Welcome to senior school

Senior school is a busy time, as students pursue more opportunities, keep on top of their study schedules and take an increasingly active role in their learning.

As they build further academic and personal strength, our strong support and tailored, individual guidance ensures they can maintain balance and remain engaged in their journey to final exams and ultimately, life beyond school.

Effort with balance

Working hard

Working hard is what we do at St Catherine’s — students want to do well and are prepared to invest in their studies to make this happen, and our results reflect this: each year, more than 50 per cent of our Year 12 cohort achieve ATARs over 90, placing them in the top 10 per cent of the state.

This culture of hard work is driven by our emphasis on academic rigour: we push students beyond their comfort levels when it comes to academic development — and we want them to ‘feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable’, embracing the challenge and building character.

Staying well

While we want to see students strive for excellence in their learning, our ethos is one of balance, not burnout.

We ensure girls balance academic study with appropriate time for reflection, rest, socialising and exercise, and the programs we have in place whether it be wellbeing, sport or activities beyond the curriculum fully embrace this balanced culture of learning. 

We want our students to study courses that interest them, challenge them and ultimately allow them to achieve their personal best: celebrating success is not just for those who win competitions or come first or receive a mark over 90 per cent; we celebrate the personal achievements of all students.

Guidance and support

Academic coaching

Perhaps unique to St Catherine’s is the individual coaching that every Year 12 student has access to.

Each student is linked to a senior member of staff and they meet on a fortnightly basis, more often on occasion. In these mentoring sessions they discuss goal setting, assess performance and identify any current study concerns. 

Supportive team

From Year 7, girls are supported by a dedicated team that helps them to focus on the challenges and outcomes of their senior school years. Class sizes mean students receive rich and regular feedback from their teachers within a valuable, productive and purposeful relationship.

Holistically, the most important part of this structure is that students feel well-supported: they have another go to person who understands their progress and is there to support them on their HSC journey. 

Forming beneficial relationships


Our teachers pride themselves in knowing each student well: their strengths and weaknesses, abilities and challenges, and use data and the latest research to inform their practice.

Teachers have a concentrated block of time each fortnight to analyse students’ results and then form small groups for masterclasses so they can hone a particular skill or knowledge area together.


Each student can work with a teacher to design an increasingly individualised program of study that works to her strengths and interests, and through this productive student-teacher relationship she will be both supported and challenged in her learning program.

The academic program

Each year we offer nearly 40 courses on which senior students can form their HSC pattern of study, and we support them in making subject choices that reflect their individual learning style.

With everything from English, Mathematics, Science, Technology, Music, Visual Arts, Chinese and History on offer, girls build a program that feeds their strengths and prepares them well for life.

Within this is a strong STEM culture building the mindsets vital for a world that needs innovative and creative thinkers.


Design, innovate, create.

We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that to help shape it will need a strong grounding in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Under the Director of STEM and Innovation, we ensure our students have every opportunity to extend themselves with diverse programs and experiences that will prepare them well for life beyond school.


St Cathodes is our senior school robotics club. Its dynamic thinkers have competed for the last five years in the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), one of the major robotics competitions for high school students in the world. 

Years 7–10 curriculum

Mandatory subjects

A students pattern of study is formed from a selection of mandatory and elective courses that are dependent on the academic requirements of the year group.

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History
  • Chinese or French
  • Music
  • Technology
  • Visual arts
  • Geography
  • Biblical studies


Across Years 7-10 students can select the following elective courses:

  • Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin or Spanish
  • Music
  • Visual arts
  • History (elective)
  • Commerce
  • Design and technology
  • Food technology 
  • Information and software technology
  • Drama
  • Applied STEM
  • Physical Activity and Sports Studies (PASS)

Years 11 and 12 curriculum

Preparing for the HSC

The final two years of study are focused on preparation for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) – with continued emphasis on deepening academic learning and improving the ability to apply strategies and critical thinking.

An engaging choice

Girls can choose from nearly 40 courses​, with many of those available at extension levels and teachers work closely with every senior student to ensure their subject choices will provide the best pathway to the post-school programs they wish to pursue. 

Why languages?

Improving thinking ability

Research shows language study helps improve higher order thinking skills including abstract and creative thinking. 

In Year 7, girls study Latin which they can complete to HSC level. We then introduce other languages and encourage students to continue with one or two of them through to HSC level, choosing from:

  • Latin from Year 7
  • French or Chinese from Year 7
  • Japanese or Spanish from Year 8

Globally enriching

St Catherine’s can provide some support to a student if she chooses to study a language with either a family or personal significance outside our curriculum. 

Additionally, as part of our language exchange program, she can choose to have an immersive language experience to France, Germany, Spain or Japan.

Beyond the Curriculum

BTC is our extra-curricular program offering a whole world of opportunity full of sport, arts and adventure — a wide range of activities that foster teamwork, motivation, learning and leadership.

