St Thomas More Catholic Primary School is a co-educational parish primary school owned and operated by the St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish within the Ballarat Diocese.
The St Patrick’s Parish Council, after much discussion and consultation with the parishioners, purchased five acres of land in Alfredton, on the corner of Cuthbert’s Rd and Elaine Ave, in September 1977 as the potential site for the construction of a second parish school. Approval for government funding for the new school was obtained in October 1978 and building commenced in April 1979 and the name given to the school was St Thomas More. The school was aptly named after St Thomas More, formally Lord Chancellor of England, a great scholar and genius of friendship; the philosophy of St Thomas More School captures his ideals of learning and service.
The overall aims and nature of St Thomas More Catholic Primary School were prepared by Sr. Louise Richards I.B.V.M., who was at that stage the principal of St Joseph ‘s Primary School, Ballarat. Our very existence today is due to the devotion of Sr. Louise, Fr. Frank Madden, Mr. N. Sutherland and all the members of the Parish Education Board who spent countless hours planning a new school for the Alfredton area.
The school started in its first building stage of four classrooms, two withdrawal areas, staff area and multi-purpose area on the 5th February 1980. The school’s first principal, Sr. Jacqueline McGilp I.B.V.M. and four lay staff commenced operation with a school student enrolment of ninety-four children, representing a total of sixty families from the area.
Bishop Ronald Mulkearns officially blessed St Thomas More School, quoting St Thomas More: ” I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first”, and went on to say that it was the aim of the new school and the Catholic schooling system to produce citizens like him: “The Queen’s good servants but God’s first”.
The second building stage was deemed necessary in the school’s second year of operation due to increased enrolments and was completed and opened in 1982. Stage Two of the building program incorporated a further three learning areas, staffroom and administration area. 1982 was also the year that Sr. Victor Wright I.B.V.M. became the second school principal.
As the years progressed the school continued to grow beyond the available facilities and it became evident that a third building stage was required. In 1987 Mr. Vin Dillon was appointed to St Thomas More School as the first lay principal after the Loreto Order were unable to provide any further support for the school. Mr Vin Dillon together with Fr. Brian Finnigan and the School and Parish Education Boards started work on planning the third building stage. Work on the third stage commenced in 1989 and was completed for the start of the 1990 school year. The third stage comprised four learning areas, library, multi-purpose room and extended staff and administration areas. At the time of opening the third building stage the school had an enrolment of 268 students and employed a total of fifteen staff.
In 1990 Leigh Mitchell was appointed as principal of the school and continued in this position for 17 years. Throughout this time, specialist teachers in the areas of Library, Art and Music were introduced to the school. Reading Recovery was also introduced to support children experiencing difficulties with reading and writing in grade one. The Japanese culture and language was introduced through the LOTE program for Years 3-6. The CLaSS model, and strategy for teaching Literacy, was adopted in 1998 in the Junior classes. Due to the success of this strategic approach to Literacy teaching and learning, it was later introduced to the middle and senior school.
In 2002, again due to increasing enrolments, an additional two classrooms and computer lab were constructed in a separate building at the school. With the continuing growth in enrolments over the next few years, by 2006 there were fifteen classrooms in operation.
Mr Stephen Haintz was appointed to the role of Principal at the start of the 2007 school year following the departure of Mr Leigh Mitchell who commenced at the Catholic Education Office, Ballarat. Stephen’s unexpected death at the start of 2008 meant that the Deputy Principal, Ms Rosa Tocchet, took on the role of Acting Principal for 2008. Ms Tocchet remained in the role as Principal through until the end of 2019. Upon Rosa’s retirement, Mr Simon Duffy was appointed as the new Principal of the school.
In 2012-13 we began a new journey as a Professional Learning Community (PLC). The underlying rationale, and subsequent approaches to learning has given St Thomas More Catholic Primary School an even greater focus on academic rigour; learning for ALL.
Our school motto resonates the message of St Thomas More:
‘With God first, we will live, learn and thrive.’
Throughout the decade of 2010 -2020 enrolments have remained consistent, approximately 425-430 students, and the school has maintained the operation of seventeen classrooms. Each year the school receives many requests for enrolment positions but, unfortunately, not all applications can be catered for.
In 2021 St Thomas More Catholic Primary School will move from being administered by the Parish’s Canonical Administrator to becoming governed by the company titled Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL). DOBCEL is the governing body responsible for all parish schools in the Ballarat Diocese.
While DOBCEL will act as the governing body for schools, the Principal continues to manage the day-to-day administration and operation of the school and the parish priests will continue to play a fundamental and active role in pastoral ministry in schools. The transition to the DOBCEL model of governing will bring minimal impact to students, staff and families.
Effective 2021 we will be recognised as St Thomas More Catholic Primary School.