Queenwood was founded in 1925 in a large Victorian house on the sloping hills of Balmoral, with an initial enrolment of just five pupils. The school grew quickly and the two founders, Miss Grace Lawrance and Miss Beatrice Rennie, took on more staff including Miss Violet Medway in 1928. The school was led by some combination of these three remarkable women for the next 57 years.
The Misses Lawrance, Rennie and Medway were determined that their girls should be provided with the same quality of education that was provided for boys, and they believed equally strongly that high academic endeavour must be placed within a balanced program of participation and contribution in a wide range of activities. Reflecting their own diversity of faith, Queenwood was established from its inception as a non-denominational Christian school with an ethos of inclusion, rejecting the sharp sectarian divisions in Australia at the time.
Over the years the original buildings at 47 Mandolong Road have been replaced, and today the original site features attractive, modern facilities. A second site at 44 Mandolong Road was acquired in the 1960s, housing additional classrooms and then the Junior School until it moved to its current site in Queen Street, Mosman in 1990. A newly constructed pool, sports facilities, science laboratories and classrooms were opened at 44 Mandolong Road in 2010 and the Arts Precinct, housing classrooms for the Visual Arts, Technology, Textiles and ICT, is on its own site a short walk away at the edge of beautiful Balmoral Beach.
The significance of the School’s motto, Per Aspera ad Astra (‘Through Struggles to the Stars’), was explained by Miss Rennie:
‘Per Aspera’ precedes ‘ad Astra’ and so it is that strength and courage are necessary, for the highest and best are not attained without struggle… There is so much that needs reforming in the world today, so many wrongs to be righted, so many poor and sick to be tended, so many weak to be protected. Are not these high adventures which call for women of strength and courage and purpose?
That sense of purpose, the willingness to engage with challenge and the desire to make a contribution remain at the heart of Queenwood’s mission.
Today Queenwood is a school of around 900 pupils from Kindergarten upwards, offering rich academic programs culminating in pathways to the HSC or International Baccalaureate in Year 12. Just as its founders intended, it offers a contemporary liberal education with the same objective of developing girls into women with the intellectual rigour, independence, character and skills to contribute sustainably to society.
Miss Grace Lawrance, 1925 – 1930
Miss Beatrice Rennie, 1931 – 1962
Miss Violet Medway, 1942 – 1982
Mrs Alison Stalley, 1982 – 1987
Mrs Judith Wheeldon, 1987 – 1996
Mrs Kem Bray, 1996 – 2008
Mr James Harper, 2008 – 2013
Ms Elizabeth Stone, 2014 – present
Header Photograph of original school building with students on front lawns, used by permission of Ms J N Harrison, on behalf of the estate of Mrs Margaret Harrison. Photographer Everingham Photo, Mosman. All rights reserved by J. Harrison.
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