School, as seen from Moore Park West.

The current Moore Park site hosts the Great Hall, other school buildings, tennis courts, a gymnasium, the Junior Quadrangle, and the Flat, a common low-lying area of land between Sydney Boys and Sydney Girls High Schools. The school buildings include approximately 60 classrooms, two change rooms, the Junior Library (for Years 7–9), and the Senior Library (for Years 10–12).[22] Most disciplines are individual departments and have their own common rooms;[22] however, others are not that clearly divided or some teachers take classes in more than one discipline. For example, some English teachers in the English department also teach Drama; some History teachers in the History department also teach Studies of Religion.

Nearby to the school are a number of sports facilities, such as the tennis courts opposite to the Sydney Boys and Girls High Schools,[22] located on Cleveland Street, and the facilities at Centennial Park.

Also nearby, but not associated with Sydney Boys and Girls High Schools, are Fox Studios Australia, the Sydney Cricket Ground, and the Sydney Football Stadium.

Sydney Boys High School also owns and controls properties and other interests at Abbotsford (a rowing facility) and Malabar Headland (the ANZAC Rifle Range). In addition to this, the school owns a number of vehicles, which it utilises to travel to sporting events, such as the annual The Armidale School versus the High School rugby union game at Armidale and the Head of the River at the Penrith Lakes, Penrith.[23]

In addition, SBHS has its own cadet unit, which won the 23 Battalion AFX Trophy in 2012 and 2013.[24][25]

Co- and extracurricular activities

Debating and public speaking

It has also achieved notability in debating, having won the Hume Barbour and Karl Cramp trophies more times than any other school.[26][27]

SBHS also competes in the Lawrence Campbell Oratory Competition and the GPS debating competition. The SBHS First Grade debating team have won the GPS Debating premiership 17 times, most recently in 2015 and 2016.[28][29]


Sydney Boys High School has a long tradition of sports, in addition to academic scholarship and, stipulating that students must participate in sports until Year 11, offers students a wide range of sports, including:

Sydney Boys High School is the sole state-operated member school of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales[30] since 1906. It therefore competes against other GPS schools in many of the aforementioned sports; most notable among the traditional English public school sports of cricket, rowing, and rugby union. Accordingly, and unusually for a state school, the school possess rowing facilities at the Outterside Centre at Abbotsford, which includes a dormitory, boat sheds, and three pontoons; playing fields at Centennial Park, with the Fairland Pavilion and the McKay Oval, a fenced cricket ground; and, facilities at the ANZAC Rifle Range, which are managed by the Sydney High School Rifle Club.

In recent years, Sydney Boys High has had disappointing results in sporting competitions, particularly in rugby union, due in part to a shift to association football ("soccer") and mismatches in size and abilities between it and its competitors.[30] In the 2007 season of GPS rugby union, Sydney Boys High lost 7 of 7 games it had played to date before withdrawing from the remaining 6 games. Of this, GPS rugby convener Mark Ticehurst said, "Mr Ticehurst said: "It was the safety issue that saw Sydney High withdrawing. It's an opportunity to develop their rugby, and although they will still be in a very tough competition, the pressure is off them to perform at the First XV level".[30]

In contrast to Sydney Boys' performance in team sports, both historically and in recent years, numerous students have represented the school at the Eastern Suburbs Zone and Sydney Eastern Regional levels.

School traditions

House system

Each student at Sydney Boys High School is placed into one of six houses, and each year is evenly divided into these houses. These houses, named after early Old Boys who have significantly contributed to and served the school, are:

House name Colour Namesake
Eedy (E) Sky blue Arthur Malcolm Eedy, a student in the first intake (1883–1886)[31]
Fairland (F) Red Charles Adam Fairland[32][33][34]
McKay (M) Yellow Robert Thomas McKay[33][34]
Rubie (R) White Cecil Edward Henning "Cec" Rubie, a student (1925–1928) and President of the Old Boys Union (1965–1966)[35]
Saxby (S) Green George Campbell Saxby, a student in the second intake (1884–1887) and the fifth headmaster of the school[36]
Torrington (T) Navy blue

As of late, these houses, as at the Year 7 intake, have been grouped according to the strengths and weaknesses of the students,[37] with an outrider class, English skills enhancement class, music proficiency class, sports proficiency class, and language preference class. In addition to these, an English enrichment group and a general abilities group may also be formed.[37]


The demographic of the school are fast evolving and Year 7 is currently 90 per cent Asian, which has the flow-on effect on the school's traditional sports of rowing, cricket and rugby.

