History and Culture

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3: 11

The Arndell Family Legacy

Arndell Anglican College takes its name from Thomas Arndell, one of the Hawkesbury’s early settlers and a founder in 1809 of the Ebenezer church, the oldest church building in Australia. Arndell came to the colony with the First Fleet as an assistant surgeon on the Friendship. He was a member of Watkin Tench’s party that explored west from Parramatta in 1789 and subsequently he held the position of surgeon at Parramatta until 1794. He then grew wheat and maize on a farm in the same area. In 1804, he took up a grant of 600 acres at Cattai and later became the first magistrate at Windsor. Arndell remained in the area until his death in 1821 and he is interred in a vault at St Matthew’s, Windsor.

After several years of preparation, Arndell College began in 1990 at the instigation of Craig Laffin, the first Headmaster, who was supported by a group of local families. Originally the College was sited at “Macquarie Retreat” on Threkeld Drive in Cattai, a property that was part of the original Arndell grant and was at that stage owned by the Reverend Seton Arndell, Thomas’s great-great-great-great grandson, who maintained a strong interest in the College in its early years. The College’s original insignia emphasized the cross, the Hawkesbury River and the book of learning.

Founding Ethos and Philosophy

  • The College was characterized from the outset by the following features:
  • Children were to be brought to Christ and accept Christian values and attitudes.
  • Pastoral care of children was to permeate all aspects of the College, with concern for and interest in all children.
  • Firm but fair discipline was seen as the key to successful learning by children, and the highest standards of courtesy and respect for others were demanded of them.
  • The College aimed to give prominence to individuals achieving to the best of their ability – literacy and numeracy were to be stressed, while also promoting opportunities for achievement in non-academic areas.
  • The College supported traditional family values that were recognized as being central to the spiritual and moral growth of each child.
  • The College supported parents in the prime role for the education of their children, and welcomed them as participants in the life of the College.
  • The staff were to be Christian, professional educators, committed to their students and the College, and highly respected in the College for their dedication and achievements.


History and Leadership

As the founding Principal, Craig Laffin (1990-1994) oversaw the establishment of the College at Cattai and its subsequent move to its current site at Oakville. He drew together the students, staff and families of the College to build a school community and educational ethos that continues to influence the philosophy and daily life of the College today.

The second Principal, Peter Walker (1995-2002), grew the student population to over 800 from K-12 and oversaw the transition of the College into the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation. The building infrastructure and financial security of the College was established during this time.

The third Headmaster, Dr John Goddard (2003-2008), worked with the College to build the strength of the curriculum and co-curriculum, especially Music. During this period, a significant number of building projects were completed, providing the College with an outstanding set of facilities for learning.

Mr James Webb was the original Secondary Coordinator of Arndell College and has served continuously in a range of senior positions including Acting Headmaster, Deputy Headmaster, Head of Senior School. He has provided energy, stability and cultural memory throughout the College’s history.

The fourth Headmaster, Mr Gareth Leechman (2010-present), has focused the College on the achievement of excellence. Consolidating the College’s enrolments and financial position, he has led a significant process of strategic renewal that has seen student achievement, staff culture and College operations flourish.

College Culture

The College Crest builds on the legacy of its earlier incarnations. It is dominated by the central cross, indicating the importance of Christ and his teachings in all our endeavours. The rays coming from the cross indicate the infusion of Christian thought in all that we do. The undulating lines represent the Hawkesbury River. The school colours of red and blue are distinctive among schools in the Hawkesbury region.

Greenway House is named in honour of the convict architect, Francis Greenway, who designed many of the fine buildings of early New South Wales, a number of which still stand in the Hawkesbury region. Greenway’s colour is green and its verse comes from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Johnson House is named in honour of the Reverend Richard Johnson, the first Chaplain of New South Wales. Johnson’s colour is blue and its verse comes from Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Macquarie House is named in honour of Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth Governor of New South Wales, responsible for converting the penal settlement into a genuine colony and perhaps its most significant early administrator. Its colour is gold and its verse comes from Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Tebbutt House is named in honour of John Tebbutt, the distinguished Australian scientist and astronomer who lived in the Hawkesbury region and whose observatory still stands a few kilometres from the site of the College. Tebbutt’s colour is red and its verse comes from 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”