Open main menu

Saint Peter's College (officially The Collegiate School of St Peter, but commonly known as SPSC, Sancti Petri Schola Collegiata, St Peter's or Saints) is an independent boys' school in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. Founded in 1847 by members of the Anglican Church of Australia, the school is noted for its history and famous alumni, including three Nobel laureates, forty-two Rhodes scholars and ten Australian State Premiers.

St Peter's College
St Peter's College, Adelaide Logo.svg
SPSC chapel and memorial hall.jpg
Coordinates34°54′49″S 138°37′4″E / 34.91361°S 138.61778°E / -34.91361; 138.61778Coordinates: 34°54′49″S 138°37′4″E / 34.91361°S 138.61778°E / -34.91361; 138.61778
TypeIndependent, day and boarding
MottoPro Deo et Patria
'For God and Country'
Religious affiliation(s)Anglican Church of Australia
Established15 July 1847
HeadmasterTim Browning [1]
ChaplainRev'd Dr Theo McCall
Enrolment1,396 (2017) [2]
CampusHackney, Finniss
Colour(s)     Royal blue and      white
School feesA$25,855 (2017, Year 12)[3]

Three campuses are located on the Hackney Road site near the Adelaide Parklands in Hackney. The Senior School (years 9-12) and Middle School (years 7-8) comprises the bulk of the grounds and most of the historic buildings. To the south of the site are the Preparatory School (years 3-6) and Palm House (reception-year 2). The College also owns an outdoor education campus in Finniss, near Lake Alexandrina. The School is a member of the G20 Schools group.

St Peter's College is a day and boarding school and offers two matriculation streams in secondary education: the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB).

St Peter's College, working with Martin Seligman and Lea Waters, has been instrumental in the development and implementation of positive education programs throughout Australia.[4] The former Headmaster, Simon Murray, was Chairman of the Positive Education Schools Association.


School performanceEdit


In 2016, St. Peter's College ranked equal 4th in South Australia and 332nd nationally for academic achievement (including NAPLAN, ATAR, IBD).[5][6] According to the Year 9 NAPLAN results in 2016, St. Peter's was above average in reading, writing, spelling and grammar and punctuation, and average for numeracy when compared to similar schools. When compared to all Australian schools it was substantially above average in reading, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy, while above average for writing and spelling.[7] The school has 136 teaching staff and 132 non-teaching staff.[8]

In 2010 The Age reported that St Peter's College ranked equal seventh among Australian schools based on the number of alumni who had received a top Order of Australia honour.[9] In 2014 The Australian ranked the school third in South Australia based on overall NAPLAN results, behind girls' schools Wilderness School and St Peter's Collegiate Girls' School. It was ranked 16th in Australia for boys' schools.


Of the 1383 students attending the school in 2016, 72% of students had parents in the top quarter of Australian society in socio-economic terms, while 1% came from the bottom quarter. 1% of students have indigenous heritage, while 8% have a non-English speaking background.[8]


According to the Australian Government's MySchool website, in 2015 St. Peter's recorded a net income of $34.5m, 64% of which came from student fees ($26k from each student), 12% from the Australian Government and 20% from private sources.[10]


An 1875 drawing of the school grounds. Old School House is centre-ground and the chapel is to the right.
The St Peter's College chapel, opened in 1864

The origins of the school lie in the ambition of the early colonists to establish for their sons an institution equivalent to the Public Schools from which they benefited in Great Britain. They founded the Church of England Collegiate School of South Australia, or "The Collegiate School", as a proprietary school on 15 July 1847 in the schoolroom of Trinity Church on North Terrace. The name Sancti Petri Schola Collegiata (SPSC) was given. The school's foundation was followed by the arrival of the first Bishop of Adelaide Augustus Short in December 1847. Short brought with him an endowment of £2,000 from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge with which he was expected establish an institution for the Church of England. He intended to use the Trinity School as the basis for this institution and had his chaplain the Reverend T. P. Wilson appointed as its Head Master. He also purchased the school's current estate in Hackney.[11] A similarly large endowment was contributed by William Allen, who through an early investment in the South Australian Mining Association had become fabulously wealthy.

