School History

It started with an idea and was made possible by parents who were prepared to support this dream by guaranteeing a bank loan.

At a dinner party, two men (who had worked together as teachers) along with their partners talked about starting a co-educational, independent school without religious bias in the Hills District of Sydney.

In 1981, Ross Booth and Geoff Hasler embarked on their plan to establish a quality, non-selective educational institution unlike the traditional faith-based schools in Sydney.

Ross Booth had had a long-time vision to build an independent grammar school based on ideals of academic excellence.  His parents Joan and Fred Booth supported his vision. 

Booth and Hasler approached government departments and financial institutions to garner support for this project and after months of research, The Australian Bank agreed to fund it if they could demonstrate adequate community support and financial viability.

The community response was overwhelming with demand for information, attendances at public meetings and interested parents requesting some 3,000 prospectus.

Ross Booth embarked on this journey without Geoff Hasler and by July 1982, there were 80 parents committed to enrolling their children in 1983. This was viewed by the bank as insufficient numbers, however, by August 1982, 130 families were financially committed to enrolling their children.

At a public meeting attended by some 500 interested parents, the Australian Bank advised the parents that the school could only proceed if the parents themselves were to share the financial risk with the Bank by guaranteeing loan funds.

By the end of the following week, community members signed limited personal guarantees and the bank then advanced funds of $1,000,000 for completion of site purchase and building works.

In an unprecedented show of support and commitment, some 70 parents and supporters went guarantor to the Value of $600,000 to protect the Australian Bank's investment.

The school prospectus was written, the 22-acre site at Kenthurst purchased for $380,000 and on 4 September 1981 the name, The Hills Grammar School was registered.

A Development Application was submitted to Baulkham Hills Shire Council on February 25 1982, with letters of non-objection from the adjoining neighbours and was finally approved by 5 June 1982.

In July of 1982, the School submitted a Building Application to the Baulkham Hills Shire Council which was given approval on October 5, 1982.

The School Council was incorporated as a non-profit company on August 30, 1982. Foundation Council Members were; Mr David Lane, Mr Robert Hood, Mr Ross Booth, Mr Daniel Martinez and Mr Richard White.

 The building firm Paynter & Dixon was engaged as Project Managers for the construction of Stage One of the building program. 

The day before the School opened for the students, foundation families who had shared the vision and financial risk with the founders and School Council, enjoyed a school community picnic and tour of the new building. 

The School opened for classes on Monday 7 February 1983 with 162 students in attendance from Kindergarten to Year 9.

1983 - 1995 Black and White or Green - Letterhead Old English

1996 - 2002 Colour and letterhead changed from Old English to Noverese font

2003 - 2014 Colour with added "Founded 1982"

2015 Colour with "Hills Grammar" on side 

A History of the School Crest

From the designer of the School Crest

As many School Crests contain symbols which relate to their geographic position or academic aspirations, I felt it appropriate to include these criteria when designing it.

The triangular shapes at the top indicate the Hills District of Sydney and the climbing direction of learning. Within these shapes were the five stars representing the Southern Cross. Below are the branches of the fruit tree, again symbolising the character of this area. The final inclusion, a target, idealised the need for everyone to have an aim in life.

I am pleased to have had some small connection with the school and its inauguration and wish both staff and students continued success.

Peter Nield N.D.D., A.T.D. (Birm) | Art Master – Oakhill College – 1982

From the Founder of the School

• Concentric circles implies growth

• The branches imply nurturing of growth

• Chevrons imply direction of growth leading upwards to the intellectual jewels and striving for Excellence

Ross Booth | Founder of the School – June 1999


The Hills Grammar School started with three houses launched at the first Swimming Carnival just over a month after the school opened, they were – Rogan House, Pennant House and Castle House. 


Another House added - McGrath House


After a lengthy process of consultation with students the student leadership unveiled the new House crest and mottos.

The Hills Grammar School has four Houses; the history behind each is detailed below.

Castle House - BLUE

Castle is named after Castle Hill which itself was so named, it is thought, because of the fine views it afforded of the surrounding area. The area itself was first seen by Governor Arthur Phillip who explored and earmarked the area for farming in 1791. The first mention of the name ‘Castle Hill’ occurs in a dispatch to England, written by Governor Phillip Gidley King, dated March 1, 1802.

“...a great progress has been made in clearing land at Castle Hill, where I hope to sow two hundred acres on the public account this year”

The first settler was Frenchman Baron Verincourt de Clambe. He received a grant of two hundred acres in 1808. It has been suggested that locals, because of De Clambe’s noble status as Baron, commonly called his house ‘The Castle’.

