History of Parish and School

​​​​​​​Name of School: Immaculate Heart Catholic Primary School​​​

Date of Foundation: 1967

Founding Religious Order: This was the first school that opened in the Brisbane Archdiocese in 100 years without full-time religious staff.

Foundation Principal: Fr Gerry Ronayne with the assistance of Mrs Janis Johnson as ‘teacher- in-charge’ from 1967-1982. In 1983 Mr William Kelly was appointed as the first Principal.

Present Principal: Mr Brendan O'Reilly
​School Motto: ‘Learning with Heart”

Significant Milestones in School’s History and Points of Interest:

The Leichhardt Parish was formed in 1961 and most of the ​children of the parish attended St Mary’s or St Edmund’s schools. In 1964 Fr Gerry Ronayne wanted to open a school at Leichhardt for the children of the outer Ipswich suburb. He applied to various teaching congregations for sisters to staff the proposed school but had no luck. He then approached Archbishop Patrick O’Donnell, who had succeeded to the archdiocese following James Duhig’s death in1965, with the suggestion of starting the school with two lay women. The archbishop agreed with the proviso that there was a ‘religious presence’ in the school. Fr Ronayne approached the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at Villa Maria Nursing Home in Ipswich, having discovered that their constitution permitted instruction of the young. His invitation was enthusiastically welcomed by the sisters, who through their work in the nursing homes and retirement residences had little contact with children. In 1967 the Immaculate Heart of Mary Infant School opened with sixty-four children in two classes taught by Mrs Frances Elmore and Mrs Ellen Payne, with daily visits for religious instruction by the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. This was the first Catholic school to operate without full time religious staff in Australia for nearly 100 years.

From 1983 the school accommodated an extra grade each year until it took every class form Year One to Year Seven. Mr William Kelly was appointed as the first Principal. Prior to this appointment, Fr Gerry Ronayne and a ‘Teacher in Charge’ administered the school. In 1982 the new church was built and the former church was converted to classrooms. To cater for increased growth a new classroom block was built. The early 1990s saw a new principal, Mr Mark Rees appointed and the beginning of a continued capital building and refurbishment program. These foundation Principals have been succeeded by Mr Bailey Pashley (1996 – 2004), Mr Peter McKee (2005), Mr Brett Horton (2006 – 2009), Mrs Petrea Rawlinson (2010 - 2017), Mr Sonny Smith (2018 - 2019) and Mr Kurt Dutney (2019 - current). Immaculate Heart now caters for children from Prep to Year 6.

The whole project of establishing and sustaining Immaculate Heart School has been made possible only through the magnificent efforts of the parish and school community. The school continues to fulfil its important role of providing quality catholic education through a spirit of constructive cooperation and dedication on the part of those involved.

The original property was quite small. The side boundary fence ran along the line of trees adjacent to the school. Over the years we have been able to buy parts of adjoining properties to provide sufficient area for the Church, parking area and playground.

The whole project has been made possible only through the magnificent efforts of the parish and school community and has been marked by harmonious support and encouragement. The school will fulfil its important role of teaching, challenging and transforming the lives of our students.​

Johnson Maroon House

Janis Johnson was a teacher at Immaculate Heart School who served our community for 28 years. She began teaching at Immaculate Heart when it was an Infant School, was the ‘teacher-in-charge’ pre 1983 and contributed greatly to the growth of the school and its culture. Janis was a friendly, dedicated and faith filled teacher and we honour her as the Maroon House Patron. Sadly she lost her battle with cancer in 2008.

O’Donnell Gold House

Patrick O’Donnell was the Archbishop of Brisbane from 1965 until 1973. Archbishop O’Donnell granted permission to Fr Gerry Ronayne to open the Immaculate Heart of Mary Infant School in 1967 to be staffed by two lay teachers with Religious Sisters from Villa Maria to provide religious instruction each day. We honour him as the Gold House Patron.


1961 Leichhardt Parish was formed. The Parish plan comprised a Church (since converted to classrooms), a hall (formerly the Avon Picture Theatre) and presbytery (built by voluntary labour). Most of the children attended St Mary's or St Edmund's schools.

1964 The area under the original church was enclosed and is currently used as administration, staff room, general learning area and uniform shop.

1967 Archbishop O'Donnell granted permission for an infant school to open, staffed by two lay teachers catering for grades 1 and 2. This was the first Catholic school to operate without full time religious staff in Australia for nearly 100 years. Two religious sisters from the Villa Maria Hostel for the Aged, visited the school for religious instruction.

1978 A demountable classroom was purchased from Stafford Parish to be used as an activity room.

1979 The school catered for grade 3.

1980 A two acre property on the corner of Old Toowoomba Rd and Chubb St was purchased.

1982 A new church was built. The former church was converted to classrooms.

1983 The first grade four class began. Mr William Kelly was appointed as first principal.

1984  The first grade five began. A new classroom block was built with 3 classrooms upstairs.

1985  The first grade six began. The area under the new classrooms was enclosed to provide a classroom and library.

1986  The first grade seven began.

1991 Mr Mark Rees was appointed as principal.

1992 The 25th Jubilee of Immaculate Heart School was celebrated.

1993 The undercover area was constructed.

1995 A building refurbishment program was started.

1996 Mr Bailey Pashley was appointed as principal. The building refurbishment was completed.

1999 The school purchased the Preschool Centre on Woodford St, Leichhardt.

2000 The first Preschool class began.

2003 The new library and toilet facilities building project was started.

2004 The new library and toilet facilities building project was completed

2005 Mr Peter McKee was appointed as principal. Refurbishment of the administration, staff facilities, uniform shop and computer lab were undertaken.

2006 Mr Brett Horton was appointed as Principal

2007 The Prep Year was introduced and the Prep/OSHC building was completed.

2009 The refurbishment of classrooms was undertaken.

2010 Mrs Petrea​ Rawlinson was appointed as Principal. The new school hall building project began. A second Prep class began.

2011 The new school hall was officially opened on March 18th. A second year one class began.

2013 The extension to main classroom building was completed to add an additional classroom.

2014 The last year of year 7 students at Immaculate Heart.

2017 Brisbane Catholic Education provides a grant to the school under the "Revitalisation Project". The school was able to refurbish the Administration area and three classrooms as part of this project.

2018 Mr Sonny Smith was appointed as Principal. The Revitalisation project and the refurbishment of the Administration area and Upper Precinct classrooms were completed.

2019 The refurbishment of the Year 1 - Year 4 classrooms was completed. Two Prep classes were established and the school grew to over 200 students. Mr Kurt Dutney was appointed as Principal. 

2020 Enrolment of two Prep classes continued. 

2022 School is now 2-stream from Prep - Year 4 and single stream in Yr.5 & 6.​

2023 Term 3 Mr Brendan O'Reilly was appointed Principal​.  New extension to the library was added

Ig​age © Brisbane Catholic Education, Immaculate Heart Catholic Primary School (2023)