James Ruse Agricultural High School
Located at James Ruse Agricultural High School, this house was built for the Felton family in 1885 on their farming property; pictured in 1999.

Coordinates33°46′52″S 151°2′31″E / 33.78111°S 151.04194°E / -33.78111; 151.04194
Other nameRuse, JR
TypeGovernment-funded co-educational academically selective and specialist secondary day school
MottoLatin: Gesta Non Verba
(Deeds not words)
Established1959; 64 years ago (1959)
Educational authorityNSW Department of Education
SpecialistAgricultural school
PrincipalRachel Powell
Enrolmentc. 835
Colour(s)Bottle green, Gold   

James Ruse Agricultural High School (colloquially known as Ruse or JR) is a government-funded co-educational academically selective and specialist secondary day school, located in the Sydney suburb of Carlingford, New South Wales, Australia, once known for being the highest academically ranked high school in Australia. The school is also one of four New South Wales Government agricultural high schools.

The school is especially noted for its academic excellence, having ranked 1st out of all New South Wales high schools in for 32 consecutive years since 1991, as well as 1st in the national government NAPLAN tests across Australia since their establishment. However in 2023, they ranked 2nd academically, though it is still high in repute. [1][2][3][4]

There are approximately 835 students enrolled at James Ruse in Year 7 through to Year 12. James Ruse is an academically selective high school; admission to James Ruse in Year 7 is only through the Selective High Schools Test, which is open to all Year 6 NSW students. A small number of students from other high schools are accepted in Year 9, 10 and 11, through application made directly to the school. In 2019, approximately 97% of the student population came from a language background other than English.[5]


In 1949 the main part of the school grounds was purchased by the NSW Government for the purpose of agricultural education.[6] The school that commenced on this site in 1956 was an annexe of Carlingford District Rural School with Charles Mullavey as the Master in Charge. At that time the school consisted of a wooden five room classroom block, a small staff-room and ablution facilities. By the start of 1958 the school was independent of Carlingford District Rural School and was called the "Carlingford Junior Agricultural High School" (reflecting that students could only undertake the first three years of secondary education at the school).

In 1959 the name of the school was changed to "Carlingford Agricultural High School" (to reflect its new full high school status – although there were no actual Fourth and Fifth Year classes at that time). The first Headmaster, James C. Hoskin, and his Deputy Headmaster, Charles Mullavey, commenced duties at the start of that year and in April, the name of the school changed again - this time to "James Ruse Agricultural High School".

When James Hoskin was studying Agriculture at University, he had become interested in James Ruse due to his significance in the early development of agriculture in Australia, and also because "both Ruse and I [Hoskin] are of Cornish extraction".[7][full citation needed] Hoskin questioned the name of the school (Carlingford Agricultural High School) as the school was not serving just the Carlingford area. In April 1959, Hoskin put forward a proposal to the NSW Department of Education outlining two new names for the school: Sydney Agricultural High School and Ruse Agricultural High School; eventually, the Department agreed to a modification of the latter. The school was named to honour prominent late farmer James Ruse.

Hoskin soon became synonymous with the school, as he served as headmaster until his retirement aged 65 in 1978. During this time, the school became established as one of the few public schools that were selective; initially because of its agricultural speciality, then for its reputation as a quality school. For his efforts, Hoskin was awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and the Order of Australia for Services to Education in 1990.

The first group of students to complete the full five years of secondary education at the new high school sat for the Leaving Certificate in 1961. Most of these boys were part of the initial enrolment of 1st Year pupils at the Felton Rd. site, in 1957. James Ruse AHS was originally a boys only school, but gradually became co-educational after an initial intake of 24 female students into Year 11 in 1977.

Since the mid-1990s, James Ruse has undergone an extensive building works program funded by both parents of students and the State and Federal Governments. 1997 saw the completion of Stage 1 of this program (encompassing a new Library block and English classrooms which replaced the old Anderson building, a new block containing Art and HSIE classrooms, the integration of the existing Powe block and the former library into a science block, and the installation of an elevator in the Perrau block to improve wheelchair accessibility).

In 2000, Stage 2 of the program began with the first building (a 180-seat lecture theatre) completed in early 2001. The Schofield block became part of the program in 2002 after the building was damaged by fires. During the next two years the old Technology Block and the Francis block were demolished due to a white ant infestation, with both blocks being rebuilt and refurnished in 2004. The final stage of the works were underway at the time of the departure of Principal Michael Quinlan, who retired in 2006 after having been Principal since 1992.[8] These developments (including a new music block) continued with the guidance of the new principal, Larissa Treskin.