McGrath House - GREEN

McGrath carries the name of the hill which owes its origins to James McGrath (1772-1833), a convict who, along with John Howe, built the first wharf at Windsor and the Parramatta Windsor Road (Macquarie’s Turnpike Road) in 1813. The first use of the name McGrath, in reference to the area, came in 1832 following McGrath’s brief ownership of a farm in 1815. While the ownership was short lived his association with the area and his contribution to settling, opening up and establishing the area have ensured his name has survived.

Pennant House - RED

Legend has it that in the early days of the Hills District a pennant was raised at what is now West Pennant Hills to alert settlers that the Governor of the day had left Sydney and was en route to Parramatta. It is now certain that Pennant Hills was named after the English zoologist, botanist and naturalist Thomas Pennant who was a friend of Sir Joseph Banks. There are several references to this area in early government dispatches with several variations on spelling. Governor Phillip Gidley King refers to Pendant Hill in a 1800 dispatch, “Another stock yard was designed for Government at Pendant Hills in Dundas District but is not yet begun to be enclosed”.

Rogan House - YELLOW

Rogan is named after Rogan’s Hill which is named after John Rogan. who was a convict. He arrived in the colony in 1806, on board the ship “Fortune”, to serve a seven year sentence. He was employed by Gregory Blaxland and was granted 50 acres (20 hectares) of land in 1821 for his own use. The land granted to John Rogan encompassed the area we now know as Rogan’s Hill and is understood to have been situated on the eastern side of what is now Old Northern Road.

Michael van Heeswyk 1982-1985

Michael van Heeswyk was the Inaugural Headmaster of The Hills Grammar School, appointed on 29 October 1982 as having the ideal personality to lead the School in its inaugural year. With feverish activity Michael van Heeswyk saw the School open to 162 students on 7 February 1983 with the first senior school state of the art building, some demountable classrooms, books and equipment purchased, staff appointed, a uniform designed and manufactured, basic landscaping completed, a myriad essential tasks and a demand for enrolments.  He adopted a high presence in all aspects of school life, from primary school camps to Headmasters’ Conferences. He put the School in the forefront of technology through the School’s computer program initiated in 1984 and launched in 1985.

Throughout his time as Headmaster Mr Michael van Heeswyk introduced a number of projects aimed at bringing the community together. This involved prominent educationalists and business people invited to address staff, parents and the general public. Under Michael van Heeswyk’s watch there was soaring enrolment and a flourishing School with significant achievements.

“Mr van Heesyk led this establishment through three years punctuated by crises.  Despite the traumas which beset our formative years he has brought the School to a point of physical prosperity from which there is no looking back.  Furthermore, enrolments are at a maximum, waiting lists healthy and a curriculum well established which will form the basis for continued excellence.  He deserves our thanks for having assembled a professional, conscientious body of teachers committed to the ideals of the School and the well-being of the children.” (Management Committee 1986)

Ronald Ayling 1986 – 1995

With a distinguished academic background Ronald Ayling was appointed as The Hills Grammar School’s second Principal in the third term of 1986. He founded The Hills Grammar Society of the Arts in 1987 and presided over much of the School’s building program. He is credited in achieving the completion of 5 major buildings with The Library being opened in 1993. Ron Ayling initiated the Overseas Students program and The Hills Grammar School’s twin school through UNESCO in Shanghai China. He was an advocate for equal opportunity and gender equality and quoting from a past School Councillor “He was a man of his times, and his going was part of the process of shaping the school for the next stage in its development. He had a gentle approach to life, passion for academia, love of the students and commitment to honing the learning experience into a memorable one for all.”

Robert Phipps 1996-2016

Robert Phipps was appointed in January 1996 as the third Principal of The Hills Grammar School. During his time, he targeted the strategic development of the School with reviews and reaffirmation of the School’s vision for education and setting priorities for future development. In 1997 he faced a test case for Independent Schools with an unlawful discrimination case lodged with the Human Rights Commission. He commissioned an audit on the physical environment of the School to improve wheelchair access and was committed to the development of the School as a high quality learning community. The School Development Plan 2001 – 2007 and the 2008 - 2020 strategy was the vision of the School for the future, with the Master Building Plan to focus on Capital works projects, a relaunch of fundraising campaigns for the acquisition of addition land, the refurbishment of school buildings, additional car parking areas, opening of new buildings, a sports precinct and new entry for the school.

The school facilities continued to grow and in 2010 the Early Childhood Education Centre was opened for 3-5-year-old children. Rob Phipps saw his role as Principal to oversee the strategic development of the School and to build a culture of continuous improvement. He expanded the International Education Program and set up the Leaning Enrichment Centre and increased the student capacity of the School. Robert Phipps was a lifelong learner taking sabbatical leave at Oxford University in Management and Leadership Program in 2013 and to Harvard University in 2008. He established the professional learning module at Hills Grammar, recognising that teacher quality has a significant impact on student learning. He was awarded the Presidential Service Award in recognition of the Hills Grammar School’s support of the Rotary exchange student program.

