Celebrating 30 years and beyond

Over the past 30 years Port School has evolved from the relatively simple idea of an alternative community-based education, to a multifaceted, wrap-around service for our community’s most vulnerable and at risk youth.

The teenage journey can be challenging for any young person. Navigating adolescence, coupled with difficult home circumstances, limited opportunities and, for some, the lack of strong adult role models, creates a disorienting experience for our young people who, in many cases, fall into a spiral of rejection, failure and isolation.

Port offers a learning environment that is an alternative for students needing a different kind of school. We value community to build a sense of belonging, empowerment to engender a strong and positive sense of self, diversity to ensure there is a valued place for everyone and growth that helps to map a pathway toward personal success.

“It takes a village to raise a child”. This African proverb suggests that it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children, in order for a young person to experience and grow in a safe environment.

We often refer to our school as a village, a family of carers looking out for one another, uncovering talents, discovering gifts and sparking a lifelong love of learning and purposeful engagement, in the quest for meaningful life journeys.


Anne M Gee B Ed, ECE, Dip Teach, ECE/HPE
Port School Chair
Education and Strategic Planning Consultant

Milestones in Port School’s History


  • Port Community High School is established in Leake Street, Fremantle.
    It is incorporated by a group of parents as an independent high school, based on the freedom-of-expression principles of Summerhill School in England.
  • Kirsty Sadler is the first teacher.

1993 – 15th February

  • Port Community High School opens to students at 15 Leake Street.

1993  – December

  • Ms. Margaret Payne is appointed as Co-ordinator.
    The school is small, with about 50 students.

1995  – June

  • The school moves temporarily to premises at 178 Forrest Street, Palmyra, but has the opportunity to buy a building (former squash courts) on Carrington Street in Hamilton Hill, made possible by a loan from AISWA and a grant from the State Government.


  • The school moves into the new premises, after conversion of the squash courts to school classrooms.
  • Mr. Kevin Gillan is appointed Principal.
  • The School’s mission evolves to focus specifically on children at risk.


  • Mr. Jim Cregan replaces Mr. Gillan as Principal.
  • Student numbers remain small, as there is little special funding available for disadvantaged youth.


  • Ms. Jane Hawdon is appointed Principal.
  • Enrolment numbers are up, but fee structure is not following suit and there is little money for curriculum materials.
  • Port Community High School encompasses the seven principles of the curriculum framework.

2001 – 2002

  • A new timetable and learning program is introduced and real life learning groups are set up.
  • An independent education audit is undertaken and a 5-year strategic plan is devised.
  • The Principal’s role becomes a full-time position for the first time.
  • Major capital works are completed – “The Lantern Roof”.
  • Artificial wetlands are created with $1000 prize money won from the Australian Conservation Volunteers Award.
  • The Wheeler Road Olive Grove is planted with support of Cockburn City Council.
  • In discussions held throughout the year with Education Minister, Alan Carpenter, the seeds are sown for the philosophy of what would soon be termed CARE Schools (Curriculum and Re-engagement in Education), recognising of the value of of such schools and the need for a new funding model for them.


  • Ms. Jane Hawdon resigns to take up an academic fellowship at ECU.

2003 – 2010

  • Dr. Peter Roguszka is Principal.
  • The term CARE School (Curriculum and Re-engagement in Education) is coined under the Education Ministry of Alan Carpenter, to describe the four AISWA schools in WA that cater for young people identified as being at significant educational risk.
  • Port School receives additional Federal and State funding which assists in the development of a workshop, kitchen and art facilities, and the hiring of specialist teaching staff.


  • The Constitution is amended.
  • Port Community High School formally becomes Port School.
  • Dr. Peter Roguszka resigns.

2010 – present

  • Mr. Barry Finch is Principal. Under his tenure the school expands in several areas, and receives additional funding from the Federal Government’s  “Building the Education Revolution” program.


  • Mr. Mike Gilbert initiates a Sister School relationship with Klang Special School, Malaysia, with assistance of Apex International. This develops into a longterm collaboration and lays the foundation for the Port School Student Leadership Program.


  • An opportunity arises to acquire neighbouring premises for an Early Learning Centre and adjacent Young Parent Centre. The centre opens in 2015, and by 2016 have a full complement of young mothers completing their education while their babies and toddlers are cared for and given an early education next door.