In 1849, negotiations between Short and the proprietors concluded, and a Council of Governors was established as per their agreement. The school was rededicated as the Collegiate School of St Peter upon incorporation in July 1849. The Latin translation, Sancti Petri Schola Collegiata, is still used as the school acronym, SPSC, although it is often Anglicised to "St Peter's School Collegiate". Wilson, the first head master, resigned in 1851 after a dispute with the school's governors. The second master, Rev. S. P. R. Allom, acted in his place until Rev. Edmund Jenkins arrived in 1853.[12]

The college moved to its present location in 1854, with 70 students, two habitable classrooms and two masters. The Ven. George Henry Farr, M.A., LL.D. (1819–1904) arrived from England in July of that year and served as head master 1854–1879.[13]


Collectable Australian School cigarette card featuring the old St Peter's College colours and crest, c. 1920s

The school's emblem consists of a blue shield with white trim, surmounted by two golden keys and bishop's mitre (contemporary versions place the mitre within rather than above the shield, dissimilating the emblem from that of the Diocese of Gloucester). The keys represent Saint Peter while the mitre represents the school's link to the Anglican Church. Beneath the shield is a scroll with the school's Latin motto "Pro Deo et Patria", which translates into English as "For God and Country".

House systemEdit

Upon entering the Senior School in Year 7, all boys are assigned to a house. There are 10 houses, each named after prominent figures in the school's history.[14] Four of these—Da Costa, Farrell, Hawkes and Short—were the original four houses founded in 1920. To accommodate the growing student population five additional houses were founded: MacDermott, Woodcock, Young, Howard and Farr. There is also a boarding house, School & Allen House, that was established in 2003 through the amalgamation of School House with Wyatt & Allen. Houses meet several times each week, and compete in various intra-school competitions throughout the year. Through sporting, academic, musical, fundraising and other competitions throughout the year, the houses compete for the Sir George Murray Shield.


The Big Quadrangle in the Senior School

The school is situated on 32 hectares of landscaped grounds only 3 kilometres from the Adelaide central business district on Hackney Road and North Terrace in the suburb Hackney. Neighbouring suburbs College Park and St Peters were named after the school. The main campus' facilities include seven ovals, a hockey pitch, ten tennis courts and two swimming pools. It features mostly heritage architecture, such as "Palm House" (built for William Peacock), but also includes modern buildings. The "Big School Room" is thought to be Australia's oldest classroom still in constant use.

The most recent addition to the school has been the extensive redevelopment and extension of the Pentreath Building, featuring new technological state-of-the-art classrooms and wide open corridors with learning in mind. After redevelopment, it became the centre of the Middle Years program, which sees Year Sevens and Eights moving into the Senior School as regular students. The next most recent redevelopment is the Junior School, featuring new classrooms and lecture facilities as well as an observatory. In the Senior School, the Burchnall Sports Centre is also a recent development, which includes two basketball courts, a 25-metre pool, a diving pool, a strength and conditioning room, and café. The school is soon to commence construction of the 'Leadership and Ethics Centre' featuring lecture facilities, a new Year 12 common room and the school's museum.

The College also owns a large outdoor education property in Finniss, situated on several hectares of land on the banks of the River Finniss. The property includes dormitories, teacher accommodation and a gymnasium, and students are involved with the property's revegetation program of native flora.

Panorama of St Peter's College buildings, including Old School House, the Chapel and Memorial Hall
Panorama of the school grounds surrounding the Main Oval. From left: Pentreath building, Old School House, chapel, Memorial Hall, Oval House and sports centre


Junior school campus

A significant source of the school's revenue is the estate of Benjamin Mendes da Costa. Da Costa, a successful Adelaide businessman, bequeathed his estate of £20,000 to the Collegiate School of St Peter when he died in 1868.[11] The bequest was subject to the life interests of ten relations; the last surviving relation died in 1910 and in 1912 the property was vested in the school.[15] A large portion of the estate remains land in prominent city-centre locations. Income generated by the estate is used to subsidise the fees of all students, along with several scholarships and bursaries.

A somewhat common Adelaidean urban myth asserts that the da Costa estate was intended to be given to the Catholic church rather than the Anglican, and that the funds were awarded to Saints after a supposed legal battle. This myth has no basis in fact and most probably stems from misconceptions of da Costa's religion due to his Portuguese family name.[11]

St Peter's College sold Da Costa Arcade, near Rundle Mall, in 2005.[citation needed]

Extracurricular activitiesEdit

Entrance hall of the Burchnall Sports Centre


Each student at St Peter's is required to play both a summer and winter sport.

Cricket on the Main Oval

Staff and past students conduct training sessions. Weekend competitions are held at the school (or at away venues) each weekend against other schools in Adelaide. Many sports have an annual intercollegiate showdown against rivals Prince Alfred College, known as the "Intercol".[16][17] Some intercol events include the Head of the River, Football showdown, Water Polo and Basketball. The Cricket Intercol is one of the oldest continuing cricket matches in the world, having been played annually since 1878.[18]


The school runs an extensive music program which encourages students to study musical instruments and perform in ensembles. These ensembles perform in several concerts throughout the year, both within the school and externally. Groups include a middle-school, intermediate and senior concert band, senior choir, orchestra, string orchestra, Dixieland Band, and three big bands with the senior two formerly named after prominent Australian jazz musicians James Morrison and Don Burrows.

