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Nikki Williams

Director of Enrolments and Communications Cont-tara

History

Established in 1897, Tara has over 120 years experience in educating young people in the Parramatta and Hills region of Sydney. We are a school with a rich history.

Tara was founded by Mary Elizabeth Waugh on 5 June 1897 in Parramatta. Driven by a strong desire for the education of the children of the Parramatta district and coming from a family with a long history in education, Miss Waugh began conducting morning classes to boys and girls at Roseneath Cottage. In 1899, Tara relocated to The Cedars property and then in 1902 to St John’s Parish Hall. In 1911, Miss Waugh moved the School to her family residence, which was also known as Tara. In 1926, the School moved to the property, Northwood at Hassall Street and it was from this location that Miss Waugh continued her teaching of primary-aged boys and girls for the next twenty years until her death in July 1946. 

Following Miss Waugh’s death, Tara parents and the Rector of All Saint’s Church in Parramatta, the Reverend Edward Walker, moved the School to All Saint’s Church Hall. In 1947, Tara came under the governance of the Council for the Promotion of Sydney Church of England Diocesan Schools. In 1951, due to an increase in student numbers, the school was relocated to the Ellangowan property and Mrs Nancy Katherine Buck was appointed Headmistress. At Ellangowan, the first secondary classes were offered, a new Tara House Committee was formed and a decision in March 1955 saw the cessation of enrolment for boys. Tara had officially become a School for girls only. 

In 1956, Tara experienced its most significant step forward to becoming an independent Church of England School. On 15 October 1956, an ordinance creating a separate internal council for Tara was passed by the Standing Committee of Synod of the Diocese of Sydney. In 1958, the new Tara Council approved the purchase of the Smith Family Hospital for Children with Rheumatic Fever property at Mount Arcadia, the School’s current location at Masons Drive in North Parramatta. The Reverend E.D.O. Crawford and Mrs Elizabeth Hake, both members of the school council, were most instrumental in the purchase of this property. In 1959, a new Headmistress, Miss Helen Winifred Gore Claridge was appointed taking over from Mrs Buck and on 1 August of that same year Tara’s Senior School was officially opened at Masons Drive. Tara’s Junior School remained at Ellangowan until it was officially opened at Masons Drive on 14 November 1970. 

Since the retirement of Miss Claridge in 1971, Tara has had five exceptional female leaders, today being led by Principal, Mrs Susan Middlebrook who was appointed in 2009.  Under each leadership, Tara has continued to prosper and to deliver confident and life-ready young women to society. 

Tara, through the combined efforts of the Revds. Edward Walker and E.D.O. Crawford, Elizabeth Hake, Headmistresses and Principals, Council members, staff and parents has evolved into a vibrant school community based on Anglican tradition and values. 2017 marked a significant milestone in Tara’s history which celebrated 120 years since its foundation. Tara’s diverse locations within the Parramatta district have added a rich complexity and a wealth of interest and variety to its history as well as to broader history of The Cradle City of Australia, Parramatta. 

Tara has never been just a place of buildings instead, the constant thread through our 120 years and beyond has been a sense of caring and the feeling of being a "home" for the students entrusted to the School's care. If you have been associated with Tara or are a former student, please visit our Old Girls' page. We are always willing to receive donations to our Archives and your memorabilia will help broaden the history of our School. The School Archivist can be contacted at (02) 8838 2604 or via email.

More Tara stories from Old Girls, staff, students and parents.  

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