Leadership was a strong focus and as Principal modelled leadership in the School on the notion of servant leadership. He focused on the student learning in the context of the development of the whole person. His love and care for the students, staff and parents of the School was unceasing and noted in his last letter to the School June 2016.

Senior School Captains

1986 | Jodie Wearne

1987 | Liz James

1988 | Nicole Samodol

1989 | Adam McDonald

1990 | Amanda Hutton

1991 | Cassandra Beilby

1992 | Andrew Hansen

1993 | Lani Fried

1994 | Andrew Matthews

1995 | Ben Hall

1996 | Sam Murray

1997 | Barnaby Howarth

1998 | Andrew Poole

1999 | Troy Anthony and Rebecca Kozor

2000 | Todd Stevens and Melissa Ironside

2001 | Anneke Rowe and Cameron Barnsley

2002 | Matthew Hodges and Larissa Stevens

2003 | John Hobby and Yasemin Burmi

2004 | Ashley Howarth and Kieran Campbell

2005 | Jaye Smale and Iain Bylsma

2006 | Stephanie Coombes and Christopher Summers

2007 | Julia van der Hoven and Todd Darvas

2008 | Max Andrew-Kabilafkas and Nicole Hedermann

2009 | Charlie Cox and Rashmi Chary

2010 | Caitlin Carpenter and Nicholas Starr

2011 | Sally Cash and Usman Ashraf

2012 | Harriet Tegal and Alexander Rashleigh

2013 | Tiffany Wu and Jack Andrew-Kabilafkas

2014 | Eliza Tegel and Jerry Boyaji

2015 | Marie Sherry and Sean Murphy

2016 | Anna Coote and Cooper Lee

2017 | Tristan Dearden and Kathryn Solomou

Junior School Captains

1986 | n/a

1987 | Kristina Coombes and Davin Finn

1988 | Clair Whelanand Terence Ho

1989 | Kim Watson and Jeremy Coombes

1990 | Catherine Schrader and Benjamin Dugan

1991 | Douglass Schrader and Caroline Whelan

1992 | Adam Meguid and Samantha Frain

1993 | Josephine Ayling and James Whelan

1994 | Daniel Neave and Megan Walters

1995 | Eric Lobbes and Bronwen Morgan

1996 | Alexander Meguid and Delta Goodrem

1997 | Deborah Fletcher and Andrew McKinnon

1998 | Amanda Wheatley and Christopher Smith

1999 | Jaye Smale and Christopher Barrett

2000 | Michelle Cutts and Timothy Wheatley

2001 | Jenny McDonald and James Wheatley

2002 | Jodie Wheatley and Luke Manning

2003 | Rashmi Chary and Charles Cox

2004 | Montana Mays and Nicholas Starr

2005 | Ashleigh Morgan and Jason Hesse

2006 | Charlotte Zammit and Ryan Crimi

2007 | Eden Faithfull and Luke Romic

2008 | Jessica Funda and Jackson Lee

2009 | Olivia Dressler Smith and JK Kazzi

2010 | Anna Coote and Cooper Lee

2011 | Laura Romeo and Joshua Kazzi

2012 | Chelsea McVay and Ethan Tegel

2013 | Mackenzie Leach and Arjun Kalyanakumar

2014 | Whitney Wales and Michael Sherry 

2015 | Kristy Hampson and Teague Lilley

2016 | Bailey Leach and William Davidson

2017 | Ruby Cook and Rory Wilson


1983 – 1984 Robert Yandell

1985 - Gordon Jones

1986 - 1988 Carolyn Smale

1988 – 1989 Bill Peel

1990 – 1991 Alan Jones

1991 – 1992 Phil Banister

1993 – 1996 Lance Dowle

1996 – 1997 Michael Green

Presidents: Family and Friends Association (FAFA)

1993 – 1994 Jan Frain’

1994 – 1995 Lea Goodrem

1995 – 1996 Georgia Hughes

1996 – 1997 Eileen Stratford

 (Name change to PAFA)

Presidents: Parents & Friends Association Inc. (PAFA)

1997 - 1998 Peter Bray (Previously known as Parents Association)

1998 - 2000 Eileen Stratford

2001 - 2002 John Dakin

2003 - 2008 Mr Ken Chester

2008 - 2009 Paula Leverett

2009 - 2011 George Kazzi

2012 – 2014 Mark Rice

2014 - 2015 Kathryn Perriman

2015 – 2016 Dana Coleman

(Note: In 1996 and 1997 there were three Associations – Parents Association, FAFA, and EXPO)

EXPO (Ex-Parents Organisation)

1996 President – Margaret Hatton (EXPO ceased in 1997)

Image Captions: First Swimming Carnival 1983, School Leaders 1987, School Leaders 2000, School Leaders 2010, School Leaders 2014

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