Davidson High School (New South Wales)

Davidson High School, (abbreviation DHS) is a school located in Frenchs Forest, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on Mimosa Street. It is a co-educational high school operated by the New South Wales Department of Education with students from years 7 to 12. The school was established in 1972 as a result of the growing population in the Frenchs Forest and Belrose areas and is located on a site bounded by heritage-listed remnant bushland.

Davidson High School
Coordinates33°44′43.36″S 151°12′17.17″E
TypePublic, secondary, co-educational, day school
MottoLatin: Sapienter si Sincere
(Wisely if Sincerely.)
PrincipalJann Pattinson
Enrolment~739 (7–12)[1]
CampusMimosa Street
Colour(s)Red and navy blue         
MascotDavo Moose
NewspaperThe Davidson Dispatch (monthly newsletter)
WebsiteDavidson High School

Davidson High has a prominent history of involvement in the performing arts, in Dance, Drama and Music, and annually produces the "Season of Performing Arts" at the local Glen Street Theatre. In 2004 and 2007, Davidson High entered the New South Wales Rock Eisteddfod Competition with pieces relating to the Iraq war. Both performances came under a lot of media scrutiny, with a similar result. Many of its alumni have gone on to notable success, some taking high public office and others gaining distinction within their particular fields.


Davidson High School was originally to be called Sorlie High School after George Sorlie, an idealistic developer of land in the district. However, the residents of the area requested a change of name for the suburb, which was granted.[2] The new suburb, and consequently the new high school, was named after Sir Walter Davidson, a popular Governor of New South Wales from 1918 until his death in 1923, and to whom the parklands of 2,500 acres (10 km2) called Davidson Park were dedicated, which now lies within Garigal National Park. This forms the western boundary of Davidson.[3] However the site of the school lies not in Davidson but on the western edge of Frenchs Forest.

A meeting was called on 12 August 1971 at Wakehurst Public School. Representatives of the teaching staff and P.&C. Associations of Frenchs Forest, Wakehurst, Mimosa, and Belrose Public Schools, were advised by representatives of the Education Department of a proposed new school adjoining the grounds of Mimosa School. This new school would be known as Davidson High, with the anticipated completion date of January 1973.[4] The design of the school, drafted by architects Ian McHutchison, Douglas Anderson and Ronald Powell under the administration of the New South Wales Government Architect Ted Farmer, was termed a "Study 3 School". The design was created to be the 'go-to plan' for the majority of constructions in NSW state schools from 1971. Thus, Davidson High School was one of many created in this Brutalist style in the period, including Evans High School (1971, Blacktown), Mulwaree High School (1971, Goulburn), Galston High School (1972, Galston), Lake Illawarra High School (1972, Lake Illawarra), Kooringal High School (1973, Wagga Wagga), Casula High School (1973, Casula) and Macintyre High School (1974, Inverell).[5]

The design reflected the change in the NSW Education system since the landmark 'Wyndham Report' and the Public Education Act 1961 from the Form-based to subject-based structure of students. Thus each "Study 3 School" was designed with its classrooms organised around each subject department, requiring pupils, rather than staff, to move between lessons, and allowed specialist facilities for each subject, very much an experimental concept at the time. The Brutalist design of the school was one very consciously chosen by the Government Architect's Branch who in one report noted that the school design was "...the largest and most expansive and in terms of the 'heavy' style of architecture, the most handsome yet evolved."[5] Prominent Sydney architect Russell Jack (of Allen Jack+Cottier), in his evaluation of Davidson High's design, agreed, noting that

The various blocks are well grouped - less formally than the doughnut layouts [of the Form-based school designs] - and they consequently create a more human atmosphere. There are some lapses in scale from that which would seem appropriate for children. For instance, the use of deep window reveals in the brick walls is almost monumental. Generally there is a friendliness apt for its purpose, enhanced by the restrained use of primary colour on columns, balustrades and doors. These elements provide enlivening contrast in the face brickwork and off-form concrete surfaces.[5]

The school's earliest students were housed between Killarney Heights High School and The Forest High School from 1972–1973. In early 1973, Year 7 classes were situated in Mimosa Public School and Year 8 classes at Killarney Heights Public School, requiring students, teachers and parents to travel in between schools. The buildings on the present site were first completed and occupied in September 1973.[4]

Despite the library not being completed until 1976, the school was officially opened in January 1974 by the NSW Minister for Education, Eric Willis.[4] The ceremony was also attended by Dick Healey (Member for Davidson 1971–1981), Harry Turner, (Member for Bradfield, 1952–1974) and the Principal, William Lambert, who said to the students: "...Davidson High is yours, continue the effort that has been made by so many to develop it. Keep building it, with pride and earnest endeavour."[4] Like the neighbouring Mimosa Public School, Davidson High was built on a site bounded by forested bushland remnants of the Duffys Forest Ecological Community, which was listed as being Major Local Significance under the Warringah Local Environmental Plan (updated 2011) in 2000.[6]

