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Fort Street High School: Wikis


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Fort Street High School
Fort Street Crest
Faber est suae quisque fortunae (Latin: Every man is the maker of his own fortune)
Established 1849
School type Public, Co-educational, Selective, Day school
Principal John Gaal
Location Sydney, NSW, Australia Australia
Coordinates 33°53′24″S 151°9′10″E / 33.89°S 151.15278°E / -33.89; 151.15278Coordinates: 33°53′24″S 151°9′10″E / 33.89°S 151.15278°E / -33.89; 151.15278
Campus Urban (Petersham)
Enrolment ~ 930 (7-12)
School colours Maroon & White          

Fort Street High School is a co-educational, academically selective, public high school currently located at Petersham, an inner western suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Established in 1849, it is the oldest government high school in Australia,[1] and today, it remains a public school operated by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. Fort Street High School is renowned for the accomplishments that its graduates have achieved, and as a selective school, it draws students from across metropolitan Sydney and across the multicultural spectrum.

To avoid confusion due to the school's history of separation, amalgamation, and eventually, its relocation; the present school is designated Fort Street High School, Petersham for official government purposes.

The school's motto is "Faber est suae quisque fortunae", translated from Latin as "Every man is the maker of his own fortune", which is attributed to the Roman historian Sallust.

Fort Street High School has a sister school, Suginami Sogo High School, in Tokyo, Japan.[2]



The history of public education in Australia began when the Governor of New South Wales, Charles Augustus FitzRoy, established a Board of National Education on 8 January 1848 to implement a national system of education throughout the colony. The board decided to create two model schools, one for boys and one for girls. The site of Fort Street Model School was chosen as the old Military Hospital at Fort Phillip, on Sydney's Observatory Hill.[3] This school was not only intended to educate boys and girls, but also to serve as a model for other schools in the colony. The school's name is derived from the name of a street which ran into the grounds of the hospital and became part of the playground during its reconstruction. The street name is perpetuated in the small street in Petersham that leads to the present school.[3] The school was officially established on 1 September 1849, when the conversion of the building was approved by the government.[3] This original school building is visible today beside the southern approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The establishment of Fort Street School marked the establishment of a non-denominational system of school, where the government undertook the education of its people, separate from religion. The influence of the Fort Street Model School was substantial, forming the basis for education throughout the colonies:

At the same time at the Fort Street National School in Sydney William Wilkins was teaching pupil-teachers how to lead the children of New South Wales out of darkness into the light. He was holding out to them that bright prospect of the day when every locality however remote and every family however humble was supplied with the ameliorating influences of an education, which would teach every man, woman and child in the colony to form the habits of regularity, cleanliness, orderly behaviour, and regard for the rights of both public and private property, as well as the habit of obedience to the law, and respect for duly constituted authority. In Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart his counterparts were preaching the same gospel of humanity marching forward, reaching upward for the light. - Manning Clark, A History of Australia, Vol. 4, The Earth Abideth Forever 1851-1888

In 1911, the school was split into one primary and two secondary schools: Fort Street Public School, Fort Street Boys' High School and Fort Street Girls' High School. Due to space limitations at Observatory Hill, in 1916, the Boy's school was moved to the school's present site, on Taverner's Hill, Petersham. The Girls' school remained at Observatory Hill until 1975, when the two schools were amalgamated to form the current co-educational school at Petersham. During that time, its grounds continued to be consumed by the growing city; for example, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which opened in 1932, took most of the playground. Fort Street Public School remains at Observatory Hill.[3]

The school celebrated its sesquicentenary in 1999.[3] Its student population is now a diverse one; students come from over 100 suburbs in Sydney, from places as far as Hornsby, the Blue Mountains, Cabramatta, and even Canterbury. 539 of the 930 students have one of thirty different languages as their native tongue.[4] Students past and present are referred to as "Fortians".[5]


The Wilkins building of the present Fort Street High School

Fort Street High School is currently located on a single campus on Parramatta Road in Petersham, a suburb in the inner-west of Sydney. The school occupies almost the entire street block, and is surrounded by Parramatta Road, Palace Street and Andreas Street.[6]

The Petersham campus centres on the Romanesque style main building, (formerly known to most staff and students simply as "the old block") now named the Wilkins Building after William Wilkins, who played an instrumental role in the formation of the education system in New South Wales in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The other buildings include the Kilgour building, the Memorial Hall and the newest additions, the Cohen and Rowe buildings, which were completed in 2004.