In early 2020, the Powe Science block opened after extensive renovations.


The following individuals have served as Principal of James Ruse Agricultural High School:

Ordinal Officeholder Term start Term end Time in office Notes
1 James C. Hoskin 1959 1978 18–19 years [9]
2 A.J. Gilmour 1979 1982 2–3 years
3 Andrew Watson 1982 1988 5–6 years
4 Edward (Ted) Clarke 1989 1991 1–2 years
5 Michael Quinlan 1992 2006 13–14 years [8]
6 Larissa Treskin 2007 2012 4–5 years
7 Megan Connors 2013 2018 4–5 years
8 Rachel Powell 2019 incumbent 3–4 years

Academic results

James Ruse Agricultural High School is noted for its outstanding academic achievements as well as a near perfect record of all students gaining university admission, with many JR alumni forging prominent careers in science, engineering, medicine, law, commerce, and academia.

As of 2023, James Ruse Agricultural High School is ranked 2nd out of all New South Wales secondary schools based on academic results.[10]

The school had outperformed every high school in New South Wales for the past 27 years in public university entrance exams,[11] known in the state as the Higher School Certificate, with a median Universities Admission Index (UAI) of 99.55 in 2004, and 99.20 in 2005 and 2006.[12][13][14]

Extracurricular activities

[15] James Ruse Agricultural High School can be noted for its strong participation in extracurricular and competitive activities,[16] as listed below. In addition, the school has a high level of participation in volunteering and fundraising activities, including World's Greatest Shave and the 40 Hour Famine, and is closely linked with Interact and Amnesty International. Many students have received awards for outstanding participation in community service.[17]


The school also holds annual sporting carnivals, including the Swimming, Cross-Country and Athletics Carnivals, where students can compete for participation in wider regional competitions, from Zone and Area carnivals to the CHS (Combined High Schools) competition for the top school teams and competitors in NSW.[18] James Ruse participates in a variety of tournaments and competitions with schools in surrounding areas. These include the following activities.

There are also many competitive sporting teams, where students compete against other schools in the area, state, or country. Some teams have had the opportunity to compete against sporting teams from overseas.[19]

James Ruse Agricultural High School Army Cadet Unit (JRAHSACU)

The cadet unit at James Ruse AHS was established in 1961,[22] and is the largest extra-curricular activity offered at the school. With close to half the students in the school participating, JRAHSACU is one of the largest government school units in Australia. The unit conducts a field expedition (bivouac) every term, with a strong emphasis on navigation, radio telecommunication and hiking. A week-long unit-held Annual Adventurous Activity offers cadets an intense and exotic hiking adventure around Australia. Previous locations included the Cape to Cape Walk, WA; Mt Kosciusko; Kangaroo Island; New Zealand.

The unit conducts lessons within specialist courses developed by the Training Officer and Cell, where cadets are organised in platoons according to their elective course of choice. Theory lessons are often taught by the section commander, or platoon sergeant at a section level, and Drill lessons are often covered by individual company sergeant majors within company level. In the unit's independently designed specialist training program, cadets become proficient in:

The unit is a part of the 94th Battalion of the NSW 2nd AAC Brigade, and consists of four companies (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta), with around three platoons each. Each platoon, led by a platoon sergeant, typically consists of around three sections under the command of a section commander and a second in charge. The current strength of the unit is around 300. The unit currently has a Senior Command of 7 senior cadets, whom possess the rank of Cadet Under Officer (CUO), and a Regimental Sergeant Major holding the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1. The senior command consist of Company Commanders (one for each company), an Administration Officer, a Logistics Officer and a Training Officer, each role overseeing their respective cells in the unit, as well as organising and planning activities.

Throughout its history, the JRAHSACU has been actively involved in community events, including Hyde Park Memorial Parade, RSL Services, services at local primary schools, and parades in the city. JRAHSACU was awarded the high honour of parading the Duke of Edinburgh's Banner in 2011. The unit participates in annual field exercises held to battalion or brigade (statewide) levels, and has many cadets participate in the annual national Adventure Training Award. An enthusiasm for Cadets continues to exist at rising levels, and the unit has been awarded with numerous formal commendations, unit medals, and Unit Efficiency awards. In 2022, JRAHSACU was featured as the Guard of Honour at the Sydney Hyde Park War Memorial in the online ANZAC service video, made in lieu of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which was released to units and communities around New South Wales. In 2023, JRAHSACU was featured as the Guard of Honour at the Department of Education's ANZAC Day Service, and was selected as part of the Royal Guard of Honour of the first in seventy years, King's Birthday Parade for the Governor of New South Wales at Government House, Sydney.

