St Rose Primary School

(Join us for St Rose School 40th Anniversary Celebration
for more information contact the school or follow link to announcement )

Before the school at Collaroy Plateau was built, children had to go to St Joseph’s Narrabeen, St Kevin’s Dee Why or the State primary schools. In the hope of obtaining a school the Parish held many bottle drives, raffles and any other means of obtaining extra finance to construct the school. The bottle drives were particularly successful, much time was needed to sort, box and deliver to the bottle yard for sale.

Not long after Fr Grady took over the Parish he believed there was sufficient support to construct a school. On 22 May 1972 an adjoining property to the St Rose Church become available and agreement was reached to purchase this battle-axe block at 8 Rose Ave, from a Mrs Quinlan. The purchase was completed in June 1972. This allowed space to construct the intended primary school.

After being advised that 320 Parish children were in State Schools with 160 children in Dee Why and Narrabeen Catholic schools, the Catholic Education Office approved the building of the school.

It was the intent of Fr Grady to use the old cottage on the new property for the Kindergarten whilst the new classrooms for Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd Classes, Toilets and Staff Room, were constructed for use from 1974. Architect Adrian Hickey of Sydney G. Hurst & Kennedy P/L was engaged to design the complex, with preliminary drawings being completed in June 1972 followed by submission for Development Approval.

Local residents made many objections to Council and in the news media. Apparently the Councillors of Warringah Shire Council also did not want a Catholic school on the Plateau and were very vocal in their objection. All the reasons revolved around noise to residents, reduced property values, lack of parking and that there were two State Primary schools on the Plateau. At a Council Meeting in early October 1972 the majority of the Councillors were against approval for the School. However they agreed to a site inspection before the following meeting due on 6 November which was to be an ‘open meeting’.

Mothers of the Parish intending to send their children to the new school were up in arms and naturally were in strong favour of the school. Two mothers from Collaroy Plateau in particular, Jenny Oates (nee de Brabander) who later became the school Secretary from 1973 to 1984 and Barbara Cansdell (nee Malcolm), led the charge. Sadly Jenny died on 8 January 1993 and her part of the story went with her.

These two ladies organised a meeting at the Community Centre, with Parishioners M. Boylson, W. Fisher-Cripps, K. Dunn, F. Delsorte and others, to get support and influence the Warringah Shire Councillors. St Rose parishioners were sent letters and were phoned individually, requesting them to attend the meeting and take a vote on the matter. The hall was full and the vote unanimously in favour for the school approval which was reported by the Manly Daily on 1 November 1972. Barbara and Jenny both had children in the first Kindergarten enrolment.

On 6 November 1972 many of the Parents attended the Council meeting and showed their support for the school in numbers and voice. The Council approved the school with certain conditions regarding size and carparking. A colossal win for the faithful. Everything moved quickly and on 22 November the Department Of Education NSW letter was received, confirming advice that a new school to be known as St Rose's Primary School was to commence operation.

At the time the school was being planned, it was intended it to be staffed by Religious Orders. The Order of the Good Samaritan’s wrote in 1971 that they would be happy to staff the school if staff were available from both the Dee Why and Narrabeen Schools. But on 27 April 1972 they again wrote to advise that they could not staff the proposed school after all. Fr Grady immediately decided to staff the school with ‘Lay’ Teachers and provide religious teaching by himself and Catechist’s. This has been a great success. Louise Fergus was employed as the Kindy Teacher and on 30 January 1973 St Rose Primary School opened in the old residence at 8 Rose Ave having had alterations to provide a classroom, teachers room, lunch room and amenities and having 19 students enrolled.

Cardinal Freeman blessed and opened the school on 17 June 1973 which was recorded by ABC Television and shown that night. A copy of the film was presented to the Parish.

Bishop Muldoon and Fr Grady Blessing the school after the
completion of the 2nd storey addition in 1976

The first enrolments for Kindy 1973 were;-

  • Deborah Ashton, Tania Brandt, Simon Cameron, Bronwyn Cansdell, Anne Castle,

  • Shannon Davoren, Mark Green, Donna Elliott, David Flannery, Sean Flannery,

  • Stephen Grady, Catherine Knights, Joanna Limbrick, Stephen Mak, Joslyn Martin,

  • Cordelia Oates, Darren Pitt, Louise Robison & Matthew Walford.

