Newcastle East Public School

Australia's oldest school - since 1816

Telephone02 4929 2911

About our school

Australia's oldest school, Newcastle East Public School, has served its diverse inner-city community for two centuries, and continues its important work of providing high quality, universally-accessible education for all children.

Newcastle East Public School is situated in the heart of Newcastle city. Established in 1816, it is the oldest continuous school in Australia. Housed in heritage-listed Gothic buildings, the school fosters an awareness of its central role in the history of public education in Australia. The school aims to foster and nurture development of the whole child, by catering for physical, social, emotional, creative and academic needs. Our school ethos is encapsulated by the comment: 'We are a country school in the heart of the city.' Special features of the school include parental participation, a strong emphasis on student welfare and pastoral care, availability of language programs, extensive programs in creative and performing arts including dance and band, environmental education, debating and public speaking. 

In a world of rapid change and social restructuring, there is at least the one constant value for parents - the need to give their children the best possible start in life through an education of the highest quality.

The pace of technological change makes it more necessary than ever to prepare our students for a lifetime of learning, as the way we access information, and the way we work, face constant review and re-appraisal.

Newcastle East Public School, Australia's oldest school, has as its concern the development of the whole person. At NEPS, teachers work towards the academic, moral, social, and sporting development of each pupil.

Experienced staff provide a blend of traditional and modern educational opportunities, in the heritage setting of stately buildings and landscaped grounds, in an inner-city environment.

The small size of NEPS means that staff know each student individually. With enrolments of 215 students, and just nine classes averaging around twenty four students in each, each student is valued and helped to develop full potential.

As well, the school may offer the opportunity to group students into specialised groups for Literacy and Maths lessons, using additional staff to teach "catch-up" lessons for students needing extra help, and extension lessons for students working ahead of their normal grade level.

Academic standards at NEPS are well above state averages, and a continuing program for gifted and talented students provides continued academic challenge for them. The school has a proud tradition of excellence in debating, chess, public speaking, and performing arts. Many students are able to learn an instrument at the school, the school enjoying a close working relationship with the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music. There is an active school band, rehearsing at the school before lessons, and performing publicly.

The location of the school, in The Hill district of inner-city Newcastle, serves students well. NEPS is accessible by train and bus, and the school is able to offer before and after school care for students whose parents work in the city. As well, the school can readily access the services of the city, such as museums and galleries, sporting fields, beaches, pools, and gymnasiums, and theatres, which are within a few minutes walk.

Newcastle East Public School provides a stable and safe environment, in which students achieve their potential working with caring experienced teachers.


School Vision

Our school's vision is to provide a physically and emotionally safe environment, where respect for self and others is fostered, and where the school community works together to nurture a lifelong love of learning, to enable students to meet their needs and reach their potential.


What is Valued at NEPS?

Our school community believes in the value of:-
personal effort
the worth of each member of our school community
the dignity of learning
our school and national heritage
the central role of public education in achieving social justice.


Our History

From its genesis in 1816, as a school to serve the children of convicts and early settlers in Newcastle, our school has maintained an unbroken line of service to children, stretching for almost two hundred years.

NEPS is frequently the subject of academic research, because of its pivotal role in the development of free, secular, universal public education.

Housed originally in the Vestry of Christ Church, the school grew to become independent of the Anglican Church, although our students remain frequent guests at nearby Christ Church Cathedral. The history of NEPS has reflected the development of Newcastle, seeing it through the hardships of wars and depressions.

In its time, the school has had just forty seven Headmasters.

The current site has served as a selective high school, the original Newcastle Boys' High School, as an artists' retreat, and as a public school. This late-Victorian building dates back to 1870, and has won several architectural awards for its outstanding renovation during the 1980's and 1990's. It is listed by the National Trust as a building of cultural significance.

Students study the history of the school and of inner-city Newcastle as part of their normal curriculum, and the school frequently hosts meetings of historical and heritage groups.

To celebrate its heritage, NEPS holds a Colonial Fair each several years, with re-enactments and displays, and the chance to view traditional crafts as they are done.


Our School Community

We exist to serve the children of inner-city Newcastle, but many of our families come from areas further afield. This is because we offer care for students before school and after school, as well as vacation care. Many of our parents work at inner-city work-places. Students at NEPS reflect the diversity of Australian society, with varying cultural backgrounds. There are many ethnic groups represented, some families in their third generation at the school, some First Fleeters, a small number of Aboriginal students, and a significant number of children of post-graduate university students.

There is a permanent waiting list for non-local students seeking enrolment at NEPS. The community perception of the school is extremely positive, with parents listing the small enrolment size, the "family" atmosphere, and the high standard of academic and performing arts programs as the key elements in making the school attractive.

The school works around the belief that the strong partnership between students, staff, and parents, is a vital part in achieving the best student learning. For this reason, parents are always welcome in to the school, to assist with reading groups, sport, craft or art activities, or Drama and Music. NEPS relies on the full support of parents, and the Principal encourages parent involvement in school governance. The school is supported by a School Council, which oversees legislative or regulatory matters, and a very active Parents' and Citizens' Association. All parents' views are seriously considered, and parents are surveyed regularly to assess their perspectives on school performance.


Mr Mick McCann, Principal of Newcastle East Public School, has taught in public schools for over 20 years and this is his first appointment as a principal. He had previously spent 10 years as Assistant Principal and Relieving Principal at Malabar Public School. Mr McCann is committed to public education, and the opportunities it provides to all students, regardless of their background.

After completing high school at Armidale High, Mr McCann completed a Diploma of Education and then Bachelor's degree in Teaching. After teaching in classrooms and having some leadership opportunities, Mr McCann completed a  Masters in Educational  - School Leadership.


All staff are dedicated professionals whose concern is to provide the highest quality tuition to every student. The staff want to see their pupils grow into young adults with a passion for learning and a thorough preparation for their continued education in secondary school and beyond.

By pursuing their own continual professional development, and by constantly acquiring new skills for classroom use, staff model to students the lifelong nature of learning. NEPS is fortunate in having a settled staff, with individual teachers developing specialisations in working with particular grades or stages of learning.

NEPS Special Programs

Performing Arts

There is a long-established tradition at NEPS of music and theatre. All students in the school are involved in this program, which provides tuition and experience in the areas of Drama, Choir, Dance, and Instrumental Music. These activities culminate every second year in our Celebration Night, which includes every student in the school in a grand-scale public performance. In this we are aided by parents with specialist skills, including actors, a playwright, sound engineers, and musicians.

Many students also undertake individual study of an instrument at school. Music lessons are arranged through the nearby Conservatorium, with tuition taking place at the school, and instrument hire and lesson fees kept to a minimal level. Many of these students move on to the School Band to further their musical education. Students from beginner's level on are accommodated by this program.


All students receive part of their tuition through Information Technology, with computers in use from almost the first day of school. By Grade Six, students are able to independently work in many areas with computers, including researching information, corresponding electronically, and word-processing. Each classroom is equipped with three or four computers, and the school has set up a central Computer Room as well, to facilitate group lessons on specific computer skills.

Gifted and Talented Students

Special classes are conducted in the Senior School for exceptionally bright students. These are designed to extend the thinking of these students, and are structured around developing various cognitive skills, such as lateral thinking, analytical thinking, and critical thought.

School Terms

NEPS is committed to the provision of four ten-week terms of quality instruction each year. Attendance at school is a serious matter, and parents should not condone absence for trivial reasons, such as birthdays, holidays, etc, which inevitably see students falling behind. As staff carefully prepare each lesson, so parents should present the school experience as vital.