St Andrew's Cathedral School

St Andrew's Cathedral School is an independent, non-selective, Anglican, co-educational, day school located in the heart of the city of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The school currently caters for approximately 1,100 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

As the school was founded in 1885, from the Cathedral traditions, 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 12) in 1999. In 2008, the school became a co-educational school with boys and girls enroled from Kindergarten to Year 12.

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

The school announced that it anticipates introducing the International Baccalaureate program by around 2009.


St Andrew's Cathedral School was founded by the third Bishop of Sydney, Dr Alfred Barry. The School was opened on 14 July 1885 in the St Andrew's Schoolroom in Pitt Street, Sydney. 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". When it was opened, the School occupied the Old Baptist Church premises, on the corner of Bathurst and Kent Streets, where it remained until 1882. 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 Church Hill.

The School made several subsequent moves to the old Deanery (Church House) in 1917 and to the "Worker" 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 adjoining the old "Worker Building.

Many changes and developments have taken place since then, and for the three and a half years from 1973 to August 1976, the School was housed temporarily in the CENEF Building, Kent Street.

On Friday, 13 August 1976, St. Andrew's Cathedral School returned to its original site and occupied the seventh and eighth floors of the St. Andrew's House.. The School has its own entrance off Kent Street and a dedicated School lift to Levels 7 and 8.

The School commenced outdoor education in 1982 using hired properties. During 1984, the School purchased a 100 acre rural property at Penrose, near Moss Vale in the NSW Southern Highlands for its own outdoor education campsite.

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

The Reverend Canon Melville Cooper Newth OBE, the eleventh and longest-serving Headmaster of St Andrew’s Cathedral School, died peacefully on 21 October, 2004, aged 90. Canon Newth served the School as Headmaster for 38 years.

2005 marked the School 120th years of education in the city. At the same time, Mr. Phillip Heath celebrated his 10th Anniversary year as the Head of School, having started at St Andrew's Cathedral School on May 8 1995. This year also saw the School Council confirm the decision to vacate the Leadership and Enterprise Centre at 495 Kent Street (fondly known as "495").

2006 was the centenary year of the Old Andreans' Association (OAA) which is the alumni organisation of St Andrew's Cathedral School. The OAA was originally the Old Boys' Union, with the name being changed with the entry of girls to the Senior College. The OAA was established by the School's third Headmaster, the Reverend Percy Simpson in 1906. The first president of the then Union was the Hon Mr Justice Webb, a judge of the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW. He held office for over 40 years. In the last five years, the OAA has become an incorporated entity, and has improved its governance arrangements greatly. It continues to provide a means of maintaining contacts between Old Andreans and their school. Some other distinguished members of the OAA include Mr Ken Tribe AC, Lt-Gen John Grey AC as well as Simon Tedeschi, Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, composer John Antill, Julian Hamilton and Paralympic swimmer Matt Levy.

On 13 March 2006, Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and the Earl of Wessex, with representatives of Commonwealth nations, and Australian community leaders were present at the Commonwealth Day Observance in St Andrew’s Cathedral. The invitation came from the Prime Minister and Mrs Howard, and the Dean and Chapter of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney. The Choristers from St Andrew’s Cathedral School sang at the service, which was led by the Dean of Sydney, the Very Rev. Phillip Jensen, who designed and wrote the service, including special prayers. The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev. Dr Peter Jensen preached the sermon. The Prime Minister and the Premier of NSW read the Bible passages. The music at the service was under the direction of Ross Cobb, the School’s Master of Choristers. The School was also privileged to be asked to carry flags of the 53 Commonwealth countries into the Cathedral before the service began. These students were chosen from the 250 people in the Senior College who volunteered for the task. In addition, the School Captains enjoyed the special treat of attending the refreshments at Admiralty House representing the School.

On 22 September 2006, a new entrance to the school was opened. The entrance was opened by former Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Reverend Sir Marcus Loane, KBE and attended by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, as well as many parents and friends of students. The entrance is directly opposite the west door to St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney Square and is spacious and has a contemporary design. The school's address subsequently changed from 474 Kent Street, Sydney to Sydney Square, Sydney.

In 2007, the School announced that it has successfully negotiated a five year lease on 499 Kent Street, just opposite the current St Andrew's House campus. This building includes two floors and an off-street storage facility. This building will be used for an examination centre, faculty and administration offices. At the same time, the School also successfully negotiated a lease with the Wentworth Park Stadium Trust commencing January 2008. This lease will allow the School to use the Wentworth Park sporting fields and stadium. The lease also includes the exclusive use of a 3 story building on the eastern side of the field and change rooms on the western side. The initial lease for Wentworth Park will be for one year only.

Heads of school

Period Details
1885 – 1892 The Rev A R Rivers, MA
1893 – 1895 The Rev G D Shenton, MA
1895 – 1907 The Rev P J Simpson, MA
1907 – 1916 The Rev E N Wilton, BA
1916 – 1918 The Rev R E Freeth, MA
1918 – 1920 The Rev C H Lea, MA, ThSchol
1920 – 1929 The Rev M Searcy, MA, ThL
1930 – 1934 The Rev L N Sutton, MA, ThL
1934 – 1938 The Rev M K Jones, MBE, BA, ThL
1938 – 1941 The Rev S C S Begbie, ThL
1941 – 1979 The Rev Canon M C Newth, OBE, BA, ThL, FACE
1979 – 1995 Dr A K Beavis, BSc, DipEd, MEdAdmin, PhD, ARCM, AmusA, FACE
1995 – Present Mr P J Heath, BA(Hons), MA(Hons), DipEd, FACE, MACEA


St Andrew’s Cathedral School resides in three high rise buildings separated by a city block. There are multiple tenancies in all three buildings with the school occupying the three top floors and the south end of ground level in St Andrew’s House in Sydney Square, the six bottom floors in the Bishop Barry Senior College in Druitt Street, and two top levels in the Robinson Centre in Kent Street.