Builder Kevin Dunn provided the following comment regarding the school approval:-

“Maurie Boylson and Kevin Dunn met with a senior Warringah Shire councillor in his office @ Forestville Shopping Centre to further the application. On a 2nd occasion, the architect, Adrian Hickey and Kevin Dunn met with councillors @ WSC rooms Brookvale successfully satisfying Council objections to traffic flow issues on the site. Fr Grady had obtained permission to construct a driveway over the vacant block on Veterans Parade, 4th block from the corner. This access was used until the owners eventually built.”

Barbara Cansdell wrote the following of the struggle to get the school approved:-

“What I remember is the following: 

Jeanette Oates came to see me and said it appeared that Warringah Shire Council looked like they were not going to pass a proposal for the School at the Plateau. It was coming to a council meeting shortly. The local councillor was against it. Jeanette and I went to that Council Meeting and sure enough he spoke very strongly against it. I am vague as to how it was coming back to another meeting. 

 So, I said to Jeanette, we need the names of all the Parents who have children basically booked in for when it is built. So she went off to see Fr. Grady to obtain those names and phone numbers to enable us to contact them. The next thing I remember is Fr. Grady walking up the front path. He came in and I explained  to him why I needed them - to lobby all the other Councillors by phone calls and writing letters to them c\o of the council's office, at Brookvale in those days. So that action occurred. Plus we wanted as many of the parents as possible to attend the next Council Meeting at when it would be discussed again. (this is where my memory falters as I don't remember why it would come back again so soon!).

The parents did a great job of phoning and writing to the other councillors as I realised from what I heard and saw that day the ”Local - SO CALLED CR." would not change his mind . He raved on about lack of car parking on site, no street carparking because of the public school across the road

(wasn't attacking State Govt. for not supplying their own).

He also made some comments of what would be regarded these days as very biased against Religious and Private Schools - can't remember exactly the words but it brought a gasp from the gallery.  Some of the other Cr’s. spoke for it but wanted conditions on it -- as to size of School - size of Church. The main condition was the size - pre-school to grade 2 due to the size of the land on which it was to be built. Just remembered the sewer !!  'the  CR.' said it would not be able to be connected to the School . Being a plumber’s wife I nearly fell of the seat in Chambers - laughing. The main sewer line was being laid all over the Plateau at that time for connection to the homes.

And then the vote was taken and WE WON. WOW! Cannot remember the numbers but it was a good majority of the Councillors.

That was the start of everything else that has followed; I guess.”


Kevin Dunn provided another comment regarding the staging:-

           It was decided within the working group of 3, Fr Grady, the architect, and builder, to construct the whole school in 3 stages.  Stage 1, ground floor- two classrooms with a folding dividing wall (giving potential for 3 rooms), and amenities on the ground floor. Stage 2, first floor – another 4 classrooms and 2 stairwells.  Stage 3, ground floor separate building - tuckshop, store room, office and meeting room.

This sequence of construction, spread over a few years, allowed for Stages 2 and 3 to be built as the need arose, with minimal disruption to existing classes, and at a considerable saving in overall costs.

The ceiling of the ground floor was in essence, the underside of the 1st floor concrete slab. In this way, the first floor would be in place when Stage 2 was given the ‘go ahead’. To keep the ground floor area waterproof, roof trusses and tiles were assembled sitting on the 1st floor concrete slab to be later removed and reassembled when the 1st floor walls and windows were completed.  The 2 stairwells were added at this point.”


Kevin Dunn tendered for and constructed the school, with the first stage consisting of K, 1 & 2 Classrooms and the Amenities. Construction of these permanent classrooms were commenced and completed for use at the commencement of School in February 1974.

At around the same time, mothers of the children were asked for opinions as to the School Uniform, this brought a very mixed response. A consensus was reached and conveyed to Fr Grady for making the final decision.

On 6 December 1972 Fr Grady obtained agreement with B & W Berry of 7 Lantana Ave, for a stormwater easement to install pipework from the School and Church grounds. Both of these properties adjoined at the rear of the School property. An agreement was made on 19 October 1972 to purchase land adjoining 8 Rose Ave at 11 Lantana Ave from B & W Maloney for use as a school playground. The stormwater was completed by the end of July 1975, with the playground then bitumen paved and fenced.

On 30 July 1975 an application for construction of the School Stage 2 classrooms, for 3rd 4th, 5th & 6th Classes, was made and approval received. Kevin Dunn had the school operational for commencement for the 1976 school year.