In December 1995, the Head Teacher of Legal Studies, Jan Jones, was awarded the NSW Award at the 1995 National Excellence in Teaching Awards, presented by the Australian Scholarships Foundation.[7] Jones was the Teacher of Legal Studies at Davidson from 1989 until her death in 2000, and the school function room was dedicated as the Jan Jones Room in her memory not long after.[8] Teacher of Music from 1989 to 2014, Helen Oberg, was also awarded the NSW Minister's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1995.[7] In October 1997 Davidson High School made a sister School agreement with Morioka Chuo High School in Morioka, Japan.[9] In 1999 Davidson High School was awarded the Director-General's Award for School Achievement for "Achievements in Agenda Priority Areas".[10]

In 2007 the Davidson Community of Schools was unveiled by the Principal, Rod Cawsey, building closer ties with local primary schools, with the intention to enhance the learning of students in the Davidson community through joint educational programs, combined teacher development and the sharing of resources. The community also consists of Belrose, Kambora, Wakehurst, Mimosa and Terrey Hills Public Schools.[11] In 2011, Davidson High signed a school partnership agreement with the Collège Sainte-Anne de Lachine in Lachine, Quebec, Canada.[12]

Crest and motto

While at Killarney Heights High School in 1972, the parents of the first students were granted permission by the Lairds of the Clan Davidson to use the crest, shield and tartan of Clan Davidson of Tulloch.[2] The distinctive tartan colours and the stag's head were incorporated in the badge, and are still used as part of the uniform. The Clan Davidson and subsequently Davidson High Motto - 'Sapienter si Sincere' - means 'Wisely if Sincerely' or alternately, 'with wisdom if with sincerity'.[2]

However, during the tenure of the third Principal, Roy Beauman, the motto was altered on the shield from the Latin 'Sapienter si Sincere' to English and the words transposed to read 'Sincerely if Wisely'. The ornate shield was removed from the crest and was produced in green, white, navy and brown.[2] A further change occurred during the tenure of Principal John McManus, and the motto was altered on the crest to 'Wisely Sincerely'. The crest underwent further design changes and was enclosed by a different shield, produced in red and navy.[2]


YearsDavidson High School[13]
1972–1974William Lambert, B.A.
1975–1979Austin Hayes, B.A.
1980–1982Betty Anderson, B.A.[14]
1983–1987Roy Beuman, A.S.T.C.
1988–1990John McManus, B.A.
1991–1992Grahame Roe, B.A. B.Ed. Dip.Ed.
1992–1996Roslynne Moxham, M.A.Ed. B.Mus.Ed. A.Mus.A. F.A.C.E.
1997–2001Mark Anderson, M.Ed. B.A. Dip.Ed.
2002–2005Chris Bonnor, AM B.A. (Hons) Dip.Ed. Dip.Soc.Ed. F.A.C.E.
2006–2011Rod Cawsey, M.Ed. B.A. Dip.Teach
2011[15]Jann Pattinson, B.A. Dip.Ed.

Senior staff

The Principal of DHS from 1992–1996 was Roslynne Moxham. In 2002, she was awarded a Fellowship of the Australian College of Educators (FACE) "For contributions through outstanding leadership in NSW high schools and to student learning and teaching practice, particularly in Gifted and Talented Education and Music Education." She has also been Principal of Fort Street High School since 2000.[16]

The principal from 1997–2001 was Mark Anderson. On his arrival in 1997 enrolments had dropped from 1145 to 484 in the previous ten years. Anderson introduced a gifted and talented program to target the specialist needs of certain student interests to combat this and by the time of his departure, enrolments stood at over 600. In January 2002 Anderson took up the appointment of the founding Principal of the Sydney Secondary College, which had been created through the amalgamation of three inner-city high schools.[17] Serving until 2004, Anderson became School Education Director for the Western Sydney Region in 2005 and is now Director of People and Careers for the NSW Department of Education since 2014.