In addition, St Andrew’s 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 at Penrose, in the NSW Southern Highlands for its own outdoor education campsite.


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 the last year of school in 2008. In 2006, the youngest female student was enroled in Year 8, and is still continuing her education at St Andrew's. At the commencement of the second quarter, a second female student enroled (but later left, due to personal reasoning). To bring the total back up to 2, a third female student enrolled and is still continuing her education. During the year of 2007, 10 girls were enroled into the middle school (by requests made privately to the school). The School introduced twin classes (single-sex classes) in middle school (Years 7 to 9) 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 mixed classes. St Andrew's is the first independent school in NSW to choose this twinning model in a coeducation environment.

In mid 2007, the designs for the new Middle School girls uniform were completed and on display.

House system

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

The houses compete for the Dean Pitt Shield.

Gawura campus

On 23 April 2007, the School opened a school for Indigenous students, named "Gawura" (meaning "Whale"), on the rooftop of St Andrew's House campus. Gawura is the Australia's first independent campus for Indigenous children.

Students in Gawura studies Aboriginal language and culture, basic numeracy and literacy skills and all students are sponsored by members of the community, funded mostly through World Vision-style sponsorships.

During the planning stage, the school search for no fewer than 12 different sites in the Redfern area to built the Gawura campus, however, the school faced opposition from some members of the Redfern's community.


The school uniform is well known by people who reside or work in the Sydney CBD due to its notable inclusion of high-heels for female students - the only such school to allow this in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Cathedral choir

The Cathedral Choir can trace its origins to the consecration of St. Andrew's Cathedral in 1868 and this establishes this group 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.

A number of choristers participated in the 2004 music tour to the USA although this tour differed from previous UK music tours because of the liturgy expectation in cathedrals visited by the School. In addition a number of cathedrals, including the Washington National Cathedral, offered mixed gender chorales so numerous female singers from St Andrew's also contributed to church choral music at these locations.

The choir has made several recordings and the latest CDs are 'Fairest Lord Jesus' and Choral Evensong. The latter was produced from a service broadcast throughout Britain on BBC Radio 3 at the time of the Sydney Olympics.

During the school terms the choir sings at the morning Sunday service at 10.30am and at Evensong on Thursdays at 5.30pm. The choristers also sing a service of Morning Prayer (Matins) each Wednesday at 8.00am

Since April 2005, the Girls' Vocal Ensemble sings Matins on Tuesday mornings.

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 sport program, middle and senior school students can choose from over twenty different sports and activities ranging from rugby, netball, soccer and hockey to debating, yoga, fencing, rock climbing and chess. In summer students compete in swimming, athetics, basketball, softball, water polo and cricket in the ISA competition. The School offers rowing, rock climbing and squash as recreational activities to other students. The school also participates in a large number of sporting type events not only within the school but also against other schools state wide, and occasionally outside the state.


The School has a large number of its students involved in musical ensembles and curriculum music classes, as well as having a large amount of students who play and learn instruments. In 2001 there was an orchestral and choral tour to Italy and England, in 2002 a music tour to England and Ireland, and in 2004 a music tour to the United States of America. As well as touring, the school holds many in-school musical events, including the mid year concert Showcase.


As well as teaching elective drama to students, the school hosts and puts on many engaging drama events including plays, festivals and other theatre productions.


The school put on its first major musical production with West Side Story in 2003, which was performed in Sydney's Footbridge Theatre. The musical was directed by the Head of School, Phillip Heath, with the school's Head of the Music Department Chris Belshaw acting as musical director. It was performed over three days, with three evening performances and one matinée performance.

This was followed up in 2005 with Godspell, performed in St. Andrew's Cathedral. The building was judged to be ideal for the material, although several technical difficulties had to be overcome, and viewing angles were limited.

The school's 2006 performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance was performed at the Seymour Centre in its Everest Theatre. 'Pirates' attracted an average of 500 people to each of its four performances.

The school's most complex challenge has been its 2007 production of Les Misérables. Unable to perform it in a professional theatre due to performance rights issues, the school elected to perform it in the Chapter House adjoining St. Andrew's Cathedral. Due to its limited capacity of only 250-odd seats, the school chose to double the number of performances - eight over two weeks (Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday Matinées).

The 2008 performance of Guys and Dolls took place at the Seymour Centre at the University of Sydney. This major success set the bar for future performances.

Outdoor Education

St Andrew's offers a outdoor education program that includes Year 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 run from.

The School also offers more challenging optional overseas expeditions for older students, such as the students have walked the Inca Trail, climbed in the Himalayas and built play areas for the children of Indian and African villages. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme is offered to all students in Year 9 and above.

Mock trial

St Andrew's has for the last few years had considerable success in the Mock Trial Competition, organised and operated by the Law Society of New South Wales, participated in by both public and non-government schools throughout NSW. In 2004, the team came Runners-Up to Mereweather High School, and in 2005 the school team of Year 11 students went on to become winners of the competition. In 2006, an elite selection of that team took part in an International Mock Trial Competition against the UK National Mock Trial team Ysgol Tregib, Cardiff, United Kingdom, and once again was victorious. Continuing on from these successes, St Andrews students have excelled in the Mock Trial competition, and their previous successes have set the tone for what is sure to be a popular and challenging co-curricular activity.Unfortunately in 2008 St Andrew's was closely defeated by Sydney Girls High School.

Notable alumni



See also

External links

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