  • The Mobile Classroom Program is established, an initiative seeking to meaningfully engage some of the most marginalised and disengaged young boys.
  • Port School becomes a Registered Training Organisation, accredited to deliver nationally recognised Vocational and Educational Training (VET) courses. Port now has the capacity to train senior students to attain job-ready qualifications and assist with their transition to the workplace.


  • Port applies for renewal of registration which is granted for four years commencing 1 January 2017 and expiring 31 December 2020.


  • Following negotiations with Main Roads Department, adjacent land is leased for sporting facilities, additional car parking and a vehicle store.
  • Student numbers climb from 45 in 2010 to over 100 enrolled in 2018.


  • Port School celebrates 25 years of “Making a Difference” to students at risk, nurturing them and helping them to achieve their rightful place in the community.
  • Port’s new website goes live in October 2018.


  • Port School’s new Administration Block with reception, meeting room and a new office for the Principal is completed for the start of the 2019 school year.
  • The Port Middle School is established for the commencement of the 2019 school year and moves into a newly-built classroom for Term 2.
  • Port’s long awaited state-of-the-art fitness centre opens its doors at the start of Term 2.
  • The Constitution is amended to comply with the Associations Incorporations Act 2015 (WA).
  • Student numbers reach 130.


  • A planned extension to the Young Parent Centre is completed during the Summer Holidays and the new-look centre re-opens its doors for the start of the 2020 school year.
  • Port School creates a new suite of counselling rooms and opens Student Support Services, reinforcing the School’s commitment to ensuring that all students receive health and wellbeing services that are accessible and inclusive of all individuals, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic takes hold around the world. During lockdown, Port School remains open to ensure a safe haven to those most at risk who may not have safe place during the day.
  • International borders close due to the pandemic, causing the cancellation of the Malaysia Program for the foreseeable future.
  • Port embraces the Microsoft Office 365 suite with the aim to facilitate a remote learning model for possible future lockdowns.
  • Port applies for renewal of registration which is granted for five years commencing 1 January 2021 and expiring 31 December 2025.


  • A planned extension to Port’s kitchen/canteen and toilet block commences in December 2020 and finally opens for Term 2 2021. Port now boasts a state-of-the-art facility which is also a training space for the school’s popular Hospitality Certificate course.
  • Port purchases the adjacent property at 58 Wheeler Road in July, the final piece of land missing from the school’s physical footprint. Construction of a new Middle School complex is due to commence in early 2022.


  • Demolition of 58 Wheeler Road, the location of Port School’s new Middle School complex, finally gets underway in early May.
  • The ongoing pandemic creates instability in the construction industry due to lack of tradespeople and interruptions to the supply chain, resulting in soaring building costs.  The Port School Board and Management remain confident they will still complete the planned Middle School project in time for the start of the 2023 school year.
  • Principal Barry Finch is awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honour Awards for 2022. He was honoured for services to at-risk youth and to education. Barry’s vision for the School and his single-mindedness to build something exceptional resulted in a very special school, one that was and still is for many students the family they lack or the support they and their families dearly need.
  • Student numbers exceed 140.


  • The new Middle School Complex opens its doors to students on Thursday 2 February 2023, initially with 2 classrooms in operation. This state-of-the-art facility takes Port’s offerings to a new level.  It is officially opened by the Federal Member for Fremantle, Josh Wilson, on the 18 May 2023.
  • In conjunction with Murdoch University Port introduces FlexiTrack High. The program is designed to help students develop the skills needed to succeed at university and offers an alternative option to the ATAR pathway. Three students successfully complete the program and become the first Port students to transition directly from school into university.
  • Following a 3-year hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Port’s overseas excursion to Malaysia was reinstated. Staff members Mike Gilbert and Dionne Garvey escorted 9 students on a life-changing trip to Malaysia and Klang Special School.
  • Matt Hopkins, Head of Port’s Middle School, is recognised for his commitment to transforming the lives of at-risk and disengaged students facing educational, social, emotional, and behavioural challenges.  He is awarded a NEiTA Foundation 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award. This award received over 2500 nominations nationwide.

Providing a real alternative for adolescents who need a different kind of school.

(08) 9335 6323