The parish of Holy Family opened initially in 1953, with an open air mass celebrated on Christmas Eve attended by over 1,500 people. An army hut was then donated and transported to the site and was used for masses and as a gathering place for the community. Officially, Holy Family Primary school was registered and opened in 1955 with 180 P-4 students, the overwhelming majority of the younger students could not speak English. The school consisted of 3 classrooms and a sanctuary. The army hut was used for the younger students.
The building was a school during the week and a centre for Mass and community events at the weekend. Friday afternoon was spent packing up the classrooms and pulling up the roller doors to make the space ready for use on the weekend. Masses were conducted in Latin by Father Kelly and in Ukrainian and Lithuanian, Croatian, Polish, Slovenian and German at different times on the Sunday throughout the month, catering for the post-war immigrants who settled in the area.
In 1974 the new church was built with the help of the community and the renovations in the ‘church classrooms’ included the removal of the roller doors.
When the school opened it had children from twenty-one different nationalities. It was affectionately known as “Little Europe’’. Father Kelly, the first parish priest was multilingual, speaking 21 different languages, and was present during the enrolment process to translate and welcome the families to the parish and the school.
The Sisters of Mercy were initially invited to teach the children of Holy Family and they remained in the school until the year 2000, when the Mercy Order handed over the administration to a lay principal. Lay Teachers were first employed in 1956 to teach the younger students. Once a week, a PE teacher came to the school. All the children gathered together to do exercises for a half an hour.
In 1958 another 4 classrooms were added to Holy Family as a separate block to cater for increasing enrolments, Holy Family now had 380 students with class sizes ranging between 50 and 60 students. A statue of the Holy Family was ordered from Italy and made from Carrara marble. It still stands at the entrance to the school.
Additional buildings were added in 1979 which joined the two buildings to create staff and student toilets and a library space. The original toilets standing out in the middle of the yard were demolished.
In 1971 the land behind the school was levelled and a new sports oval was created.
In 1981 a bi-lingual program in Croatian was introduced at Holy Family to cater for the large number of enrolled Croatian children whose second language was English.
1982 saw the construction of Holy Family’s Art Room. The Hut which was being used as an art room was then returned to its original owners.
1983 the community language program expanded to include Italian, Polish and Croatian, giving the children a choice of learning a second language.
The Mercy Room (Multipurpose Room) was built in 2004 which allowed for a space where the whole school could gather together indoors as well as a space where the parish community could gather for social events and meetings.
Over the years, the number of classes has increased from 7 to 17 with combinations changing from single stream classes to multi age groupings: Prep, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6. Class sizes also changed to an average of 23 students. The children now sit at tables instead of sitting at desks which is more conducive to current trends for learning.
As part of the Building Education Revolution the Learning Centre was built in 2012. At this time it housed the library, an audio visual room and several learning spaces.
Refurbishment of the original school began in 2021, retaining the original outside walls but modernising the inside.
Holy Family strives to provide an environment that is safe, flexible and inclusive and which fosters collaboration and creativity. The student wellbeing program which utilises aspects of Restorative Practices and Circle Time is aimed at engendering a climate of mutual respect, trust and responsibility where students develop a sense of belonging and attachment to school. Students are provided with opportunities for engagement in many active and passive leisure activities.
In recent years the main school building has been refurbished. A learning centre comprising a library, four learning areas and a theatre room was built with funding from the BER capital grant. The front entry to the school was rebuilt and the three north eastern classrooms were extended and transformed into a flexible learning space. There has also been a beautification program involving landscaping, fencing and tree planting to the school grounds with major funding from the Parents and Friends’ Association.
The 2021 student enrolment of Holy Family School covers more than 28 nationalities. The students are grouped across four learning areas including Prep Learning Area (Foundation), Junior Learning Area (Years 1/2) , Middle Learning Area (Years 3/4) and Senior Learning Area (Years 5/6).
Principals of Holy Family School
1955-1956 Sister Mary Concepta Hay
1956-1957 Sister Ruth Boucher
1957-1959 Sister Mary Thomasina Harrington
1959-1961 Sister Mary Austin Curthoys
1961-1962 Sister Mary Fidelis Harford
1962-1965 Sister Mary of Mercy Cleary
1965-1968 Sister Mary Adalbert Harris
1968-1971 Sister Kathleen Dillion
1971-1977 Sister Johanna O’Dea
1977-1978 Sister Marion McDonald
1978-1983 Sister Joan Sibberas
1984-1986 Sister Mary Catherine Daley
1987-1993 Sister Kathleen Mangan
1994-1999 Sister Rose McGiffin
2000-2007 Mr Frank Kearney
2008-2014 Mr Brian Everett
2015 Mr Paul McBride and Ms Trish Moloney
2016-2022 Mr Peter Brunt