Old Boys Bulletin, April 2001

Sydney Boys High School has frequently been embroiled in controversy for racial issues, its selection criteria and its proposal to modify it, and allegations of nepotism or other favouritism. Sydney Boys High School, like other schools, has seen several (then) minorities matriculate to it and graduate from it, including non-British, non-Irish European minorities, such as Italian Australians, Maltese Australians, and Greek Australians; in 2002, however, the school was at the centre of a media furore over comments by Old Boys made in regard to its ethnic — namely East Asian and South Asian; erroneously merely East Asian — composition.[38]

In 2013, the school was again featured in the media for its proposal to modify its selection criteria.[39] This proposal, supported by Principal Kim A. Jaggar, President of the School Council Julie Connolly, and President of the School Parents and Citizens Association Ian Sweeting, involved reserving 30 places of the annual Year 7 intake of 180 places for local boys who live within 5 km of the school.[40] Connolly stated that "any racial undertones to earlier campaigns were a thing of the past" and that "the benefit for the school this time is about tying it to its local community". The proposal would, in theory, reduce the load on overcrowded local high schools, of which there are an inadequate amount,[41] and would be a short-term resolution to the problem.[42] Sydney MP Alex Greenwich added, "it will not take away the need for a proper, comprehensive high school in the inner city".[42] As of the 2012 edition of the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities statistics, more than 80% of the students enrolled at Sydney Boys High School have a language background other than English;[43] however, this is not to suggest that these students and their parents or guardians are all recent immigrants or not proficient in English or, broadly, that the school is not necessarily lacking in diversity.

In recent years, allegations of there being an anti-meritocratic selection process have been levelled against the school, as an increasing number of "sport[s] imports" have been admitted in latter years, to bolster the school's ability to more competitively participate in sports against other members of the AAGPS as well as to dilute the school's academic-only image.[44] Furthermore, in part due to the English public school nature of the school and the AAGPS, of which the school is a member, further claims of nepotism, cronyism, and other favouritism have been levelled against the school. Brothers, sons, and grandsons of former students have been allowed entry, though they may not have met the rigorous selection criteria, and are open to win certain awards or prizes.[45]

Another significant long-standing issue on which the school has commented include private coaching or tuition,[46] which has allegedly created a culture that has been regarded as undesirable. In 2002, it was proposed that, of the 180 Year 7 places, 30 places — the so-called "ethos enhancement group" — would be allocated each year on the basis of the Selective Schools Entrance Test (with no extended writing requirement), a detailed curriculum vitae, two school reports, and their achievements in civic, sporting, community, and leadership involvement, similar to the manner by which students are admitted to grammar and private schools, such as Sydney Grammar School.

One eminent alumnus of the school, James Spigelman, Chief Justice of the New South Wales, himself an Australian of Polish-Jewish descent and a practising Jew, said, in an address at the school dated 16 February 1999, that:

... Our careers are particular manifestations of the ability of this school, by reason of its tradition of selection on the grounds of academic excellence, to make available opportunities to persons from backgrounds which may otherwise restrict such opportunities. The ability to obtain an education which is pitched at a level appropriate to the capacities of particular students, is the basis for the equality of opportunity, to which I have referred.

From time to time you will find comments made which characterise the acceptance of excellence in education as in some way “elitist”. I refute that. My personal experience and that of many other persons who have come from family backgrounds that do not offer any particular privilege, is that excellence in education is the way we have broken through the existing elites.