In 2018, the Music Department was moved to the former Languages Centre, next to the Burchnall Sports Centre. This new facility included sound-proofed practice rooms, large rehearsal spaces, and will include a recording studio.

Outdoor educationEdit

The Outdoor Education campus at Finniss is used by students from years 4 to 10 for annual camps, with camps culminating in Year 10 with the 21-day Peak Experience in the Flinders Ranges. In addition, students have the opportunity to join the Exploration Society, which allows boys with a passion for outdoor activities to pursue more challenging ventures. Activities include hiking, kayaking, rock-climbing, mountain bike touring and cross country skiing.

Exchange programEdit

St Peter's College's exchange program has links with schools in Germany, France, China, South Africa, England, Switzerland, Mexico and Canada.

Notable graduatesEdit

Nobel laureatesEdit





See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "St Peter's College Media Centre » New Headmaster appointed".
  2. ^ "St Peter's College, St Peters - School profile - 2013 - My School".
  3. ^ "Schedule of Annual Fees 2017" (PDF). St Peter's College. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  4. ^ Positive Education Schools Association. "PESA History". Positive Education Schools Association. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its awards". The Age. p. 11. The hard copy article also published a table of the schools which were ranked in the top ten places, as follows: (1st with 19 awards) Scotch College, Melbourne, (2nd with 17 awards) Geelong Grammar School, (3rd with 13 awards) Sydney Boys High School, (equal 4th with 10 awards each) Fort Street High School, Perth Modern School and St Peter's College, Adelaide, (equal 7th with 9 awards each) Melbourne Grammar School, North Sydney Boys High School and The King's School, Parramatta, (equal 10th with 6 awards each) Launceston Grammar School, Melbourne High School, Wesley College, Melbourne and Xavier College.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c John Tregenza, "Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, The Founding Years 1847–1878", 1996.
  12. ^ "St Peter's College Memories". The Register (Adelaide). XCI, (26, 483). South Australia. 5 July 1926. p. 9. Retrieved 21 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Death of Archdeacon Farr". Adelaide Observer. LXI (3, 254). 13 February 1904. p. 34. Retrieved 4 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "School Houses". St Peter's College. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  15. ^ Miller, J. S. C. (1974). "Mendes da Costa, Benjamin (1803 - 1868)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 2006-09-19.
  16. ^ Bednall, Jai (26 May 2010). "PAC sends early – Intercol warning". Messenger – Eastern Courier. Adelaide, Australia.
  17. ^ Gordon, Danielle (26 December 2000). "Princes reign in Intercol rivalry". The Advertiser. Adelaide, Australia.
  18. ^ Thornton, Katharine (2010). The messages of its walls and fields : a history of St Peter's College, 1847 to 2009. Kent Town, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press. p. 63. ISBN 9781862549227.
  19. ^ "Lawrence Bragg – Biographical".
  20. ^ "Sir Howard Florey – Biographical".
  21. ^ "J. Robin Warren – Biographical".
  22. ^ "Research Centre for the History of Food and Drink".
  23. ^ McGill, Maryanne. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  24. ^ Bray, J. J. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  25. ^ Rollison, Kay. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  26. ^ Bartlett, Peter. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  27. ^ "Don Dunstan Foundation - Don Dunstan: A life of achievement".
  28. ^ Garis, B. K. De. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  29. ^ Wales, State Library of New South. "Thomas Lancelot Lewis (1922 - )".
  30. ^ Hyslop, Robert (1979), "Belt, Francis Walter (1862–1938)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, retrieved 29 December 2018
  31. ^ Blackburn, R.A (1979). "Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth (1892 - 1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 7 (Online ed.). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp. 307–308. Retrieved 2008-01-23.. Blackburn also attended Pulteney Grammar School.
  32. ^ Sweeting, A.J (1990). "Wylly, Guy George Egerton (1880 - 1962)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 12 (Online ed.). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp. 589–590. Retrieved 2008-01-23.. Wylly also attended The Hutchins School.
  33. ^ "DR. J. W. FLOOD DEAD". The News. XII (1, 776) (HOME ed.). Adelaide. 25 March 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 7 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  34. ^ "London 2012 - Henry Frayne Athlete Profile". Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  35. ^ "Knight's draft shock –".
  36. ^ "Youthful Century-Makers". The News. Adelaide. 11 December 1924. p. 11. Retrieved 7 July 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  37. ^ Berry, Dean W. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  38. ^ Who's Who in Australia 2016, ConnectWeb, 2016.

External linksEdit