The King's School, Parramatta

For other schools of the same name, see King's School (disambiguation).
The King's School, Parramatta

Fortiter et Fideliter (Latin)
"Bravely and Faithfully"[1]
87–129 Pennant Hills Road
North Parramatta, Sydney
Coordinates 33°47′11″S 151°1′22″E / 33.78639°S 151.02278°E / -33.78639; 151.02278Coordinates: 33°47′11″S 151°1′22″E / 33.78639°S 151.02278°E / -33.78639; 151.02278
Type Independent day and boarding
Denomination Anglican
Established 1831[2]
Founder William Grant Broughton
Chairman Dr Robert Mackay
Headmaster Dr Timothy Hawkes OAM
Employees ~241[3]
Years K12
Gender Boys
Enrolment ~1,500[3] (2011)
Colour(s) Sky blue and white
Slogan Academic excellence with character development
Athletics AAGPS
Affiliations JSHAA
G20 Schools

The King's School is an independent Anglican, day and boarding school for boys, located in North Parramatta in the western suburbs of Sydney. Founded in 1831, it is Australia's oldest independent school. The School is a founding member of the nine Great Public Schools of New South Wales and is situated on a 148-hectare (365-acre) campus.

In the geographical heart of Sydney, the School has about 1,500 students from kindergarten to Year 12[3] and about 430 boarders from Years 5–12, making it one of the largest boarding schools in Australia. It is Australia's oldest boarding school.[2][4]

The school is affiliated with the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference,[5] the Association of Heads of independent schools of Australia (AHISA),[6] the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA),[7] and the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA).[2] It is a G20 School and is a founding member of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales (AAGPS).[8]

In 2010, The Age reported that The King's School ranked equal-seventh among Australian schools based on the number of alumni who had received a top Order of Australia honour.[9]


In January 1830, the archdeacon of New South Wales, William Grant Broughton, devised a plan for the establishment of grammar schools in the colony under the governorship of Sir Ralph Darling. The Duke of Wellington assisted in securing royal patronage, the text of which stated that with the authority of King George IV such schools would be named "The King's Schools". It is said, although no documentation exists, that royal sanction was granted by King William IV. Two schools were opened in 1832: the first in Pitt Street, Sydney, the other in George Street, Parramatta, 25 kilometres (16 mi) inland. The former, opened in January, closed eight months later after the death of its first headmaster, while the Parramatta campus remained open under the stewardship of the Reverend Robert Forrest, who was appointed headmaster in 1831.

According to The King's School 1831–1981, on opening day, Monday 13 February 1832, with a handful of pupils.[10] Forrest was paid a salary of £100 per annum, but it was inclusive of a land and housing grant. From fees of £28 and £8 per annum for boarders and day pupils respectively he was expected to maintain boarders and pay the salaries of his assistants, whose fees were £4 per annum for each pupil taught. According to an article in the Australian Historical Society Journal in 1903, enrolment reached over 100 pupils before the end of the first year.[10]

By 1839, Forrest's health had deteriorated and he submitted his resignation. Ill-health caused the school to experience a rapid succession of headmasters in the following decade. Reverend William Clarke was appointed headmaster to replace Forrest, and Reverend John Broughton was appointed master in charge of boarders. Two years later Reverend W.W. Simpson became headmaster, but an epidemic of scarlet fever in 1843 forced his reisgnation. Reverend James Walker, a notable botanist and classical scholar, succeeded Simpson, but ill-health resulted in his resignation in December 1847.

In 1848 Forrest returned to the school, which had now had 60 pupils, but he was again forced to resign due to illness in September 1853. In July 1854, the Reverend Thomas Druitt was appointed headmaster and established military drill in April 1855, a compulsory subject overseen by W. Bamford. Druitt had been under the impression that his appointment was permanent and he refused to relinquish his position upon the arrival of his replacement, Reverend Frederick Armitage, in January 1855. It was not until the intervention of Bishop Frederic Barker in May 1855 that Druitt agreed to stand down.

