A new school for Hornsby

The purpose of this site is to provide information about a proposal to establish a small community preschool and school at 1 Rosemead Road Hornsby.

In August 2019, Blue Gum Community School Canberra took a leap of faith and purchased 1 Rosemead Road. The purchase reflected the school's intention to re-imagine the stunning heritage listed home and gardens of Mount Errington as a small preschool and primary school for the children of the Hornsby community.

Situated on over 3600sqm, on a site with more than 230 stunning trees, and surrounded by established gardens, Blue Gum immediately recognised Mount Errington as an ideal place for children to play and learn together.


We want to breathe life into this beautiful home, opening it up to be enjoyed by the wider community, in a respectful and sensitive manner.

Maureen Hartung, Executive Director, Blue Gum Community School


House in 1947. Photograph by Ralph Hawkins

Original owners Oscar and Anne Roberts

Portrait of Oscar Garibaldi Roberts. Artist - George Lambert

Advertisement for land auction in 1896. Photo from the National Library of Australia

Mount Errington

Stepping back in time

Mount Errington, built in 1897 for the Roberts family, is the chosen site for the proposed school. The home and gardens at 1 Rosemead Road are steeped in significance as one of the original homes of Hornsby.

The original features of the home, largely intact from its original build, were a major drawcard influencing the school’s decision to purchase the property. We love the history of the house, gardens and surrounding area.

The house in its current design is an ideal layout for a school, with no changes to the original footprint needed. All the amazing features will be celebrated, highlighted, protected, or restored.

We plan to honour the heritage visibly in shared stories from the children, signage, and in the maintenance of the property. What a joy it will be for the gates to be opened, not to another private resident, but to the community and children of the Hornsby Shire. 

Blue Gum also chooses to respectfully acknowledge the First Nation's Peoples - past, present, and emerging - as the traditional custodians of the land on which Mount Errington was built. May we care for the land, and for the people who meet in this place, in a manner that gives honour to our nation's first peoples.


What a joy it will be for children to be able to dwell and learn in a setting of such significance.

Jill McLachlan, Education Director, Blue Gum Community School Hornsby


The Proposal

9 March 2021 - IPC Grants Development Consent to Blue Gum Community School

A Development Application was submitted to Hornsby Shire Council in December 2019, outlining the details of our proposal to establish a low-fee, not-for-profit community school in the region, providing education for children in Preschool (32 places for 3-5 year olds) and Primary School (48 places for 5 to 8 year olds). 

In March 2020, it was identified that our application to open a new school in NSW must be overseen by the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE), and not by Hornsby Shire Council. This newly assessed classification required us to withdraw our current Development Application and resubmit our proposal as a State Significant Development (SSD). The feedback received from various people and organisations, both formally and informally, will not be lost as a result of this change. We have collated both the feedback submitted to the Council and information shared with us directly, to be provided as a part of our new application as a SSD.  You can review all the current project documents on the DPIE major projects website by clicking here.

Our SSD was referred to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) in February 2021 and is listed on the IPC website. A Public Meeting was held about the proposal on 10 February 2021. A full transcript from the meeting is available on our project page.

On 9 March 2021 the IPC granted development consent to Blue Gum Community School to proceed with the project. You can read the official media release by clicking here

A huge thank you to the many close neighbours, educators and other community members who have been sending us messages of support in various ways. We have included just a sampling of the letters of support, on this website, for your reference.

For those interested in responses to commonly asked questions about the proposal, you can find this additional information on our FAQs page.


Our Approach

Teaching and learning at Blue Gum Community School

Blue Gum adopts a personalised, strengths-based approach to education where every student can be successful. Our smallness is our strength. Students’ individual interests and passions drive their learning, opening up unlimited research possibilities.

At Blue Gum we invite children to pursue deep understandings and knowledge through questioning, research and collaborative projects. We see even our youngest children as citizens of the present - citizens with rights and responsibilities. 

We prefer to walk closely alongside students, instead of standing up the front, lending them strategies and skills along the way. Our approach recognises children as budding mathematicians, writers, scientists, artists, thinkers and more. We have a strong arts focus, integrating the arts as crucial languages for understanding and interpreting the world.

Blue Gum Community School highly values our Australian context, environment and inheritance, whilst also connecting globally – sharing with, and learning from, educators from around the world.


Meet Our Team


Jill McLachlan

Education Director
Blue Gum Community School Hornsby

Jill McLachlan is an experienced educator, author and influencer in early childhood, primary and special education. Through her business, The Curious Teacher and her co-authored book, Unearthing Why: Stories of thinking and learning with children, she has consulted to schools right across Australia. She is a local to the area, having lived in Normanhurst for the past 15 years. Jill is responsible for the proposal to establish a new preschool and primary school on the site of Mount Errington in Hornsby.


Maureen Hartung OAM

Executive Director
Blue Gum Community School

Maureen Hartung is the Founder and Executive Director of Blue Gum Community School in Canberra. She has been leading her team at Blue Gum Community School for the past 22 years. The school’s hands-on approach to learning offers children an opportunity to learn in ways, often talked about, but rarely practiced. In 2016 Maureen’s contribution to education was recognised with the Order of Australia Medal.


Get in Touch

Thank you for taking the time to read about our proposal. If you would like additional information regarding the development application don't hesitate to get in touch. 

Families and educators are welcome and encouraged to submit expressions of interest in the school and ask questions. We will endeavour to respond to you in a timely manner. Please let us know if you would like to be added to a mailing list to be notified when our application and enrolment process opens.

Please note: 

We are not yet in a position to take enrolments or to collect details about your family and your child. Expressions of interest in no way form the basis of a waiting list or application for a place at Blue Gum Community School Hornsby.

Thanks for submitting!

1 Rosemead Road

Hornsby NSW 2077