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Our Story

Perth College Story

Our History

Perth College has drawn on more than 120 years of experience and knowledge to create a learning environment that enables girls to become remarkable women and make their mark on history.

Perth College is one of the oldest independent girls’ schools in Western Australia, and one of many schools founded worldwide by the Community of the Sisters of the Church, an Anglican religious order established in 1870. From its original site in West Perth in 1902, Perth College grew rapidly and moved during 1916 to its current location in Mount Lawley.

From the very beginning, Perth College was determined to do things differently. The Sisters’ vision for what women could do challenged the accepted ideas at the time. From this, a strong belief system was born: that women should work hard to make the most of their opportunities and use these advantages to make a difference.

Perth College has continued to go from strength to strength over many generations. Today, Perth College boasts a student population exceeding 1,000 girls, including over 100 boarders from regional WA and overseas. Recently, the School has added a number of landmark projects including the purpose-built Founders Centre for Early Learning (Kindergarten to Year 4) and Excelsior House, a facility for Year 12 Students that prepares girls for university and life outside school.

More than 13,000 students have been educated at Perth College since 1902. While much has changed since then, the determination of our girls has never wavered.

Learn more about our history and important milestones by viewing our Perth College 120 Year Timeline.

Our Story

In the late nineteenth century in England, a young woman named Emily Ayckbowm had a vision for ‘higher education.’

Not higher education as we often hear the phrase today – when it’s used to define a stage of academic achievement – but rather an ideal of what education should be.

As the founder of the Sisters of the Church, Sister Emily pledged to devote her life to this educational ideal and to the creation of opportunity for young people.

When Sisters Vera, Rosalie and Susannah of her Order founded Perth College in 1902, they set out to give their first pupils all the tools they would need to navigate uncertain waters.

In 1916, their prospectus stated the aim that their pupils ‘may not merely gain distinction in examination lists, but also be fitted to gain distinction in the greater business of life.’

In the early twentieth century, when female voting rights had only recently been granted in Australia, and much employment remained off-limits for women, the ambition for Perth College students to carve out careers and shape the nation was little short of revolutionary.

Through two world wars and now two global pandemics, through recessions, depressions and times of plenty, through great social and technological change, the world did open up to women, and generations of Perth College students have grasped their opportunity.

Meanwhile, we continue to chart the founding Sisters’ course. We remain committed to academic excellence, but we balance that with skills of self-awareness, communication, initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship.

At Perth College today, we actively encourage freedom through frameworks like InsideOut and sparc that are timetabled and given equal weight to core subjects.

We prepare our students to take on jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies not yet invented, and to solve problems not yet anticipated.

This is what Sister Emily meant by ‘higher education’ – education that invites the spirit in every child to reach for the highest places and provides them with the tools they need to reach their destination.

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We give students the freedom to discover themselves.

Freedom to explore their passions.

Freedom to know their own potential.

Freedom to ask the difficult questions.

Freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.

Freedom to stand apart from the crowd.

Freedom to reach heights that previous generations – and maybe even others of their own generation – might have considered impossible.

Because, when we look into a child’s eyes, we don’t see limits.

We see possibility.

We see the bright light of opportunity.

We see what Sister Emily saw.


Set Them Free