School facilities include a library, a gymnasium, an oval, tennis courts, basketball courts, cricket practice nets, a canteen, and a performing arts block.

The school's original Observatory Hill campus is now used by the National Trust of Australia.


Fort Street High School is a school of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (DET) and is registered and accredited with the New South Wales Board of Studies, therefore following the mandated curriculum for all years. The curriculum at the school is divided into three parts:[7]

  • Stage 4 - Years 7 and 8
  • Stage 5 - Years 9 and 10
  • Stage 6 - Years 11 and 12

In Stages 4 and 5, students are prepared for the School Certificate at the conclusion of Year 10, and English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, and Physical Education are compulsory courses. Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Design & Technology are compulsory in Stage 4. Additionally, students learn two different languages in Years 7 and 8. They may choose from French, German, Chinese, Japanese, though in year 8 students may choose Italian.[7]

Science class at Fort Street High School, 1930

In Stage 5, students are given a choice of three elective subjects, which include:[7]

The Stage 6 course includes study for the Preliminary Higher School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate (HSC). In order to satisfy requirements for the HSC, each student must complete at least twelve units of study for the Preliminary course and at least ten units for the HSC. The only compulsory subject is English. Students may also undertake Vocational education (VET) courses, which may or may not contribute to their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) in the HSC.[7]

Fort Street High also offers sports as part of its formal and co-curricular programs. Year 7 to 10 students experience sports through the Physical Education program, and Years 8 to 11 participate in Zone and knockout sport. Year 12 students are not required to undertake sport but may part take if requested. Students who are not involved in competition undertake in Year 8 skill-based sport, and in Years 9 to 11 recreational sports. Sports offered include hockey, rugby union, aerobics, basketball, ice Skating, netball, soccer, cricket, squash, swimming, tennis, fencing, baseball, and touch football.[8]

The Instrumental Music Program is the largest co-curricular program in the school involving over 250 students. In 2002, it won the Director-General's School Achievement Award for providing opportunities for students to enrich and expand their expertise as musicians and performers.[9] The large ensembles include the:

And the extension ensembles:

Other extracurricular activities include:

  • Debating
  • Public Speaking
  • Mock Trial- 2009 New South Wales Champions
  • Tournament of the Minds
  • Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme[10]
  • Chess
  • Robotics
  • Photography
  • Knitting

Student representation

The student body is represented by the Student Representative Council (SRC). Four male and four female students from each year are elected by their peers at the end of the third term of each year, excepting Year 7 Representatives, with one of the Year 11 students being elected as SRC president. The SRC is responsible for the annual Valentine's Day Roses and a Year 7 welcome dance, and are exploring more active fundraising for charity.[11] Delegated SRC members sit on the Fort Street High School Council (the governing body of the school) and assist in broader decision-making processes.

School traditions

School assemblies and special events are held at the Memorial Hall

Fort Street utilises a house system. The school is organised into four official Houses, to which each student is assigned. The Houses are named after prominent alumni, two male and two female, and representing different areas of endeavour: Barton, Mawson, Kennedy, and Preston. In addition, an unofficial fifth house, Hetherington, named after the Fortian creator of Mister Squiggle, emerged during the school's Athletics Carnival of 2000. Created to ridicule the Australian culture of sport worship evident in that year's Sydney Olympic Games, members "invaded many races, creating chaos and confusion around the stadium. Some of them were still finishing their 1500m when the relays began."[12] The rebel tradition has been lasting and is now accepted by school authorities as a central facet of Fort Street culture.[13]

Since 1899, the school has published the Fortian magazine, the school's annual review and yearbook. The name later came to refer to all students of the schools past and present[14]. An extensive alumni network is maintained through the school's alumni association, the Fortians' Union, formed by the amalgamation of the Old Boys' Union and the Fort Street Old Girls' Union. In addition to maintaining the alumni network, the Union also assists the school and promotes its traditions. It holds an annual dinner each October, with some student reunions held concurrently with this event.[15] The Fortians' Union publishes Faber Est, a monthly newsletter.

