Our History

When Canberra's population was flourishing in the 1980s, a new Anglican school was conceived to match the growth. After careful planning and consideration, Radford was created.

The school's namesake, Bishop Lewis Bostock Radford, was an advocate of modern education and passionate about schools being fair, progressive and engaging. He was a supporter of education for women and community engagement. Notably, he also revitalised the Anglican Church in the Canberra region.

Laying of the Foundation Stone on 30 April 1983
Laying of the Foundation Stone on 30 April 1983

Formally founded in 1983, the foundation stone of Radford College was laid by Bishop Cecil Warren in 1983 and the school opened its doors in 1984 with just 235 students and 15 teachers. As a school centred on inclusiveness, community, modernity and success, it grew very quickly in size and reputation.

Today, there are 2070 students enrolled from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12, with equal numbers of boys and girls across all year groups. The College is constantly developing to make sure we stay in touch with our students and the world.

Photo captions:

Opening Day, 11 February 1984
(1) Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen with Foundation Principal Mr Jock Mackinnon, AM
(2) Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen with Chairman of the Board Dr TB Millar

Radford College Principals

1983*-1988 Jock Mackinnon, AM
1989-1992 Peter Casson
1993-2000 Graeme Wigg
2001-2008 David Mulford
2009-2013 Phillip Heath
2014-current Fiona Godfrey

Radford College Board Chairs

1982*-1985 Tom (TB) Millar
1985-2003 Lawrie (LJ) Willett, AO
2003-2007 Ray Young
2008-2017 Ian Morison
2017-current Steve Baker

*Jock Mackinnon and TB Millar were appointed before the College opened.

Radford College Buildings

… and those they honour

Note that a number of Radford buildings were subsequently named in honour of significant people from the Radford community.

Browning Early Learning Centre, named for The Right Reverend George Browning, Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn
Opened and named 24 March 2006 by Bishop Browning

In his words: ‘The school community has to somehow or another make itself both aware of and be in touch with the broader demographic.’


Gibbons Pavilion, named for Vic Gibbons, Facilities Manager 1993–1995, Bursar 1995–2006

Named on Foundation Day, 7 April 2017

In his words: ‘I think we had a great staff the whole time I was there. Salt of the earth people.’


Heath Lecture Theatre, named for Phillip Heath, 5th Principal of Radford College 2009–2013
Named Foundation Day, 7 April 2017

In his words: ‘The school … found a narrative that I felt could influence the whole of the national thinking.’


Leyshon Lecture Theatre, named for John Leyshon, Deputy Principal, 1992–2012

Named 17 September 2011

In his words: ‘The title “Deputy Principal” is just a title. I’ve always been an educator… I hope my legacy to education is getting children to think, to understand, to appreciate and become fair and reasonable human beings.’


JA Mackinnon Oval, named for
Jock Mackinnon, Foundation Principal 1984–1989

Opened and named 3 December 1990

In his words: ‘As foundation members of Radford College, we wish to work in co-operation with all those who also are dedicated to the best interests of their students and we are determined to build a school which strives for excellence without elitism and a school where there is care for every individual and where there is genuine pride in achievement but never arrogance.’


Mackinnon Senior School Building - named for the Mackinnon family

Officially opened 26 September 2013, by Her Excellency The Right Honourable Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, named on Foundation Day, 7 April 2017


TB Millar Hall, named for Dr Tom Millar, Chairman of Radford’s Interim Board 1982–1984 and the first Chairman of the Radford Board 1984–1985

Opened and named 16 February 1988 by The Right Reverend OD Dowling, Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn

In his words: ‘We wanted the school to be up with the times, a school not for the 19th Century Englishman but for the 21st Century Australian. I invite you to help make it so.’


Mulford Junior School, named for Dr David Mulford, 4th Principal 2001–2008

Opened 30 April 2008, by Foundation Principal Jock Mackinnon, named 20 May 2011

In his words: ‘The pastoral arm would wrap around anyone who was struggling … Everyone was known. There was a genuine interest. You could be quirky. You could be different. You could still be part of a Radford feel. It was just a lovely school to be at.’


G Wigg Sports Centre,
named for Graeme Wigg, Foundation Deputy Principal 1983–1991 and 3rd Principal 1992–2000

Opened 2 May 1998 by Kate Carnell MLA, ACT Chief Minister, named 30 April 2002

In his words: ‘It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that schools exist for the people who are a part of them; that first and foremost Radford should be a place where students feel they belong and that we endeavour to provide a caring, safe and healthy environment where the growth and development of each individual is carefully nurtured.’


LJ Willett Performing Arts Centre, named after
Lawrie Willett AO, Chairman 1985–2003

Opened and named by Bill Stefaniak MLA, ACT Minister for Education, 6 December 1999

In his words: ‘The curriculum and co-curricular programs at Radford are designed to meet the future needs of students. It would be foolish to pretend that the future can be predicted with precision. However, we firmly believe that a sound and broadly based education which is based on individual and community needs is the best possible basis for educating future generations of Australians.’


RA Young Hall, named after Ray Young, Board Member 1992–2008, Chairman 2003–2008

Opened and named 30 April 2008 by Foundation Principal Jock Mackinnon

In his words: ‘We have three lovely kids. The reason they’re such lovely kids is their mother and their school.’


The Morison Centre, named after
Ian Morison, Board member 1990–1997, 2006–2008, Chairman 2008–2017

This building will be officially opened and named in 2019

In his words: ‘See what the rest of the world is doing and bring the best of it back.’


The Radford College Middle School (part of the Secondary School)

The Foundation Stone featured there was laid on 13 August 2003 by Foundation staff member and Foundation Director of Studies, Molly Brownbill.

In her words: ‘The curriculum at Radford is constantly evolving but the values remain the same. We still provide an offering which allows every child to fulfil his or her full potential.’

Radford College Archives

If you would like to know more about Radford's history, or if you have photographs or other items you want to donate, please contact the Radford archivist, Katie Taylor, at archives@radford.act.edu.au.

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