Its primary purpose is to complement and enhance students’ experiences by encouraging participation, fun, friendship and learning that extends outside the classroom, and invites students to discover new passions and develop lifelong skills to support them through their academic career and beyond.

Develop a range of skills

A program for life

BTC courses help girls develop a range of life skills including leadership, decision making, taking responsibility, commitment, motivation and teamwork​.

Our extensive BTC program provides many avenues for girls to find new interests and develop their abilities in areas beyond academic study. Through engaging in sports, clubs, music and wider activities, girls build their self-confidence, social awareness and a positive mindset.

A wide range of courses

We offer a wide range of activities to spark every girl’s passion and develop her abilities.

  • Artistic Gymnastics
  • Ballet
  • Chess
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Tennis
  • Visual arts
  • Yoga

Duke of
Edinburgh Award

A journey of self-discovery

From Year 9, students are eligible to join the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. 

A self-development program for all young people, the ‘Duke of Ed’ encourages goal-setting and achievement at a level appropriate for each individual, and is highly regarded by many universities and employers. 

Students explore their full potential and find their purpose, passion and place in the world. On the way they learn new skills, improve their physical wellbeing and experience an adventure in a new environment. 

Structured and immersive

The Award runs over three levels — bronze, silver and gold — each made up of four interrelated pillars:

  • Community service
  • Skills
  • Physical recreation
  • Adventurous journey

Through these, students learn to take responsibility for their goals and choices, become connected to and actively engaged within their immediate community, learn important life skills and increase their career opportunities.

Invaluable Academic Care program

Senior girls meet greater challenges and need to be able to cope with academic and personal development in a time of great change, and maintain a positive mindset.

Typically, this is what a wellbeing program is put in place to manage. However, at St Catherine’s, we provide more than standard wellbeing initiatives – we offer complete care, or as we call it, Academic Care.

Our Academic Care program is structured around our school values and hones individual strengths to help develop strong connections to others, build a capacity for resilience in adversity, perseverance through challenge and optimism for the future.

Focusing on strengths to flourish in school and life

Developing character strengths

St Catherine’s uses the VIA character strengths as the foundation of our academic care program and we believe that by focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses, students will flourish.

We start building every student’s character strengths from Kindergarten and continue all the way through junior school in preparation for transition to senior school. Through her time we show her how to harness her bravery, creativity and curiosity and develop her senses of gratitude, leadership, and perseverance.

Our ultimate aim is for her to use the skills she develops to lead a fulfilled and purposeful life.

Share experiences, build connections and develop skills

Mentor groups

At their start in senior school, students join a house-based mentor group with the overall aim of building connections and social interaction. This mentor network forms part of our Academic Care program and is applied at all levels including assemblies, year meetings and house meetings.

The groups meet twice a week to share experiences and insights, build rapport and develop meaningful relationships between students. These groups and wider house activities are a great way to feel connected to peers and the school and students get real benefit from collaborating and working across year groups.

As senior students progress through their year levels, they can step up to lead their house, and further develop their skills in leadership and teamwork.

Managing challenge and maintaining balance

Extending the program

Our Academic Care program also covers a range of topics and current issues to help students develop the awareness and understanding to cope with life’s challenges and their own personal development:

  • Safe partying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Nutrition
  • General mental health awareness
  • Good health patterns – sleep, exercise, mindfulness, stress management
  • Financial literacy — superannuation, saving, budgeting, managing credit.

We have a dedicated counsellor on staff to support all students should the need arise.

Music and the Arts

Music, visual arts and drama are integral elements of life at St Catherine’s and provide senior students with a number of creative avenues to find new ways to express themselves.

From choirs, group lessons and private study in music, to developing their abilities in the visual arts and exploring physical expression in Drama, girls can find an artistic outlet that suits their personality and feeds their creativity.

Excellence in music

St Catherine’s has a reputation for excellence in music and it is valued highly across the school. Music is a compulsory subject in Year 7 and the learning of an instrument from Year 7 is highly encouraged but not compulsory.

Our HSC music cohorts are very strong and year after year our music students are recognised with honours for their achievements.

Over a quarter of our students opt for private tuition as part of our high-calibre music program. This tuition is held in the Dame Joan Sutherland Centre, with dedicated rehearsal rooms, practice studios, band room, computer lab, recording studio and fully interactive teaching areas.

A range of opportunities

Join the band

St Catherine’s offers up to 30 different ensembles so there is bound to be something that aligns with a particular interest.

Joining an ensemble provides opportunities to perform at major school events, play at local and civic functions and take part in state and national eisteddfods.

Going on tour

International tours provide girls with the opportunity to perform in some of the world’s best venues, walk in the footsteps of the great composers and work with leading instrumentalists while representing our school and Australia. 

