100 years of building a community – Arden

How Arden Anglican School puts students first

Throughout 2022, Arden Anglican School – a co-educational, non-selective Anglican school located across two campuses in Beecroft and Epping – has celebrated its centenary.

Special events to mark the 100th birthday included a moving community Thanksgiving Day, a garden party for the alumni, a glittering dinner dance and the official opening of the school’s Heritage Centre, located in one of the school’s many historical buildings.

What became apparent through the celebrations was the extraordinary nature of the school’s connection with its students and staff – past and present – and its wider community of families.

Arden’s new Principal, Justin Beckett, who commenced at the start of the centenary year, has been struck by the school’s positive and loving culture.

“As a genuinely Christian community, we believe that everyone is made in the image of God and built for a hope and a purpose,” Mr Beckett said. “We enjoy the fact that every person has a unique set of God-given talents and gifts.”

Arden creates an inspiring and supportive environment where every student can thrive. This is lived out in the way that students are well known, well cared for and well taught.

Well known. Well cared for. Well taught.

It’s those three goals that have resulted in an exceptional educational environment, one that always seeks the best for each of its students, from Pre-school to Year 12.

At Arden, students thrive in a caring Christian environment where they are nurtured and challenged, both academically and beyond the classroom. And it didn’t happen by accident – the school has had a holistic focus from day one.


From its beginnings in 1922 as a campus of Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney, Arden has been a school ahead of its time. Originally owned by the Presbyterian church, in 1929 the school was sold to Emily Gurney who re-named it Arden as its location in the leafy suburb of Beecroft reminded her of ‘The Forest of Arden’ in Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.

Emily Gurney believed that education was far more than reading, writing and arithmetic. She instilled the importance of service learning and excursions that taught students about the wider community and real life.

This integrated approach is not just about the students, but the staff and wider community as well.

“The most valuable element of Arden is its student and staff culture – we like to refer to it as the ‘spirit of Arden’,” Mr Beckett said.

“The culture is warm and welcoming. Every person matters. For me, this is especially evident in our staff community. Arden teachers and support staff are empathic and compassionate. They are invested, hard-working and absolutely dedicated to the academic growth and pastoral care of each student.”


In 1946 the school was sold to the Anglican Church, and in 1976 Arden became fully co-educational. To this day, fostering an authentic and realistic environment where boys and girls grow together in understanding, friendship and character remains a key focus at Arden.

As well as being taught in Arden’s pastoral programs, the concept of healthy and respectful relationships underpins Arden’s culture of community.

“As a co-educational school, we believe in nurturing healthy relationships between girls and boys as they grow up together,” said Mr Beckett.

“It is healthy and rewarding to be a co-educational school, and a great benefit to parents who can have their sons and daughters in one school community instead of two.”


In 2003 Arden opened its Secondary Campus in Epping, completing its journey to becoming a vibrant, fully co-educational school for Pre-school to Year 12 students. The Spirit of Arden is evident across both the Junior and Secondary Campuses. It is an intangible, yet very real energy that weaves the two campuses closely together – a genuine shared sense of love, caring and community.

Arden’s centenary is not only a time to celebrate, but also a time to pause and reflect on what the future holds.

From its humble beginnings 100 years ago, Arden has grown to a roll of 975 students and 125 teaching and non-teaching staff. Its extensive, state of the art facilities are as impressive as the education it provides.

And whilst much has changed, what endures is a culture where students are well known, well cared for and well taught, a culture with people and community at its heart.

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