Early schools in the Hawkesbury district

For the first decade or so there were no dedicated schools in the Hawkesbury district and if any learning took place it would have been in the privacy of the home.

John Harris, a missionary set up one of the first schools in the Hawkesbury in a rented building from 1803. In 1805 the Government employed persons to produce "Bricks for building a large School House and Offices with Gardens etc. for a House of Public Institution for Male Youth of this Colony" [1] this was located in what is now known as Bridge Street in Windsor and John Harris transferred his school into the new building in 1805.

Other early schools included :-

School House adjacent to St. John's Church of England, Wilberforce NSW taken in 1937
Source : Hawkesbury City Council Library Service

Denominational and Private schools in the Hawkesbury

These early government assisted schools were established to provide very basic literacy skills with some religious instruction. These schools eventually became Parochial school managed by the Church of England. Other religious denominations such as the Catholics, Wesleyans and Presbyterians established their own church schools in various centres in the Hawkesbury. Some of these schools included :

Class at Currency Creek School now Glossodia, 1918
Source : Hawkesbury City Council Library Service
Early days of Windsor: by James Steele, pp. 117 - 129 (Sydney; Tyrells, 1916 Reprinted Library of Australian History, 1975)
Macquarie Country: by D. G. Bowd, pp.182 - 186 (Sydney; Library of Australian History, 1969 repr 1994)
Kurrajong, an early history: by Vivienne Webb, pp.47-53 (Sydney; the author, 1980)

Public education in the Hawkesbury

Public education in the Hawkesbury commenced in the Hawkesbury district in 1860 when the National School was established in Richmond. Following the Public School Act, 1867 Windsor residents began campaigning for a public school. The foundation stone was eventually laid by Henry Parkes in 1869 and the school opened in 1870. With the Public Instruction Act, 1880 a specific government department was responsible for the introduction of compulsory education in NSW. Funding was also withdrawn from denominational schools therefore with the introduction of public schools, a number of the denominational and private schools closed down.

Richmond Public School in the 1950s
Source : Hawkesbury City Council Library Service

The following list is extracted from Government Schools of New South Wales 1848-1998: 150 Years published by New South Wales Department of Education and Training, 1998. Please refer to this publication for further information concerning the history of government schools in New South Wales.


  • dr - District Rural School
  • eps - Evening Public School
  • hh - House to House School
  • hs - High School
  • ht - Half-Time School
  • prov - Provisional School
  • ps - Public School
  • sps - Superior Public School

Other Educational Institutions in the Hawkesbury

The Hawkesbury Agricultural College was established in 1891 to instruct and educate youths in agriculture. A number of sites on Crown land were proposed but eventually Richmond was chosen. The college officially commenced on 16th March 1891, with twenty-six students under the leadership of Principal John Low Thompson. In 1895 the foundation stone for the college was laid and classes were held on the new campus and accommodation available on site in 1896.

Original courses at the college were related to agriculture including dairying, pig-raising, sheep, horticulture management, poultry & crop-growing. Courses have changed over the years & the first lady student at the college was a Miss Manning in 1893, completing an apiary course. In 1970 the became a College of Advanced Education and in 1989 the Hawkesbury Agricultural College combined with Nepean College of Advanced Education to form the University of Western Sydney. The network has campuses at Hawkesbury, Nepean, Macarthur & Quakers Hill.

The Western Sydney Institute of TAFE - Richmond College was officially opened in 1994 on land adjacent to the University. The university and college have co-operated together to form the unique educational precinct, sharing facilities and services. Courses include horticulture & agriculture, Aviation, Business Services and Computing.

Education today in the Hawkesbury district

According to the 1996 Census 28% (15,822) of the residents of the Hawkesbury were attending some type of educational institution. Of these, the majority (10,854) were attending Infants, Primary & Secondary institutions. 75% of these were attending government schools while 25% were attending private schools.

Source : Hawkesbury Social Plan : Part 1 Hawkesbury Social Atlas / Hawkesbury City Council, 2000 p. 59 and ABS 1996 census

  • Some of the private schools in the district in the year 2000 include :
  • Arndell Anglican College at Oakville
  • Bede Polding College at South Windsor
  • Kuyper Christian School at North Richmond
  • Hawkesbury Independent School at Kurrajong
  • Chisholm Catholic Primary School at Bligh Park
  • St. Matthew's Catholic School at Windsor
  • St. Monica's Catholic School at Richmond

[1] 7th August 1803/Historic Records of Australia, Series 1, vol. 4 p. 311