Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
Irish poet WB Yeats

The “lighting of a fire” is key to the learning journey of each boy at the College, with the aim to ignite curiosity and passion, and foster perseverance.

The College’s Learning Framework is centred around the Harvard Graduate School of Education Project Zero – Teaching for Understanding framework. Developing content knowledge in a subject is very important. But it is not the only thing. learners are expected to actively use their knowledge and skills to respond to unseen questions or solve real-world problems. We call it learning for understanding. In Visual Arts this may involve students learning about the Renaissance period through direct instruction, reading and discussion. In going deeper, students will be expected to compare the techniques of two Renaissance painters or assess trends across different artistic periods. They will then demonstrate their understanding through oral discussion.

offers a broad educational program catering for the individual needs of each student. From accelerated classes in Mathematics, Business Studies and Studies of Religion to a suite of languages, including French and Latin, and electives such as Physical Activity and Sports Science. The creative arts are also well represented. Visual Arts, Music, Drama, Design and Technology, and Software Design and Development are core offerings that benefit from ’ state-of-the-art facilities and passionate teachers.

Of course, “filling of a pail” is vital in order to develop the vital skills of writing, numeracy and reading comprehension. Being knowledge-rich gives students the platform they need to critically analyse subjects and issues. These are skills that are explicitly taught, modelled and practised. They work in tandem with an emphasis on self-management, enabling students to maximise their learning time.   

’ Extended Day Program is another learning innovation unique to the College. It allows students to stay back at school, participating in co-curricular activities and study under the full supervision of teachers and tutors until 8pm. They can also participate in the Science Hub, Robotics and Strategic Games. It means boys are free from distractions and can concentrate on their homework, revision and assessments.

It is just one of the many ways dedicated staff go the extra mile to ensure each student achieves his academic potential. It’s also why the College is at the forefront in the delivery of quality education.

Our approach to learning

boys learning in classroom writing on cardboard

Connecting with and understanding students is key to their future success. At a boy’s relationship with his teacher is the pillar on which all learning is built. ’ teachers are dedicated to finding out what makes each boy tick so they can help him reach his potential.

Their aim is to create a motivated, respectful student who will be inspired to learn and feels comfortable in his environment.

Our extended school day means teachers are uniquely positioned to nurture a boy’s development through extra tuition, coaching and co-curricular activities. Interacting outside the classroom fosters a greater sense of trust and mutual respect, strengthening the teacher-student bond. This authentic holistic approach recognises that boys are so much more than just the sum of their academic studies.

teachers understand that prosperity in life is about having an inquiring mind and being curious about the world. They foster a dynamic learning environment that stimulates students and encourages them to question and query.

In addition, academic and year coordinators work together to monitor the boys’ progress and help with subject selection as they progress through school.

Boys in the 21st Century experience a multitude of distractions that can divert them from achieving their academic goals. ’ teachers and teaching programs ensure that focus is maintained throughout the day and boys are able to concentrate on achieving their very best.

Our HSC results

In its earliest years, St Joseph’s College was the most outstanding school academically in NSW, if not the country. In 1885, 30 out of 31 boys passed the Junior University Exam and gained more marks than any other school in NSW and Queensland. In 1939, John Gallagher became the first candidate from a Catholic School to obtain the highest Leaving Certificate aggregate.

The first year of the HSC in NSW in 1967 saw 14 boys, more than 10 per cent of the cohort, appear in the Order of Merit for the first 100 places in the state – five for Modern History, three for Mathematics, two for Economics, and one each for English, Science, Ancient History and French.

It was an excellent result, setting the scene for the decades ahead when, year on year, the College has produced strong HSC results that are significantly above state averages across a wide range of subjects. About one-quarter of boys consistently achieve ATARs of 90 and above, and at least 10 per cent achieve ATARs of 95 and above.

From 2015 to 2023, 57 boys have been acknowledged in the HSC All-rounders List (students who score above 90 per cent in 10 or more units) and 30 boys in Top Achievers lists (for those who are placed in a subject’s top 20 results). During the same time, the College has posted hundreds of entries in Distinguished Achievers lists for students scoring above 90 per cent in a subject. Our recent achievements can be found in the College’s published Achievement Reports.

In our most recent results, Dux Benjamin Sestanovic achieved an ATAR of 99.95, with second place in the cohort, Finan Maher, achieving an ATAR of 99.85 as well as first in the state for Modern History.

The College continues to make learning gains across the board and is committed to the academic development of every student. Boys of all abilities are given the assistance they need to flourish in the classroom and beyond. Learning difficulties are addressed immediately and challenges that both stimulate and inspire are provided.

These measures ensure students are always progressing and have the best chance of succeeding in their studies.


St Joseph’s College provides a broad curriculum which seeks to:

  • Foster and challenge the creativity, initiative and ability of all students.

  • Provide structures that enable students to study in the areas and levels most appropriate to their abilities, needs and interests.

Boys in Years 7 and 8 study a common curriculum comprising Religious Education, English, Mathematics, Science, Technology, History, Geography, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE), Music and Visual Arts. Students have a choice of study in four languages – French, Latin, Japanese and Mandarin. Students also undertake an Outdoor Education program at the College’s Outdoor Education Centre, Colo.