The principal of Davidson High from 2002–2005 was Chris Bonnor. During that time he was President of the NSW Secondary Principals Council from 2001–2006 and was also a Member of the Australian College of Educators (MACE). Previously he had also been Principal of Asquith Boys’ High School from 1991–2000. On 26 January 2007 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the General Division for "service to education through significant contributions to the development of educational policy and practice in New South Wales, the promotion of excellence in school leadership, and advocacy for public education."[18] In 2013, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Australian College of Educators (FACE), with his citation noting that he "has demonstrated outstanding professional practice through significant contributions to student learning, teaching and leadership of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council. Christopher has also made contributions to education policy development in NSW. All of his experience has been characterised by an unwavering commitment to equity of opportunity and outcomes for students."[19]

The principal of Davidson High from 2006 until his retirement in August 2011 was Rod Cawsey, who, as Deputy Principal, took over as Acting Principal from Chris Bonnor in the third quarter of 2005, but did not become officially Principal until 2006. Upon his retirement, Deputy Principal Sue Anderson became Acting Principal until Cawsey's successor was chosen.[20] In October 2011, Jann Pattinson was appointed as the new Principal of Davidson High, effective from 17 November. Pattinson is the coordinator of the Pittwater Community of Schools and also the STEM Project Manager for Macquarie University. Pattinson had previously been the DHS Head Teacher for Teaching and Learning and briefly as acting Deputy Principal before leaving in 2006 to become the Deputy Principal at Moss Vale High School.[21]


A House system was formed by staff at Davidson in 1973. The four houses were originally named Mimosa, Blackbutt, Belrose and Waratah, after prominent local plant species. The present house system was introduced by the second Principal, Austin Hayes, and were named after the individual stars of the Southern Cross.[4] The current houses of Davidson High School and their associated colours are      Gamma,      Alpha,      Delta and      Beta.

Performing arts

Davidson High School has a prominent history in the performing arts, dating back to the school's establishment, with three distinct branches: Music, Dance and Drama.[22]

The music program at Davidson comprises three bands, Concert Band 2 for years 7-10 and Concert Band 1 for Seniors and all capable students, and a Stage Band for all students. The Bands annually perform at the Season of Performing Arts (SOPA) at the Glen Street Theatre, school functions, and at the Northern Beaches Eisteddfod. There are also Instrumental ensembles that deal with smaller groups such as Brass, Clarinet and Saxophone.[23]

The Vocal ensemble, originally formed in 1973, is the oldest musical group in the school and performs throughout the year, including the Season of Performing Arts and the Schools Spectacular.[23]

The school drama programme consists of ensembles of junior and senior students and of which concentrate on working up performances for the Season of Performing Arts, drama nights, and the regional and state drama festivals. In recent years the Drama ensemble has done a 'Drama Tour' to local Schools, performing workshops for young students.[24]

In dance, students perform in many styles and groups and in many competitions such as the NSW Rock Eisteddfod Challenge, in which Davidson has been performing since it began in 1980 and is the only remaining original school, and the Season of Performing Arts.[25]

Rock Eisteddfod

The School came under external criticism and media scrutiny when Davidson has entered the 2004 Rock Eisteddfod competition with a performance, named "Bad Night in Baghdad", with a satirical and underlying message about the Iraq war. The dance piece sparked up debate over the alleged "politicisation" of schools and freedom of speech, and was criticised by the then Federal Minister for Education, Dr. Brendan Nelson, who said that the production presented an "extremely biased view" of the war.[26] However, the school and the dance piece were also defended by the Principal of the day, Chris Bonnor, and New South Wales Deputy-Premier and Education Minister, Dr. Andrew Refshauge.[27] Despite this, Davidson went on to take joint first place with Rose Bay Secondary College in the Open grand final and performed at the national competition.[28]

In 2007, Davidson entered a second performance with a similar topic, entitled Bad Knight II, which got the attention of the then Federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop, who accused the teachers of having "private political agendas" and said that the timing of the performance was "interesting", given the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit was being held in Sydney at the time, where U.S. President George Bush and other foreign leaders would be visiting.[29] The performance was defended by the NSW Minister for Education and Training, John Della Bosca, who accused Bishop of using her supposed concern over the school's performance to criticise the public education system: "I think it's another demonstration of how far out of touch Mrs Bishop and her colleagues in the Howard government are...the concern they have is just another (opportunity) to run down the achievements of young people in public education."[30]


The "Season of Performing Arts" or "SOPA" was established in 1994, originally as the "Evenings of Performing Arts", as a means of annually showcasing the best of all the performing arts: Music, Dance, and Drama. It is held over several days at the local Glen Street Theatre.[22]

Student leadership

At the instigation of the second Principal, Austin Hayes, the first student council was formed in 1976, and the first School Captains were elected in 1975.[4] The Student Representative Council (SRC) consists of students elected from years 7-11 who are active in the school and have an input into school and student issues.[31]

In senior years there are two School Captains, four School Vice-Captains and the Prefects, who are elected by their year and are ambassadors for the school, directing assemblies and providing leadership for the school and extra-curricular activities.[31] In addition to this, there are also four House Captains elected for each house: two Junior Captains from year 10 and two Senior Captains from year 12. The House Captains provide leadership and direction for House activities in the School Carnivals and other sporting events.[31]