School musicals

Both the senior and junior school prepare and conduct a highly-regarded musical every year.

Visual arts

Visual arts helps students appreciate and understand life and see the world in different ways. It offers limitless avenues to communicate and to build new connections, with opportunities to take risks and make decisions.

There are strong links between visual learning and improvement in reading and wider creativity, and we provide Visual Arts as a compulsory subject in Year 7 and an elective in Year 8 to help build problem-solving, critical and creative thinking skills.


Drama offers a creative platform for senior students to investigate the human experience, explore ideas, and engage with contemporary theatre-making practice as they build a healthy approach to creative risk-taking and broaden their knowledge of theatrical styles and forms.

The Drama department stages highly professional productions every year, providing students with opportunities to contribute meaningfully in all aspects of theatre-making. Artist-in-residency programs also forge meaningful links for our students and deepen their experiences as actors, directors, and designers for the theatre.


Senior sport plays a vital role in a St Catherine’s education, as it encourages self-discipline and teaches the fundamentals of teamwork and fair play. Even if a student has not played much sport before, there will be something to get her involved, and the opportunity to compete with many other schools.

We are proud to be the highest-ranked independent school in our area of Sydney and we also hold a high ranking in the Independent Girls Schools Sports Association competition. Running since 1922, this competition is a pathway to selection for state and national teams.

Over 22 sports on offer

Something for every student

From Year 7, senior school competitive sport is highly encouraged but not compulsory:

  • AFL

  • Athletics

  • Basketball

  • Badminton

  • Cross country

  • Diving

  • Golf
  • Gymnastics

  • Hockey

  • Netball

  • Rowing

  • Snow sports

  • Soccer

  • Surfing

  • Swimming

  • Strength and conditioning
  • Tennis

  • Triathlon

  • Touch football

  • Volleyball

  • Water polo

Elite Sport program

If a girl displays a special talent in her chosen sport, St Catherine’s can offer an Elite Sport program to help her reach her goals while balancing this with daily school life. 

The program is designed to support talented students by giving them vital tools like time management, sport psychology, resistance training and nutrition.

The Elite Sport program has many tiers, starting in Year 7 when talent is identified, and moves through to Year 12 when girls often compete at a national level. Students can join the program when they have reached a benchmark set by our head of representative sport.


Our camp program gives senior students the opportunity to push their own personal boundaries, build resilience and independence, and learn about teambuilding and leadership, relationships and friendships while challenging themselves in an unfamilar space.

Sometimes there are a few tears, most of the time laughter and squeals of excitement, lots of whispering after lights out and the joy of discovering sides of themselves they never knew were there. Going away to camp is one of the best memories they will have of their years at St Catherine’s.

Camp programs

We offer a range of exicting camps for our senior students, each providing a sense of adventure and helping to build confidence, teamwork and leadership.

Crosslands is situated besides Berowra Creek and allows access to Berowra Valley Regional Park. Students have 2 nights’ accommodation and enjoy a number of activities including an overnight canoe expedition, mountain biking, learning to climb on natural rock, discovering indigenous culture and enjoying the adrenaline rush of the Flying Fox.

Killalea State Park provides a beautiful coastal environment to participate in a wide range of activities. Students can surf the renowned break at ‘The Farm’, paddle big canoes along Minnamurra River, discover indigenous culture, mountain bike around the lagoon and hike coastal paths.

The Hawkesbury River provides a beautiful environment to experience a canoe journey and stand-up paddle boarding. While completing the journey, students will also complete the Bronze DofE Adventurous Journey requirements.

Service education

Service is one of our key values and by making a difference to the lives of others, our students receive a powerful education about the world, the voice they have in it and importantly, the influence they have to shape it.

As one part of a connected world, we think globally and act locally, helping others in many different ways that make a lifelong, positive difference to students’ perspectives and behaviours.

Broadening horizons and changing mindsets

Becoming global citizens

Senior school students undertake many fundraising and volunteer activities, and promote awareness of different causes and issues that affect our lives and those of others such as conservation, Indigenous rights, poverty, animal welfare, famine and refugee crises.

The aim is to broaden their understanding and gradually shift their mindset to a service-centred global citizen, which can lead to fulfilling careers in areas such as medicine, law and international relations, education, social justice and government.

Open Mornings

Our Open Mornings allow you to experience the magic of life at St Catherine’s for yourself and discover why we’re the right school for your family.

Open Mornings :

  • Wednesday 6 March 2024
  • Thursday 22 August 2024
Applications for senior school are currently closed for 2024 and 2025 – except for boarding and scholarships.

All at St Catherine’s School acknowledge the Bidjigal and Gadigal people, the traditional custodians of the lands on which the school sits,
and we pay our respects to Elders past and present.

We extend this respect to the continuation of the cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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