Music activities

The following ensembles offer musical training, and some groups perform at both school and public assemblies. Larger ensembles tour NSW annually to perform throughout the state.


Performing arts and visual arts

Public competitions and other student groups


Welfare programs

Student Representative Council (SRC)

The school's Student Representative Council was inaugurated in 1960, making it among the first high schools in New South Wales to have such a body.[29] Each year, each roll class elects a Class Captain and Vice-Captain who represent it on the SRC. Larger extracurricular organisations are also entitled to a representative. The SRC as a whole elect a student executive, which consists of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Minutes Secretary, by a system first inaugurated in 1990. Through the SRC, students have some representation on the school steering committees (along with parents and staff), and also play a minor role in decision-making processes relating to curriculum, building plans, and resource allocation. This group is led by five, year 11 student executives.

The council is elected through a first-past-the-post voting system, with a voting card for male and female respectively. This replaced the instant runoff system, which caused gender imbalances in representation. Year Advisors and the school's teacher executives have final oversight over the representatives in this body, and have the power to veto any candidate without their knowledge, giving the position to the candidate with the next highest number of votes.


The school teaches agriculture as a compulsory subject from years 7 to 10. Formerly it was also compulsory in Year 11 (with students taking an accelerated version of the HSC course to allow completion within one year). However, following the introduction of a new HSC curriculum by the Board of Studies in 2001, the school made Year 11 optional (with the decision supported by a survey among students).[30] Agriculture is a significant part of the school's curriculum, with students undergoing study of the subject both on and off-site, where students study and visit agricultural enterprises both in the Greater Sydney region, with visits to regional horticultural farming enterprises such as the Sydney Royal Easter Show and farms in Bathurst and in Gloucester. There is also great involvement in with other agricultural schools, with the school linked with Yanco Agricultural High School, and previous Head Teacher of Agriculture, Lisle Brown, being the co-author of the Dynamic Agriculture textbook series, which is extensively used in agriculture in Australian schools.[31][32]

The school leases approximately ten hectares of land from the neighbouring electricity sub-station for use in practical agriculture lessons. The farm land is situated north of the general school buildings, extending north to Lynch Close and east to Jenkins Road. The farm is arranged to include a vegetable garden, a classroom, a glasshouse and nursery, a greenhouse, an orchard, experimental plots, an area for field crops and a livestock section, among others. It also contains some riparian land which is currently being monitored and undergoing rehabilitation to its native state by the Streamwatch group (currently working as part of Sydney Water Streamwatch).[33][34][35]

A significant amount of the farm land is set aside for student plots. Part of practical agriculture lessons involves students growing and maintaining their own crops, and a practical mark worth 10% of their yearly mark is awarded at the end of term. Mature crops in the students' assigned plots of land are then the students' to take home. In addition to its use for educational purposes, the farm also supplies a wide variety of agricultural produce including: Cattle - Angus stud, paraded annually at the Castle Hill Show by the Cattle Group, and sold at Camden Sales yard; Sheep - First-cross Ewes & Prime Lambs; Eggs - Free-range eggs; Poultry Meat - Broilers raised and sold onsite, Oranges - Washington Navel; Peaches - Flordagold and Sherman's Red varieties; Sweet Corn - Shimmer variety; James Ruse Gold Rose - A privately crossbred rose variety the rights were donated to the school in 1999 in celebration of its 40 years of teaching; ApiaryHoney sold on-site in jars; and Macadamia Nuts. Various groups of students have been set up to look after these, such as the Poultry Squad and a Weather Watcher group to maintain farm records. In the past, the farm also housed Merino-Border Leicester sheep, named the Sharlea Sheep. It was replaced by the Aquaculture venture, silver perch and a crayfish growing system. Now some students also participate in making peach jam and sorbet after the peach harvest.[36]


The school is situated in Carlingford, a suburb of north-western Sydney. Its main entrance is located on the southwest corner of the school, with a number of smaller entrances on its southern and western boundaries. The campus is built around a main quadrangle, another cluster of buildings around a smaller quadrangle, with an oval, sporting facilities and the farm to the north of these.