An annual Speech Day is held near the beginning of each year at which student achievements are recognised and awards are presented. An address is given by a prominent alumnus or alumna. In the past, Speech Day events have been held at various venues including the school's Memorial Hall and the Sydney Opera House[14]. In recent years, however, the ceremony has always been held at Sydney Town Hall. However, in 2009, the Speech Day was held at Angel Place.

Throughout its history, the various Fort Street schools have had a number of school songs.[16] At present, at assemblies, the simply-named School Song and Gaudeamus igitur are sung at the beginning of assemblies, with Fort Street's Name Rings Around the World sung as the recessional, at its conclusion.

An officially sanctioned student newspaper known as Note Bene ran for several years until enthusiasm for it waned. During and after Note Bene's time, now-alumnus Christopher Mulligan ran an underground, satirical, unofficial equivalent, Note Male. (a pun on the Latin Note Bene, "note well," the name translates to something like "note badly.")

The FLOP, an annual student revue performed by outgoing Year 12 students, has been running for many years, with references dating back earlier than 1974.[17] It usually involves humorous sketches, often parodying school life and teachers, and, in recent years, the primary medium has been video. Musical pieces, both serious and funny, are often performed. In recent years, various restrictions have been imposed on the FLOP, including a ban on the use of cars in videos, a requirement for videos to not include swearing and a ban on the traditional slut dance. Justified as being improperly close to HSC exams, Principal Roslynne Moxham stated in an address to Year 12 2010 and their parents on the 27th of October 2009 that, as of 2010, the FLOP will be permanently cancelled. In line with Fort Street students' long history of being the source of progressive activism in Australia,[18] the decision is being fiercely contested by student-led protest groups.


See also


  1. ^ Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Amendment Bill 2001: Second Reading
  2. ^ "姉妹校関係締結の調印式" (in Japanese). Suginami Sogo High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  3. ^ a b c d e "History". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  4. ^ "Enrolments". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  5. ^ "Introduction". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  6. ^ "Contact Us". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  7. ^ a b c d "Curriculum". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  8. ^ "Sport". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  9. ^ The Director-General's School Achievement Award - 2002
  10. ^ "Duke of Edinburgh Award". Fort Street High School. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  11. ^ Untitled Document
  12. ^ J. Gaal, 'Fortian Sport- Athletics 2000', The Fortian, Vol. 98, p. 28
  13. ^ T. Leondios, 'Sport', The Fortian, Vol. 106, p. 27
  14. ^ a b Horan (1999)
  15. ^ Fortians Union - Fort Street High School (retrieved 16 Oct 2007)
  16. ^ Fort Street Songster, Fort Street High School, Petersham, c1985, p. 21
  17. ^ Horan (1990)
  18. ^ Campbell, C. (2005). Changing school loyalties and the middle class: A reflection on the developing fate of state comprehensive high schooling. Australian Educational Researcher, 32(1), 3–24.

Further reading

  • Horan, Ronald S. (1999). Maroon and Silver - Fort Street Sesquicentenary 1849–1999. Sydney: Honeysett Press. ISBN 0-9587276-2-7.  
  • Morris, Clarice (1980). "The School on The Hill". Sydney: Morris Publishing. ISBN 0-9593915-0-9.  
  • Horan, Ronald S. (1990). Fort Street. Sydney: Geographics. ISBN 0-9592229-4-4.  

External links

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