Under the helm of Armitage, the school experienced a protracted period of expansion in facilities and enrolments, due to his significant wealth, which allowed him to pay for many of the improvements personally. The number of pupils increased to nearly 200, 150 of whom were boarders. Pupils studied for seven hours per day in summer and six hours in winter. As well as religious holidays, there were two official school holidays per year, including a mid-winter vacation from 15 June to 15 July, and a mid-summer vacation from 24 December to 31 January. In 1859 Armitage adopted school arms similar to those of The King's School Canterbury in England, which according to The King's School 1831–1981, was due to the erroneous assumption that the Australian school was named after the English one. He applied for leave in 1862 to attend to his ill wife and to obtain a mathematics degree at the University of Cambridge, but he never returned. By the end of his tenure, he had raised the standard and quality of education to a high level.[11]

The King's School c. 1890

The acting headmaster appointed prior to Armitage's departure, LJ Trollope, saw a drastic contraction in the number of pupils to just 10 by June 1864, resulting in the closure of the school. There are varying accounts as to the reasons underpinning the school's rapid and sudden decline, including the school's poor financial situation, the dilapidated buildings and competition from other schools, while The King's School 1831–1981 claims that it was a series of successive rainstorms causing the collapse of the schoolroom roof that forced its closure. Other accounts have blamed Armitage as lacking the discipline to continue as headmaster. The Australian Dictionary of Biography argues that while the departure of Armitage was not ideal, "a headmastership devoid of endowment or guaranteed salary in a colonial school without a council or adequate financial support could hardly have been attractive to a scholarly English gentleman."[11] The school reopened in January 1869 with the Rev. George Fairfowl Macarthur as Headmaster. Macarthur had been a pupil at The King's School during its early years.


School entrance

The King's School originally rented Harrisford House in George Street, Parramatta, near the wharves on Parramatta River. The school soon outgrew its campus in George Street, and following a submission to the crown, it was provided with land and premises further upriver in Parramatta, close to the Government House. The school remained there for 130 years until August 1968 when it completed its relocation to the current site in North Parramatta, originally Gowan Brae, the family residence and property of James Burns, co-founder of Burns Philp and Company. Since the relocation, the school maintained a 147-hectare (365-acre) site, while other sections of Gowan Brae were sold to Redeemer Baptist School and Tara Anglican School for Girls, with as well as the NSW Synod of the Uniting Church as the Uniting Theological College. A further section was sold for residential development, now the locality of Kingsdene in the suburb of Carlingford.[12] A small patch of land is still owned by the James Burns and his descendents, and this is for the family cemetery at the centre of the Senior School.

The senior school (years 7–12) is located on the east of the property, while the preparatory school (K–6) is located on the west of the property. Within the senior school, there are extensive facilities, including the Centre for Learning and Leadership, dining hall and separate buildings for visual arts, music, science, drama, agriculture, PDHPE and industrial design and technology. Futter Hall, the main school hall, and the staff centre adjacent to it are other facilities present in the academic precinct, known as 'the Quadrangle'. There are 35 classrooms, all equipped with audio-visual and computer facilities. The school theatre was renovated in June 2010, adding a second smaller theatre and drama classrooms. The school also opened its new $20 million science centre in March 2014, and includes classrooms and labs where students can work with collaboratively with researchers from The University of Sydney.

Sporting facilities include 15 playing fields used for both cricket and rugby union, 14 tennis courts, 12 basketball courts (nine outdoor, three indoor), seven soccer fields, a 50-metre lap pool, a 25-metre swimming pool, a diving pool, and a gym under which there is an indoor rifle range. The Sports Centre opened in 2007 and includes two basketball courts, a fully equipped gym and fitness centre, and PDHPE classrooms. The school also has a rowing facility in Putney on the Parramatta River.

There are also a number of boarding houses for students who reside at the school, and private residences adjacent to the boarding houses for teachers and their families who provide pastoral care for these boys.

Other features of the school include an agricultural yard, greenhouse, a dam, vineyard, bamboo forest, a mountain biking course, and a number of heritage landmarks.