Debating and Public Speaking also play a role in the school, with previous student involvement in the Premier's Debating Challenge, New South Wales Law Society Mock Trial Competition, the Sydney Morning Herald Public Speaking Competition, Rotary 'Youth Speaks' Competition, and the Rotary Model United Nations Assembly.[22]

Notable alumni

Academia and community

  • Cornelia Rau – German citizen and Australian permanent resident who was unlawfully detained as part of the mandatory detention program.[32]
  • Dr. Nicole Verrills – Researcher at the School of Biomedical sciences at Newcastle University and recipient of the 2007 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for her research on leukaemia.[33]


Politics, law, and defence


Entertainment and the arts

See also


  1. "Davidson High School". School Locator. NSW Public Schools. Archived from the original on 5 September 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  2. "Our School - History". Davidson High School. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  3. The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollon, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8, page 81
  4. Davidson High School P&C Association, Davidson High School - The First Twenty years (Syd, 1992) ISBN 0-646-08149-7
  5. Jack, Russell C., "The Work of the N.S.W. Government Architect's Branch - 1958–1973" (M.Arch. Degree Thesis), Faculty of Architecture, University of New South Wales, 1980, pp. 105-107.
  6. "Trees, Davidson High School". Heritage search. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  7. The Davidson Dispatch, November 1995
  8. The Davidson Dispatch, June 2000
  9. "Morioka Chuo - Sister Schools". Morioka Chuo High School. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  10. "Director-General's Award for School Achievement" (PDF). New South Wales Department of Education and Training. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  11. "Pooling resources for school of future". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 July 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  12. "Écoles partenaires - Davidson High School". Collège Sainte-Anne de Lachine. Archived from the original on 4 August 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  13. Davidson High School Honour Roll - Principals
  14. Headmistress of North Sydney Girls High School, 1987-1990.
  15. Effective from 17 November 2011.
  16. "Roslynne Moxham". Australian College of Educators. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  17. Burke, Kelly (12 August 2004). "Being selective hits the mark with most parents". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  18. "Mr. Christopher Richard Bonnor - AM" (PDF). Governor General of Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  19. "2013 Fellowship recipients - Mr Christopher Bonnor, FACE". www.austcolled.com.au. Australian College of Educators. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  20. "Davidson Dispatch - August 2011" (PDF). Davidson High School. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  21. "Davidson Dispatch - October 2011" (PDF). Davidson High School. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  22. "Our School: Opportunities". Davidson High School. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  23. "Opportunities - Music". Davidson High School. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  24. "Opportunities - Drama". Davidson High School. Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  25. "Opportunities - Dance". Davidson High School. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  26. "Rock Eisteddfod rocks Government". The Guardian. 11 August 2004. Archived from the original on 28 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  27. "Rock Values". ABC Stateline. 10 September 2004. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  28. "School's war dance wins". Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2004. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  29. "Students who rock the boat". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  30. "Bishop out of touch over Eisteddfod: Della Bosca". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  31. "School Profile: Leadership". Davidson High School. Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  32. "Submission of the Rau Family to the Inquiry into the Detention of Cornelia Rau" (PDF). Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  33. "Scientists honoured for sparing animals the lab". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  34. "SBS Insight - Our Team". Special Broadcasting Service. Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  35. "60 Minutes — meet the team: Tara Brown". Nine Network. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  36. "Metro man finds mates on track". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  37. "Walkley 2000 nominees - Joshua Murray - Radio 2UE - "Troops in Timor: The INTERFET Deployment"". Scoop Independent News. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  38. "Andrew Humpherson (1958 - ) (sic)". State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 14 July 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  39. "Ceremonial Sitting of the Full Court For the Swearing in and Welcome of the Honourable Justice Wigney". Federal Court > Judges' Speeches > Wigney-J-20130909. Federal Court of Australia. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  40. "NRMA - Meet the Board". National Roads and Motorists' Association. Archived from the original on 16 June 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  41. "DUNN, Lucinda Joanne - Medal of the Order of Australia". It's an Honor database. Australian Government. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014. For service to the performing arts through ballet.
  42. Bennett, Rod (6 April 2014). "Australian Ballet legend looks back on a wonderful life and to her sparkling future". The Manly Daily. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  43. "Michael Hutchence: Life". The Official site of Michael Hutchence. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  44. "Chicago the musical - Cast". Archived from the original on 31 August 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  45. "Lachlan Philpott". AustralianPlays.org. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  46. "Danielle Spencer on life with a Hollywood hero". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
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