During the 1976 school year Cardinal Freeman blessed and opened the whole Primary School which now catered for Kindergarten and Years 1 to 6.

An application for construction of an Administration Block was submitted on 31 March 1977, which was approved and again built by Kevin Dunn for use in 1978. This consisted of a Tuckshop, Store, Duplicating room, Staff & General Purpose Rooms and conversion of the old Cottage with enclosed Verandah to a Library, Principals Office, Secretaries Office and a General Purpose Office. A Basketball Court and Playground was later developed on the south of the school building.

On 10 October 1980 Mr & Mrs McCourt of 7 Lantana Ave – once owned by the Berry’s -, a property adjoining the rear of 4 Rose Ave, offered to sell a portion of land 60' x 54' adjoining the School consisting of an area of 371.83m2. This was accepted and with the land previously purchased made a far bigger playground.

Stormwater drainage has caused huge problems for the school and a further easement was negotiated with owners of properties in Lantana Ave from Nos.11 to 17 then out to the Council stormwater system in Lantana Avenue. Underground pipework was also installed from the eastern side of the church, through the school yard and connected to the new stormwater. This work was carried out by local drainage contractors and volunteers from the Parish. The work included digging up what had previously been installed and providing new trenches and pits for the new work. The stormwater was fully re-designed and constructed between March 1983 and February 1985, mostly caused by run-off from the adjoining Veterans Pde properties and sand erosion into pits. Stormwater management over the years has been an expensive cost for the Parish.

The old cottage which was used for the first Kindergarten Classroom in 1973 was demolished to allow for extended alterations and additions for a new Administration Block, Library, classroom and refurbishment of all classrooms in 2003. The toilet block was also refurbished in 2006.

An elevated Multipurpose Function Hall was constructed in 2010 over the south east area of the playground, containing a large function room with stage, kitchen, amenities, store, and provides an undercover assembly area.

First Kindergarten Class 1973 - photo taken in front of the St Rose Church – Fr Norman Grady at left, Louise Fergus at right Barbara Cansdell at rear with red hair wearing blue top, her fighting partner Jenny Oates took the photo. Bronwyn Cansdell in dress with the big polka dots, blond girl 3 to right is Cordelia Oates, blond girl on right is Donna Elliott, next is Shannon Daveron, tall blond boy at rear right is Stephen Mak, two blond boys to left of Bronwyn (one obscured) are David & Sean Flannery – two are out of the photo on right.

Barbara at rear with that mop of red hair; a significant fighter who in later life become a member for many years of Local Government for the Queensland Sunshine Coast.

This photo shows 2 missing children on right against the glass windows

Next two Pictures Below:

First Communion 1973 Class of St Rose Parish Male & Female attending St Josephs & St Kevins Primary Schools, together with Cromer, Collaroy Plateau & Wheeler Heights State Primary Schools.

Next Picture:
First Communion 1976 with St Rose, Cromer, Collaroy Plateau &
Wheeler Heights State Primary School pupils.


2nd Kindy 1974

Year 1& 2 1975
Including 1973
First Kindy Class

1975 Class Names:-

Top Row L-R

Merideth Malady (Y1), Donna Elliott, Karen Brodie,
Terese Vaccaro, Jocelyn Martin, Lisa Agnew,
Deborah Ashton, Cordelia Oates, Catherine Knights (all Y2).

Middle Row –

Sean Sullivan (Y1), Mark Green, Sean or David Flannery, Darren Pitt, Steve Mak, Matthew Walford, Sean or David Flannery (all Y2), Matthew Berger ? (Y1).

Front Row –

Pamela Kenny, Lisa Brown, Christine Jones, (all Y1),
Shannon Daveron, Miss Judy McDonnell,
Joanne Limbrick, (all Y2), Josephine Landers, (Y1),
Jennifer Aarts (Y2), Katie ? (Y1).


Primary School Before Construction of multi-purpose hall

Primary School 2011 showing multi-purpose hall

St Rose School has always prided itself on the quality and personality of its Teaching staff starting with the Schools Principals;-

1972 – 1979 Mrs Louise Fergus (1st Teacher)

1974 – 1974 Miss Norma Kelly (Acting Principal)

1975 – 1981 Miss Judy McDonnell (1st appointed Principal)

1982 – 1988 Miss Julie Cunneen

1989 – 1994 Mr Peter Raffety

1995 – 2005 Miss Alison Brent

2006 – Mrs Josie Vescio (current 2013)