House system

Senior school

The Centre for Learning and Leadership, which includes a library, an auditorium, computer laboratories and classrooms

Until 2011 the school had 14 houses, for both day students and boarders. The boarding houses comprised Gowan Brae, Baker, Bishop Barker, Broughton, Forrest, Hake Harris, Macarthur and Waddy, and the day student houses Britten, Burkitt, Dalmas, Kurrle, Macquarie and Wickham. In that year, the school made a number of changes to its house system, which now consists of six-day houses and five boarding houses. The boarding houses include Gowan Brae, Baker-Hake, Bishop Barker-Harris, Broughton-Forrest, Macarthur-Waddy, and the day student houses include Britten, Burkitt, Dalmas, Kurrle, Macquarie and Wickham. The houses are hubs for students' recreational and pastoral activities.

Kurrle and Wickham were created as a result of an expansion in enrolments in 2001, and the remaining Houses have been in existence for several decades. Their names are derived from former Headmasters and Deputy Headmasters, the founder of the school (Broughton), and the traditional name of the school site (Gowan Brae).

Preparatory school

The preparatory school has four houses: Stiles, Thomas, Blaxland and Harrison. Blaxland includes both boarders and day students, and boarders are housed within Gowan Brae, which is shared with Year 7 students. Each year there are competitions between the four houses like athletics competitions and swimming carnivals.

Gowan Brae serves as an intermediate step between primary and secondary schooling, allowing Year 7 students the opportunity to adapt to the unique institutions of the senior school while remaining within a common peer group of similar age.


The school uniform is the oldest military uniform still worn in Australia.[13] It consists of navy blue trousers with a vertical red stripe, a white shirt, black shoes, and a jacket made of a black and white woollen material, stitched in a birdseye pattern. It has red cuffs and red tabs on each side of the collar. The cuffs and epaulets are each surmounted by a braided red "Lovers' Knot". The uniform reflects the military history of the school, and is similar to the blazers worn at the Battle of Waterloo.

William Archer Gunn and fellow King's students in uniform, c. 1931

The jacket may be modified in a number of ways. Military insignia can be stitched onto the right arm to show rank in the Australian Army Cadets, a white lanyard may be worn by members of the Marching Band, and the Regimental Sergeant Major may wear the Coat of Arms on the left arm. Cadet Under Officers wear a different grey jacket, which has diamond lozenges on the shoulder tabs and a silver braided 'Lover's Knot'.

All students except the monitors wear one badge on a red tab on the right collar of the jacket. This is because students of lower rank would have carried rifles over one shoulder, thus damaging the additional badge, while monitors would instead be armed with pistols. House monitors wear one badge each side and school monitors wear one badge on each side with blue collar tabs. The school captain wears one crown on each blue collar tab. All the buttons are silver in colour, and are manufactured by Stokes & Sons.

In Years 11 and 12 students are allowed to wear a white pin-striped navy blue blazer (known as a butchers coat) or a sky-blue "honours blazer". Both blazers have pockets that may have special stitching commemorating academic, sporting or cultural achievements in the form of honours, full or half colours. Outstanding achievement is rewarded by honours colours and is signified by the sky-blue blazer and gold embroidery on the blazer's pocket. Full colours are represented by white embroidery and half colours are shown by dark blue embroidery on the pocket of the pin-striped navy blue blazer.

The grey jacket and blazers must be worn with a standard black tie commemorating the death of Queen Victoria (although this was temporarily substituted in 2007 during the 175th anniversary by a navy-blue silk tie, with the King's crest and the number 175 scattered on it).

The preparatory school uniform differs slightly from that of the senior school. Students from Kindergarten to Year 2 wear navy-blue shorts with the vertical red stripe, knee-high black socks and a white pin-striped navy blue (butchers coat) blazer, while students from Years 3–6 wear the same shorts and socks, but with the grey blazer of the senior school.

Co-curricular activities

Co-curricular activities offered by the school include debating, choir, theatre, bands and ensembles, sport, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Clubs for senior students (the Twelve Club, the Cartesian Club, the Scipionic Circle, and the Tom Barrett Society) meet once a month, to discuss the current affairs and present papers on topical issues.

The school produces at least one musical and two drama productions each year. Productions have included Les Misérables, The Pirates of Penzance, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, The Mikado and Grease.

