James Ruse Agricultural High School | High School Guide

In this High School Guide, we profile James Ruse Agricultural High School - NSW's highest performing and most consistent High School.

Written by:
Matrix Education

Interested in finding out more about James Ruse Agricultural High School and why it is consistently number 1? In this overview, we look at its history, famous alumni, and the experience of past students.

All of our information is sourced from the NSW Department of Education website: James Ruse Agricultural High School.


What’s in the James Ruse Agricultural High School Guide?

We’ve created this Guide to provide information to parents and students so they can make an informed decision about applying for James Ruse.

This guide includes additional articles discussing:

  • Admission requirements and process
  • Applying to James Ruse for Year 7 admission
  • How to enrol at James Ruse in Years 8-11
  • Student Life at James Ruse
  • Success Secrets from James Ruse Students and Alumni


In this overview article, we will discuss:



James Ruse Agricultural High School has ranked as NSW’s top school for 25 consecutive years, based on student performance in the HSC. The school is built on the land of the Darug people of the Eora Nation, who are its Traditional Custodians. James Ruse is an academically selective high school, and one of four government agricultural high schools in NSW.

Students can gain entrance into year 7 through the Selective High Schools Test, while a smaller portion of students are admitted in years 8 to 11 by directly applying to the school.


High School Guide James Ruse Felton House
James Ruse Agricultural High School is built on the old Felton farm. This is the heritage-listed Felton Homestead constructed in 1885.


The school initially formed a part of Carlingford District Rural School in 1956 with Charles Mullavey as the Master in Charge. However, by 1959, the school became independent of the Carlingford District Rural School and gained a full high school status as “Carlingford Agricultural High School”. In April the same year, the school was renamed to what we know it as today: “James Ruse Agricultural High School”.

The change was inspired by the then Headmaster, James C. Hoskin. He had become interested in James Ruse, a Cornish farmer who significantly contributed to Australia’s early agricultural development after his arrival on the First Fleet. Moreover, Hoskin noted that the school was serving more than just the Carlingford area, contrary to what its name suggested.

The school was established as a boys’ selective school in 1959, but it gradually became co-educational after an initial intake of 24 female students in Year 11 in 1977. During Hoskin’s time as headmaster, James Ruse Agricultural High School developed its reputation as a quality selective, agricultural and public school. For Hoskin’s service which extended until his retirement at age of 65 in 1978, he was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and the Order of Australia for Services to Education in 1990.

In 1996, James Ruse AHS placed first in the HSC rankings and has continued to maintain this rank for 25 consecutive years to this day. Since its modest beginnings as a wooden five-room classroom block, a small staff-room and ablution facilities, James Ruse AHS has continued to solidify its reputation as NSW’s best performing high school under its current principal, Rachel Powell.


Famous Alumni

James Ruse is responsible for producing some significant public figures in government, politics, science, arts, and business.

Business, science, and public service

Scott FarquharCo-CEO of Australian software company Atlassian
Andrew LeighEconomist and Federal Member for Fraser
Cleo LoiAstrophysicist: mapped atmospheric plasma tubes aligning with Earth’s magnetic field
Elizabeth NewChemist and associate professor at University of Sydney, recipient of RSC Dalton Young Researchers Award
Dhananjayan SriskandarajahRhodes Scholar, Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society, CEO of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Mark TaylorProsecutor and State Member for the Electoral district of Seven Hills
Justin WolfersProfessor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan
Eddie WooMathematics teacher known for Wootube (online mathematics lessons)
John HoChairman of Bellamy’s Organic, Board Member of Vocus Group, Founder and Chief Industrialist Investor of Janchor Partners
Source: commons.wikimedia.org



Ronald JacksonSwimmer, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist for 1650 yard freestyle (1966)
Natalie BatesCyclist, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist for Women’s Road Race (2006)
Andrew LeedsFootballer, member of the Australian National Rugby Union team
Greg MailCricketer, opening batsman for the New South Wales Blues



Greg AndersonAnglican Bishop of the Northern Territory (2014 – present)
Chris EdwardsAnglican Bishop of North Sydney (2014 – present)
Gary KooAnglican Bishop of the Western Region (2019 – present)
Stuart McMillanPresident of the Uniting Church in Australia (2015 – 2018)
Steve ChongFounder of RICE Movement (2001-present)



Trevor JonesDeputy Chief of Navy and Former Chief of Staff of Headquarters Australian Forces in Middle East
Mark KellyRepatriation Commissioner and Former Commander of Australian Forces in Middle East


Entertainment and the arts

Aravind AdigaJournalist, author, and 2008 Man Booker Prize winner
Joh BaileyCelebrity hairdresser
Kate FaganFolk singer and poet
David FungConcert pianist, laureate of the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition, Tel Aviv (2008), and winner of the 2002 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year Award
Antony GreenABC election analyst and commentator
Jason DavisRadio and television presenter, actor
Maha KoraiemCo-founder of swiish.com and co-author of Super Green Smoothies
Kate O’TooleJournalist, host of Hack on Triple J
Magdalena RozeTelevision weather presenter and meteorologist
Katrina WarrenTelevision veterinarian


Source: commons.wikimedia.org


Key statistics

How many students go to James Ruse? What’s the student diversity like? How does it perform? Let’s take a look.

Student Profile

The total number of students enrolled had stayed relatively consistent over the years, as has the ratio of female and male students. There was approximately 23% more male students compared to female students in 2019.

YearTotal number of studentsFemalesMales

HSC Performance

These results are a snapshot of the consecutive 25 years that the school has led the HSC results. James Ruse Agricultural High School students also make up a significant portion of the top performers for each subject (having achieved a state rank). The full list of school rankings can be found here.

YearRankB6/E4 resultsUnique B6/E4 studentsState ranksSuccess rate (%)

Note: If you want to learn more about what high school rankings, including what Unique B6/E4 students and success rates mean, check out our Beginner’s Guide to High School Rankings.


HSC subjects offered

Accelerated subjects

AccelerationSubjects offered
Accelerated by one year (complete HSC in Year 11)
  • Personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE)
  • Agriculture
  • Music II
  • Japanese Continuers
Accelerated by two years (complete HSC in Year 10)
  • Information Processes and Technology (IPT)
  • Software Design and Development (SDD)


Non-accelerated subjects

These subjects are typically not available for accelerated students, however, faculty heads may permit exceptional students to join a class taught at a higher year level. This may include Olympiad students, or students who have transferred from other schools at which they undertook an accelerated subject.

FacultySubjects offered
  • Maths Adv
  • Maths Ext 1
  • Maths Ext 2
  • English Adv
  • English Ext 1
  • English Ext 2
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Science Extension
 Creative and Performing Arts
  • Drama
  • Visual Arts
  • Music Ext
Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE)
  • Ancient History
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History Ext
  • Modern History
  • Japanese Ext
  • Latin Continuers
  • Latin Ext


What’s next?

Now that you know a little bit about James Ruse, do you want to attend it? Well, in the next article, we go through the entrance requirements for James Ruse High School! Read now. 


Written by Matrix Education

Matrix is Sydney's No.1 High School Tuition provider. Come read our blog regularly for study hacks, subject breakdowns, and all the other academic insights you need.

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2023. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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