In my opinion, those who would undermine the achievement of, or the recognition of, academic excellence in our schools are the true elitists. For they place barriers in the path of those who can overwhelm an entrenched elite. ...[47]

Notable alumni

Sydney Boys High School has produced numerous prominent alumni, referred to as "Old Boys". Many graduates are active in alumni organisations, such as the Sydney High School Old Boys Union (OBU), the High Club, and High Rugby Friends.

See also


  1. Jaggar, Kim. "Principal's Message". Sydney Boys High School. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  2. "Our Schools - Sydney Region Public Schools". Department of Education and Communities.
  3. "2012 Top Public High Schools in Sydney". Better Education. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  4. "AAGPS History". Info. Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  5. Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its award". The Age.
  6. Waugh, Joseph W. (2008.) Sydney Boys' High School: the foundation years 1883–1891, Sydney High School Old Boys' Union, Darlinghurst, Australia.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Sydney Boys and Girls High Schools".
  8. "Sydney Girls' High School, Castlereagh Street Side, March 1922". State Library of New South Wales.
  9. Theobald, Marjorie R. (1996.) Knowing Women: Origins of Women's Education in Nineteenth-Century Australia, Cambridge University Press, p. 114.
  10. "Sport - Sydney Boys High School". Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  11. Doherty, Linda (27 November 2003). "Sydney Boys' knows how to rock the boat: invite the girls to share your shed". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  12. "History - Sydney Boys High School". Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  13. "Today in History - April 4". New South Wales State Records.
  14. adb online
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 "Enrolment Policy - Year 7". Sydney Boys High School. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  16. "Enrolment Policy - Years 8–12". Sydney Boys High School.
  17. "Ability Grouping". Sydney Boys High School.
  18. "Grouping Policy". Sydney Boys High School.
  20. Curriculum - Sydney Boys High School
  21. student of SBHS
  22. 1 2 3 School Map - Sydney Boys High School
  23. Arlington, Kim (8 March 2012). "Big wet turns heads up for traditional GPS rowing festival". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  26. Past Winners Year 11 Karl Cramp Debating Challenge
  27. Past Winners Year 11-12 Hume-Barbour Debating Challenge
  30. 1 2 3 Dart, Jonathan (25 February 2009). "Worst XV: Sydney Boys drops the ball after 100 years of rugby". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  31. Sydney Boys High School. (2008.) High Notes, 9(19).
  32. "History of Lodge, Sydney High School". The Schools Lodge.
  33. 1 2 "History of the Sydney Boys High School Foundation, Inc. Outterside Centre, and Fairland Pavilion".
  34. 1 2 Centennial Parklands. "What's in a Name?"
  35. Sydney Boys High School. (2008.) High Notes, 9(33), p. 2.
  36. Sydney Boys High School. (2008.) High Notes, 9(37).
  37. 1 2 "Grouping Policy: Diagnostic Grouping of Year 7". Sydney Boys High School.
  38. "Put to the test". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 20 April 2002.
  39. Tovey, Josephine. "Selective students against local intake". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  40. Tovey, Josephine. "Class action for local boys". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  41. Gorman, James (24 April 2013). "Sydney Boys High School could host inner-city students to alleviate overcrowding issues short-term". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  42. 1 2 Tovey, Josephine (24 May 2013). "Year 7 rethink for Sydney Boys". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  43. Domjen, Briana (4 November 2012). "English second language of selective students at Sydney schools". Herald Sun. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  44. Zavos, Spiro (5 September 2008). "In memory of rugby at Sydney Boys High School". The Roar. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  45. Noonan, Gerard (6 April 2002). "Good old boys push to keep Sydney High in the family". Sydney Morning herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  46. Sheehan, Paul (26 August 2002). "Reversal of fortunes for Sydney Boys' High as King's is lost for wordsmiths". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  47. "Address by the Honourable JJ Spigelman, Chief Justice of New South Wales". Supreme Court of New South Wales. 16 February 1999. Retrieved 13 July 2013.

Coordinates: 33°53′25″S 151°13′04″E / 33.890201568°S 151.217895507°E / -33.890201568; 151.217895507

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