St Felix Catholic Primary is one of Australia's oldest Catholic schools. It began in 1853 when the local area was called Irishtown and Sydney had yet to be organised into parishes.
St Felix began as a small elementary school taught by lay teachers and supported by school fees and some government funding. In the 1870s government requirements became stricter and by 1883 funding to private schools was abolished. So for the first three decades St Felix School had a precarious existence, constantly closing and reopening.
Archbishop Moran sought help from Mother Mary MacKillop, and in 1887 the Josephite Sisters took control of the school, which then had about 40 pupils. In 1889 a convent, which also accommodated some boarding students, was added, but numbers remained low. Classes were conducted in the original St Felix Church.
The Parish of Bankstown was established in 1916 and enrolments then increased significantly to over 400 in 1940 — girls from Kindergarten to sixth Class and boys to third Class. What was known as the ‘Cardboard School’ was built in 1937 to accommodate increasing numbers, especially post-World War II migrants from Europe, many of these from Poland.
The population of the area continued to grow through natural increase and continued extensive immigration, with Lebanese Catholics settling in large numbers. By 1960 there were 804 students in the primary school alone and over 200 girls continuing to Third Year secondary (Intermediate). A staff of thirteen Sisters and two lay teachers struggled with bulging classes with an average of over 60 pupils per class!
The 1960s was a crisis period for Catholic schools in Australia as enrolments increased and there was minimal government funding to pay for teachers and buildings. As well, the new Wyndham Scheme reforms required an extra year in secondary school. Catholic authorities decided to rationalise their schools, and so the secondary section of St Felix was phased out in the late 1960s.
Conditions then improved as enrolment pressure eased and substantial government funding was re-established. This allowed for the employment of more lay teachers and eventually, in 1983, the Josephites Sisters ended their eighty-year leadership and involvement at St Felix.
The Catholic Education Office appointed Mrs Shirley Jackson as the first lay Principal of the school in this century. This appointment also reflected the fact that St Felix was an integral part of the Archdiocesan system of schools.
Since 1990, boys have continued their education at St Felix to Year 6. St Felix continues to progress as a modern, well resourced systemic school catering for boys and girls from Kindergarten to Year 6, staffed by a team of highly trained and enthusiastic lay teachers.
At present there are just over 420 students in our school.