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Telopea Park School

Short History Of Telopea Park School

Telopea Park School opened on 11th September 1923, in the presence of a large crowd that included 600 children. It was so named because of its location, the area being known as Telopea Park in Walter Burley Griffin’s plan of the city. Telopea "speciosissima", the botanical name for the New South Wales waratah, formed part of the original school badge.

Telopea Park School opened with a staff of two, a headmaster, Mr. Cecil Henry and one assistant. Fifty-eight pupils were enrolled in the first two days. By the end of the school year, the student numbers had risen to 120. In December 1925, eleven teachers catered for the needs of around 400 primary and secondary students and the first students sat for the Intermediate and Leaving Certificates. In 1929, the school was made an Intermediate High School, a title it retained until 1938. In 1930, Canberra University College, forerunner of the Australian National University, opened in the school premises after hours.

In August 1939, high school classes were finally transferred to the newly built Canberra High School in Acton. Primary classes remained at Telopea Park School. In 1955, Telopea Park School was classified as a high school and the name changed to Telopea Park High School. Primary school classes were later removed to the newly established Griffith and Forrest Primary Schools. Between 1959 and 1976 further additions were made to the existing buildings, including extensions to the front foyer, the construction of a three-story block of classrooms and the building of a new library and canteen complex. The Assembly Hall was built in 1960.

The 1970s and 1980s also brought considerable changes in the management and curriculum of the Telopea. In 1974, the administration of the school was officially transferred from New South Wales to the ACT Schools Authority and two years later, with the advent of the College system in the ACT, Telopea Park High School became a 7-10 high school. By the early 1980s, dwindling enrolments and the threat of possible closure led to considerable debate about the school’s future. The idea of combining a local high school with a French bilingual school appeared the best solution. On July 4th 1983, the signing of "An Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic Concerning the Establishment of a French-Australian School in Canberra (Telopea Park School)" took place in the Assembly Hall at Telopea Park High School.

The French-Australian School at Telopea Park School commenced operations in 1984. The school now consisted of a Kindergarten to Year 6 bilingual primary school and a neighbourhood high school, where students could either continue their bilingual studies to Year 10 or study a normal ACT high school program. In 2006, the school has an enrolment of over 1050 student and The French- Australian program is firmly in place. This and the mainstream program in the secondary school have received interest and praise from many different quarters. Both the primary and secondary sectors are in great demand and both are currently over-enrolled.

Archive Contents

Administrative Records

  1. Student Records 1955-1976 - 40 archival boxes
  2. Student rolls and Registers 1923-1969 - 10 large boxes
  3. Document files - School History inc the establishment of the French Australian school, school publications
  4. Minutes of affiliated bodies eg. Pand C and School Board

List of Records of Main Events

  1. Programs for sporting events, awards nights, drama productions
  2. Documents relating to signing of French/Australian agreement 1983

School Publications

  1. School Magazines 1930-1932, 1968- 2007 (these have a variety of names and formats)
  2. School History "Illustrated History of Telopea Park School 1923-1983"
  3. A variety of curriculum documents and reviews of the school

Other Records

  1. Ephemera including student work, newspaper cuttings, plans, architectural drawings etc.
  2. Memorabilia including souvenir materials, uniforms badges etc.
  3. Artworks including very large painting, other paintings and original drawings, sculptures and installations
  4. Photographs - 54 albums plus 70 large prints plus 6 unsorted boxes of photographs

Collection Policy

The school collects materials relevant to the history of Telopea Park School, the building and contents, students, staff and the wider school community. It also takes into account ACT privacy legislation and does not collect confidential information such as aptitude testing results.


Access to the collection is via the school archivist and an appointment is necessary for this. Please note that the school is constrained by the provisions of Privacy Legislation and access to student records is limited. The school is working on a project for digitising school photographs and also some early registers.


Address: New South Wales Crescent, Barton, ACT 2600

Ph: +61 2 6205 5599

Fax: +61 2 6205 5572


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