Academic clubs

The headmaster, deputy headmaster, and other senior staff host intellectual clubs composed of promising senior students. The clubs include the Twelve Club, hosted by the headmaster, The Cartesian Club hosted by the deputy headmaster, the Scipionic Circle, hosted by the director of student services, and the Tom Barrett Society, hosted by the school registrar. The members of these clubs are selected for their success in areas of academics, leadership and character.


The preparatory school competes in the JSHAA and ISDA debating competitions, and the senior school in the GPS and ISDA competitions. The school won the ISDA competition, the largest independent schools competition in NSW, for the first time in 2004. The school was represented by national and world championship winning representative teams in 2004.

Cadet corps

The cadet corps's annual passing-out parade on the JS White Oval. The school chapel is in the background.

Founded in 1869, the cadet corps vies with Newington College[14] as the oldest[15] in Australia. All students in Years 9 and 10 are required to undergo cadet training during which they are taught survival techniques, abseiling, shooting, map-reading, marching, and other skills. Each year the corps camp is held at the Singleton Defence Force Base.

The cadet corps has an annual passing-out parade, which commemorates the end of cadets for the year 12, and signifies the transferral of leadership and the unit colours from the Year 12 cadets to selected Year 11 cadets. It is usually presided over by a high-ranking member of the Australian Defence Force and attracts an audience of thousands.

The King's School Marching Band is a central element of the cadet corps, providing the music to which the cadets march during the parade. The band consists mainly of members of the Symphonic Concert Band, and it marches annually at the ANZAC Day Parade in central Sydney. Following an organisational shuffle the Marching Band has been incorporated into the Cadet Corps. There is an annual appointee of a Drum Major of The King's School Marching Band.


The school has a music program that caters for a range of musical abilities, held in the sesquicentenary music building. Music at the school forms part of the curricula and co-curricula programs. The school has two pipe organs: a chapel organ in the memorial chapel and a large baroque pipe organ in Futter Hall.[16]


Year 7 students complete the mandatory 100-hour Board of Studies (NSW) music course, which introduces them to basic concepts of music in a variety of styles. Year 7 boys participate in a singing program and undertake a theory exam toward the end of the year. As part of the Year 8–10 elective program, students can continue to study music in these years. They are required to learn an instrument as part of this course and regular performance assessments take place. For the HSC, students can continue their music studies in either the Music 1 or Music 2 courses, with the option of choosing Music Extension as well. Music 1 and 2 cover a variety of music styles, however, the Music 2 course has a focus on Western art music. Recently the school has been successful in this field, with a number of student performances and compositions nominated for ENCORE.

Co-curricula program

The performing band is a wind ensemble that caters for beginning to intermediate musicians studying grade 4 Trinity Guildhall/AMEB and lower performing a range of symphonic and popular film music. The symphonic concert band is the school's auditioned band and is composed of musicians typically grade 5 and above. The marching band includes members of the senior concert band and selected members of the performing band. The school features three stage bands, the most advanced being the senior stage band. These bands perform jazz and big band pieces at many functions including the Merimbula Jazz Festival.

The school has a chamber string orchestra for experienced players.

There is a non-auditioned choir for boys in the senior school, and the auditioned Schola Cantorum (Latin: meaning "school of singers"); both ensembles are in four vocal parts. In the preparatory school there are three choirs consisting of trebles and altos.

A number of small ensembles exist including piano trios, guitar ensembles, flute ensembles and a number of popular music bands (usually presented as part of the Music 1 course.

Instrumental lessons

Full- and half-period instrumental lessons are offered in piano, pipe organ, guitar, violin, viola, violoncello, contrabass, tuba, horn, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, flute, clarinet, percussion (orchestral and drum-kit), bagpipes, and voice, are available. The school has a variety of music tutors.

Regular concerts and events

The Music Department conducts a number of regular events each year, including the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols, Gala Concert, ensembles concerts, and studio recitals for individual performances. Most events are held in either the Recital Room (part of the Sesquicentenary music building) or Futter Hall.