Barrengarry House

Barrengarry House, the school's main administration block is located near the southwest entrance of the school, adjoining the Senior Common Room and the Library and housing the offices of the principal, deputy principals, head teacher of administration and the administration staff on the lower floor, and the counsellor's office, uniform shop and function rooms on the upper floor. It was originally the home and property of the Felton family, and was built in 1885, with the architect thought to have been Charles Slatyer.[37] The block adjoins a roadway of the same name, both of which are named after the Feltons' estate.

J.C. Hoskin Auditorium

More commonly known as the "school hall", the J.C. Hoskin Auditorium, named after the school's founding principal (see history above), is used as a multi-purpose facility. Along with holding important school assemblies, concerts and the school musical, the hall is also used for examinations (primarily government and senior exams) and it was used for PE classes in the past—this function was largely removed with the construction of the school's new gymnasium in 2017. Ceremonies which celebrate the school's highest achievers are also held annually in the Auditorium.

Library Block

The Library Block (or "L-Block") was built in 1997 and opened by then NSW Premier Bob Carr as part of the school's building works program, to provide a larger, and more modern and well-equipped library to replace the smaller Shearman Block (now the school's Music block). The block is a two-storey building, with the library occupying the top floor and English classrooms and offices on the bottom floor.

Technology Block

The Technology Block (or "T-Block") is a recent addition to the school campus along with the new Canteen Block, with construction finished in 2005. The wing is a two-storey building with a mix of classrooms, workshops and modern computer labs, and overlooks the gymnasium on its northern side. To its south is the Art Block.

Art Block

The Art Block (or "A-Block") is a two storey facility that contains a 5 classrooms. On the lower floor resides the Creative and Performing Arts staffroom, two art classrooms and an art storage room with kilns and other art supplies. On the upper floor are 3 classrooms that are usually used for HSIE lessons such as History, Geography, Commerce and Economics. Due to the sloped nature of the campus, the upper floor adjoins to the first floor of Cameron Block and the lower floor adjoins to the upper floor of the Technology Block.

Cameron Block

The Cameron Block (or "C-Block") is a three-storey building with a variety of classrooms, science labs, computer rooms and lockers. The second floor is primarily used for Mathematics lessons, and the Mathematics Staffroom is located on the second floor accordingly. On the first floor, rooms C1.1 and C1.2 are science labs, whilst C1.4 and C1.5 are primarily used for HSIE lessons. There is also a Drama Room (C1.3) which contains a stage, as well as a hobbit hole with costumes and other drama-related objects. The topic of Multiple-Disciplinary Communications (MDC) was also formerly taught within the drama room. The HSIE/LOTE staffroom is located between C1.5 and C1.4. The cadets Q-Store is hosted in the exterior of the block.

Powe Block

The Powe Block (or "P-Block") is a two-storey building connecting L-Block and C-Block which houses most (but not all) of the school's laboratories. It has 5 classrooms. Most science lessons are held in this building and the science faculty staff room is located on the first floor. Its second storey was constructed in 2012.


W-block is a set of 4 separate single-storey buildings. One building contains W1.1 (science lab) and W1.2 (classroom). W1.3 is a band room. W1.4 is partitioned into 5-6 music rooms and one larger classroom. The W-block building nearest to the quadrangle houses several classrooms, and the English Staffroom.


F-Block is a single storey building with two adjoining rooms that houses agriculture lessons. The farm manager utilises this block. It is located on the farm besides the tool shed and behind the basketball courts, and overlooks the peach/orange orchard.

Bishop Block

Bishop Block is named after John Bishop. It is a 2 storey building adjacent to the canteen sails. The bottom floor is used as a sports equipment storeroom and the second floor is a single classroom often used for Latin or Japanese classes.


The JRAHS Gymnasium began construction in late 2016 and opened in 2017. It is the furthest block from Barrengarry House with the exception of the F Block. The Gymnasium currently plays hosts to a majority of Physical Education classes, and can be altered to play volleyball, netball, basketball or futsal. During exam periods, the facility can be converted into an additional exam hall to supplement the J.C. Hoskin Auditorium.

Notable alumni

This article's list of alumni may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Please improve this article by removing names that do not have independent reliable sources showing they merit inclusion in this article AND are alumni, or by incorporating the relevant publications into the body of the article through appropriate citations. (February 2019)

Business, science, and public service

Entertainment and the arts




See also


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