Catholic Education South Australia

Our History

In 1902, Bishop Dunne, the Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, gave permission for the Sisters of Mercy to establish a convent and day school in Mount Barker. Thus the Sisters, who came from Broken Hill and the NSW inland, established the Sisters of Mercy Convent of Mount Barker; the Young Ladies High School, the convent boarding school for Girls, and the primary school, all under the name St Scholastica.

By 1945, the school had 46 day students and 64 boarders with a staff of 11 Sisters. The school continued to grow until, in 1958, with a population of 130 students, plans were drawn up for a building consisting of classrooms, teachers’ room, toilet block and verandah. The following year the school moved down the hill into the new building known as “The Dell”.

By 1963, Fr Kelly, the Parish Priest of Mount Barker, felt there was a need for a secondary school in the area. However, plans were shelved as this was not seen to be viable either financially or practically.

In 1977 the Sisters of Mercy withdrew from teaching at Mount Barker and, in 1978, the school became known as Mount Barker Parish School, staffed entirely by lay teachers. The primary school continued to grow, and the buildings with it, and by 1984 students were being bussed from Woodside and Balhannah.

In 1986 the Parish school changed its name to St Francis de Sales Parish School.

There had been several submissions to SACCS for the development of a secondary school, but it was not until 1998 that the approval was given to the development and, in the December of that year, the first transportable buildings arrived. In 1999, St Francis de Sales Parish School became a R-12 Catholic Co-educational College, now known as St Francis de Sales College. Our first Year 2 students graduated at the end of 2003 with their Year 12 Certification of Education (SACE).

The College has continued to proudly provide a Catholic education to families in the Adelaide Hills. Enrolments reflect significant changes in population in the Mount Barker district and students travel from Murray Bridge, Strathalbyn and across the hills to attend the College.

Strategic governance of the College is now vested in the College Board, appointed through elected nominations from the parent body and members from the Parish and Catholic Education SA.