St Joseph's Primary School History

From an early age Catholic Education has been an important part of the development of Warrnambool. At Bishop Gould’s initiative the first Catholic school was commenced in 1851 with Mr Thomas Meagher as Principal. This original St. Joseph’s Primary School was on the site of the corner of Kelp and Timor Streets.

In 1872, the Sisters of Mercy arrived to provide education for girls in the district opening a day and boarding school at the convent of Mercy, “Wyton”, Warrnambool. As well as the day and boarding school for girls, the sisters were to staff St. Joseph’s Primary School.  The boys continued to be educated by lay teachers. Due to the increasing number of children, Bishop O’Connor (Diocese of Ballarat) opened an extension to the original school building in 1877.

By 1902, the Christian brothers arrived to support the education of boys within the Warrnambool area and established St. Mary’s High School in the Russell’s Creek area. Within the next ten years the Christian brothers relocated their College to the present day Emmanuel College site in Canterbury Road, Warrnambool.

In 1935, St. Joseph’s Primary School commenced on the Lava Street site.  It was officially opened on 15 March of that year. The principal at that time was Sister Mary Berchmans O’Callaghan of the Sisters of Mercy. Within ten years of the development of the Lava Street site there was a need for further expansion due to increased enrolments. Three more classrooms were made available by the conversion of neighbouring houses between the church and the school.

Monsignor O’Connell spoke at the opening of the new extensions in 1964 and concluded by saying “there was a need for further extensions the following year.” This did not happen because primary schools in the east and west of Warrnambool were built to ease the pressure of enrolments.

In 1981, the Christian Brothers ceased providing primary education at the Christian Brothers College which further increased enrolment pressure at the Lava Street site. In the latter part of 1981 an advisory planning committee was formed to investigate the future development of primary education in St. Joseph’s Parish.  This committee made an application to the then State Rivers and Water Supply Commission to see if a school could be built on the Botanic Road site. Permission was received in April, 1982.

In October, 1982 the advisory committee recommended to Father Bohan that the Botanic Road site be purchased and that a new school be built. The construction of St. Joseph’s Primary School on its current site began in December of 1984. The last principal, Sister Monique Nyland, affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy, saw completion of the school in 1985. St. Joseph’s Primary School commenced in 1986 at the current site with a lay principal, Mr Phillip Sherry.

Since that time extensions and refurbishments in 1990, 1994 and 1996, have attempted to accommodate the needs of an increasing enrolment. In 1998 a major building program took place and saw the extension of nine classrooms and the construction of five new classrooms, a multi-purpose room, toilet block and an update of the library computer network.  This refurbishment was initiated by the then principal Mr Gerard Barake and completed by the current principal Mr Michael Gray. The Vicar General Fr. William Van de Camp officially blessed the refurbishment.

In 2002, after two years of planning and consultation, the St. Joseph’s Primary School Board ratified a School Master Plan for the site based on an enrolment ceiling of 525 students with a variance of up to ten students depending on Catholic family needs in the parish. In 2004 Stage 1 refurbishment was undertaken. This included the extension of the school library, development of new staff facilities and construction of a new administration centre.  The Stage 1 project value was $600 000. Funding for the project was made available by the Australian Government, St. Joseph’s Parish and the school community.

In 2005, Stage Two of the School Master plan was completed. This included the building of two reading recovery rooms, small group work areas, support staff work areas and a Wellbeing office. The project value was $120,000. Student records were centralized and upgraded as part of this project.

In 2006, Stage Three of the master Plan was completed.  This stage saw the construction of a new art room and development of a performing arts classroom. This project was funded by St. Joseph's Primary School Building Fund and St. Joseph’s Parish. The total costs of works, including painting of the two small Multi-Purpose Areas, was $200,000. During this period four portable classrooms were also added, this was funded by the Catholic Education Office, Ballarat and the St. Joseph’s Primary School.

In 2009, Stage Four of the master plan saw a new senior area constructed consisting of 6 classrooms costing $1,000.000 as part of the Building the Education Revolution (B.E.R.) funding from the Federal government.  Part of this funding also included upgrades to the playgrounds and a permanent bike shelter for students.

In 2011, the school opened a new multipurpose hall.  This facility was also funded by the Federal Government’s Building Education Revolution (B.E.R.) scheme. The multipurpose hall comprises of sporting facilities, drama room and stage areas (Value $2 million). Warrnambool’s wider community benefited from the construction of this facility as groups within Warrnambool access it outside of school hours. In 2013, increased student numbers required another full-time classroom. The Van Rooy multipurpose area was converted into three new rooms; a classroom and two meeting rooms.  Major works were also completed on the Allen Oval, resurfacing of the oval provided for level playing fields and improved drainage. Car parking facilities were increased in size and rear sealed access to the school completed.

In 2015, increased student numbers required another full time classroom. Information Technology resources were integrated with the Library Resource Centre and classrooms.

In 2016, to accommodate growing numbers of students and services, two more portable classrooms were added. In 2017, they were used as an Arts/Drama Centre.

In 2020, the school introduced another two more portable classrooms to assist in transitioning to straight year levels.

Today St. Joseph’s is a vibrant contemporary educational community with 595 students in an ever growing regional centre.

St. Joseph’s Primary School Sign

St. Joseph’s Primary School sign depicts an outline of the figure of Joseph, our school and parish patron. The sign has Mary and the child Jesus in the shape of a cross, the symbol of Christianity.   St. Joseph’s Primary School Community chose this design to also include the imagery of family, a value central to our school community. The colours are in keeping with the traditional St. Joseph’s Primary School colours, blue and yellow.

St. Joseph’s Primary School Crest

"Omnia Pro Deo” - All for God

St. Joseph’s Primary School crest encompasses all that we hold dear in our Vision and Mission as a Catholic Community.

In particular, we as teachers will follow this motto as we strive to give Christian witness and to foster in the students a love for all they do.  To kindle in them a desire to learn for themselves by providing them with experiences, understandings, concepts and skills.