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The origin of the School lies in a Crown grant in 1845 for the establishment of a school in Elizabeth and Castlereagh Streets in Sydney "to be used in connection with the United Church of England and Ireland". This became the St. James' School. The Government later
resumed the School's land and passed the St. James' School Compensation Trust Act of 1886. This provided the funds for the foundation of a church school, in order to perpetuate the original Crown grant and its purpose.
The School's Charter provided for the erection of "A school of the highest type, including departments of education for all classes of the community, in which the teaching shall be throughout in accordance with the principles of the Church of England, and which shall be placed under the direction of a governing body of clergy and laity to be elected by the Synod, the Bishop of the Diocese being ex-officio President". The Act also provided that the compensation moneys should be paid to that Council, to be applied in the establishment and maintenance of the School. The School was founded with the resultant 31,164 pounds. The official opening took place on Saturday, 4 May 1889.
The School's Governing Council now consists of the Archbishop of Sydney and seventeen members, six clergymen and six laymen elected by the Sydney Diocesan Synod and five members elected by the Old Boys' Union of the School. The Archbishop is President of the Council.
The St. James' School Compensation Trust Act (1886) provided for the foundation "of a school of the highest type....in which the teaching shall be throughout in accordance with the principles of the Church of England".
Verses from the School Psalm and the School Lesson express the basis on which this teaching rests:
"Even he that leadeth an uncorrupt life;
and doeth the thing which is right and speaketh the truth from his heart."
"For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps."
(1 Peter 2:21)
Thus it is clear that this is a Church School. It was founded to give boys a good education based upon Christian practices and principles. These are constantly enunciated in every aspect of School life. The School expects that in their bearing and conduct boys will appreciate and live up to these concepts. It is the aim of all concerned with the administration of the School that all boys should leave the School with a clear understanding of the obligations expected of a Christian gentleman. That which makes Shore different from many other schools is that it adheres to a Christian interpretation of life, and therefore seeks, as its primary purpose, to prepare boys for life in accordance with Christian teaching.
It is important that parents complement the School in this aim by giving full support to the rules and requirements of the School.