Sport is compulsory for all students. Senior school students must participate in either rugby union, association football, or cross country in winter, and rowing, cricket, basketball, tennis, athletics or swimming in summer. If personally selected by the sportsmaster, students may represent the school at shooting outside their regular sporting commitments. Students may participate in a sport in which they have achieved excellence (deemed by the sportsmaster). Cricket, rugby union, association football, basketball, tennis, and softball is also available at the preparatory school. The school engages in these sports as a member of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales) with other schools: Saint Ignatius' College, St Joseph's College, Sydney Boys High School, Sydney Grammar School, Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), Newington College, The Scots College and The Armidale School.

King's School eight-oar crew, 1932

Rugby union

The school was instrumental in the development of rugby union in Australia, playing in the first inter-school game against Newington College in 1870. The school has produced 28 Wallabies and four of them have been captains.[17] Interestingly, in 1880 members of the school rugby team also participated in the first recorded soccer match in Sydney against the Wanderers Club.[18] On their 1888 tour of New Zealand and Australia, the British and Irish Lions drew against a team from the school.[19] The rugby union 1st XV has won several GPS Premierships in recent years, including those in 1997–2000, 2002, 2008, and 2009. The team won the 2000 Sanix World Rugby Youth Tournament in Japan. Current and recent Wallabies Stirling Mortlock, Benn Robinson, Dean Mumm, Nick Phipps and Julian Huxley are former students of the school. Other former students including Ben Batger, Daniel Halangahu, Will Caldwell, James Hilgendorf, Ben Hand, Tom Carter, Mitchell Chapman, Hugh Perrett, Lalakai Foketi, Guy Millar and Tim Davidson play in the Super Rugby competition. Greg Jeloudev plays for Australia in the World Rugby Sevens Series. Daniel Conn plays rugby league for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL.


In rowing, the school has won the GPS Head of the River 17 times, including in 2006 and 2007, and the Schoolboy VIII at the National Rowing Championships in 1982, 2001, and 2006. The school won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in 2001 and the Fawley Challenge Cup in 2006.

The school has Old Boys' rugby and football clubs for past students.

See also


  1. "Mission Statement and Goals 2003–2007" (PDF). Headmaster's Welcome. The King's School. 2003. p. 2. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  2. 1 2 3 "The King's School". New South Wales Schools. Australian Boarding Schools Association. Archived from _detail.cfm?schID=132 the original Check |url= value (help) on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  3. 1 2 3 "MySchool". MySchool Profile – ACARA. ACARA. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  4. "Greetings from the Headmaster". Headmaster's Office. The King's School. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  5. "International Members". HMC Schools. The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  6. "AHISA Schools: New South Wales". Association of Heads of independent schools of Australia. April 2007. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  7. "JSHAA New South Wales Directory of Members". Junior School Heads' Association of Australia. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  8. "AAGPS History". Info. Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  9. Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its awards". The Age. Australia. p. 11. The hard copy article included a table of the schools that were ranked in the top ten places, as follows: (first, with 19 awards) Scotch College, Melbourne, (second, with 17 awards) Geelong Grammar School, (third, with 13 awards) Sydney Boys High School, (equal-fourth, with 10 awards each) Fort Street High School, Perth Modern School and St Peter's College, Adelaide, (equal-seventh, with nine awards each) Melbourne Grammar School, North Sydney Boys High School and The King's School, Parramatta, (equal-tenth, with six awards each) Launceston Grammar School, Melbourne High School, Wesley College, Melbourne and Xavier College.
  10. 1 2 "A short history of The King's School, Parramatta". Australian Historical Society. 1903. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
  11. 1 2 Mccormack, Terri (1969). "Frederick Armitage (1827–1906)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 3 (Online ed.). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. p. 49. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
  12. "The King's School". New South Wales. School Choice. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  13. Hawkes, Timothy (2007). "Celebrating 175 Years" (PDF). King's Herald (1). Parramatta, NSW: The King's School (published 9 February 2007). p. 1. Retrieved 2007-10-09..
  14. Australian Army Cadets
  16. "Kings School Parramatta". The Organ Music Society of Sydney. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  17. "Rugby Football History". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  18. Kruger, Andre. "The Southern Cross". Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  19. "British & Irish Lions Match Archive". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
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