St Charles' School commenced in 1858 with an enrolment of 30 children. The original building was weatherboard (30 feet by 16

feet). The total cost was 250 pounds, of which the government gave a little less than half. The first teachers were lay teachers and were paid by the government, as this was the time before the Education Reform Act. Early teachers were Mr Sturgeon (1862) and Mrs Meikle (1863).

When State Aid was withdrawn in 1878 there was an influx of nuns and brothers of religious orders from Europe to teach in the schools. The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Brown Josephites), an Australian Order founded by Mother Mary Mackillop taught in the school from 1883-1891.

In 1892 the Little Company of Mary sisters (the Blue Nuns) arrived in Ryde from Europe to open a hospital for the insane but the prepared building was deemed to be inappropriate so they did not receive patients. The L.C.M sisters were then asked to take over St Charles' School because Cardinal Moran would not allow Catholic children to go to State schools.

The Sisters lived in great poverty and dependency. The school paid the sisters five shillings a week and Cardinal Moran gave them a cow. On Saturdays the sisters went begging in the shopping centre at Balmain to supplement their income.

Mother Antonio was one of the first sisters at Ryde. She left Europe to come to Australia believing that she was to "nurse the insane". When she arrived and found that she had to teach she was very worried about brushing up her arithmetic!

The Sisters reported, "customs in this country are strange". The teachers take the children for trips on the harbour and into the country but we have contained ours to 'tea on the lawn". It is also recorded that they arranged a little play and tableau for Christmas. They also set up a Christmas crib at St Charles and it was the first time people had seen this.

In 1898 when the L.C.M. Sisters handed the school over to the Sisters of Mercy from Parramatta there were 25 children enrolled and the building, which consisted of one slab room, was reported to be well ventilated through the roof.

In 1899 the new brick school building was commenced. The next section, a two story structure, was opened in 1938. From the 30's to the 60's the school included a Secondary Certificate there, whereas the boys went to the Patrician Brothers at Borromeo Preparatory School after Year 2. In the 1983 the new hall and library were opened and finally in 1988 eight new classrooms were built and some parts of the older school were refurbished.

The Sisters of Mercy provided dedicated leadership at St Charles until the end of 1987 when Brother Paul, a Patrician Brother was appointed as Principal. He remained until 1993 when the first lay Principal, Mrs Marge Avery was appointed.