St James' Primary School, Muswellbrook, is a Catholic parish school situated on the western fringes of the town, on land first settled by the Wanaruah people. The school began its existence as a Catholic denominational school in the middle of a developing township in 1862. When government funding was withdrawn in 1883, the Sisters of Mercy took over responsibility for the school.
The school continued to provide a valuable Catholic education to the people of the area, until demand for places, brought on by an expansion in mining and power industries, resulted in the need for the construction of a larger school. In 1983, 100 years after the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy, the present primary school of 14 classrooms, chapel and other amenities was opened.
The Sisters of Mercy continued their mission in St James’ until 1972. The Sisters of St Joseph continued the important job of providing a Catholic education from 1973 until 1991 when the first lay principal was appointed. St James’ is proud of its dual heritage and encourages students and their families to incorporate these values and ideals into daily life.
Religious symbols, both traditional and contemporary, are visible throughout the school environment and each classroom has a prayer focus space. Prayer is a valued part of each day and the students experience formal as well as informal prayer opportunities.
The school Mission Statement reflects St James' role as a community of Catholic faith. The school believes that St James’ reflects the light of Christ, committed to quality learning, helping others, respect for all, being in partnership with the community, focusing towards achievement and together striving for excellence as we nurture the whole person.
St James’ is supported by a full-time Clerical Assistant, who is the first point of contact for parents at the school. A Regional Network Administrator and Learning Technology Education Officer assists with all things technology in the school. The Teacher Librarian and Library Assistant manage the student library and staff resources. Our Learning Support Teacher, Leading Teacher in Literacy and Numeracy K-6, and Learning Support Assistants assist with the diverse learning needs of students. The Aboriginal Education Teacher and Pastoral Care Worker further assist students and families with individual needs. The school have a Groundsman who maintains the expansive grounds of St James' and a Canteen Supervisor who runs the canteen three days per week.
St James' has many amenities including a large front oval, soccer fields, cricket pitch, netball and basketball courts, fixed equipment and a multi-purpose assembly hall. The school also have a computer lab and a learning centre fully equipped with a library, iPads and computers. All computers are networked and online.
The school has a firm commitment to creating and fostering a caring, Christian community where parents, staff and students work together in mutual support and respect. It is therefore important to take seriously the commitment to live as Christians. The school’s Religious Education program and the liturgical celebrations help to focus life on Christ and what it means to live out the school motto “Living in Christ”. St James’ continues to develop Gospel values, which will permeate every aspect of the life of the school – the curriculum, the policy and procedures and the relationships within the school community.
The education offered at St James’ is comprehensive. The NSW Board of Studies and Teaching Educational Standards curriculum forms the basis of all learning and teaching activities. This formalised curriculum is divided into seven Key Learning Areas (KLAs) of which Religious Education is one. There are many opportunities for students to be involved in sporting events as well as hands on activities in KLAs such as Maths, Science or Creative Arts. St James’ strive to provide opportunities for every child to reach their potential.
Parents and the community are very welcome to become involved in the life of St James'. They can become members of the P&F committee and help to make decisions about the running of the school, or take a less formal approach in help out in the canteen, library, gardening, classrooms or sporting activities and excursions. Everyone is made to feel welcome and their contribution is appreciated at St James'.
Students of St James' Primary School, Muswellbrook, are encouraged to continue their Catholic education by attending St Joseph's High School, Aberdeen.