Since its inception in 1958, Nagle College has served the educational needs of young men and women of the East Gippsland region. For over 60 years, our inclusive school has enrolled students from all walks of life. We take great pride in catering for all abilities and encourage every one of our students to live out the College motto: Let Your Light Shine.

1958 – 1964

"We went to Bairnsdale in 1958 at the invitation of the Bishop to take over the existing primary school of St Mary's and to take the important step of starting a secondary school. There were six Sisters on the original foundation, who worked very hard under difficult conditions. There were no special classrooms or building available for secondary students, so everyone had to be fitted into the existing rooms at St Mary's. Space was the one thing that was valued, and at one period the upstairs verandah was used for taking classes in different subjects. The name chosen for the new secondary school was Nagle College, in line with our Presentation tradition, and the motto was Luceat Lux Vestra (Let Your Light Shine). A new uniform was decided upon, and the first time the town saw the new school in action was when the boys and girls of Nagle College in the brand new uniforms marched - with drums and all! – to participate in the opening of the new bridge across the Mitchell River. At the end of the first year the total number of pupils in both schools was 418, by 1959 this was 440, by 1960 the total was 472, by 1961 it was 485, by 1962 it was 522, by 1963 the number was 515, and when I left in 1964 it was 538. In the early sixties it was apparent that a new building must be acquired to house the secondary students, and to provide better facilities for a wider range of subjects. The new Nagle College adjoining the Convent was built, and this provided some relief for the primary school children, who had been confined to very cramped conditions at St Mary's."

- Extract from a letter written by Sister Mary Catherine Curtin, the first Principal of Nagle College.

1965 – 1975

Inter-House sports were first held at the Bairnsdale Oval on April 1, 1965. Nagle College’s first Houses - Nagle (green) and Lourdes (yellow) - would compete for the Mother Catherine Sports Shield which was presented by Monsignor Walsh (Parish Priest). In 1966, the Swimming Carnival was introduced. Short events were held at the old Port of Bairnsdale pool while longer events saw students swimming either freestyle of backstroke the width of the Mitchell River. Tennis lessons, Junior Boys Cricket (playing for the St Mary’s junior team), netball and football also began in 1966.

In 1968 the College had an enrolment of 165 students. The first excursion to Melbourne took place this year on April 17, with a visit to The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. House names were changed to Aquarius, Gemini and Orion in 1970.

In 1974 a residential house, opposite the College, was purchased. A large garage was built for woodworking classes while the house’s inside rooms were furnished for sewing, cooking, pottery and art classes. This expansion provided space for extra subjects and allowed music, science, art and the library to have specialist spaces with the main College building.

Increasing enrolments meant that, by 1973, there were not enough Sisters to meet the College's teaching requirements. In early 1974, Mother Eymard advised the Bishop of Sale that the College would need a lay principal by 1976. On 1 July, 1975 it was announced that the Presentation Sisters would withdraw from Nagle College. On 14 August, 1975 a Parish Education Board meeting was held in the Nagle College Library with a Constitution presented for discussion. A second meeting was held on 19 September at which five parents were nominated for the Nagle College Council: John Hall, Geoff Downie, Bryan Dahlsen, George White and John Theodore. On 29 November, 1975 the selection panel for the appointment of a new principal chose Mr J R Nicholson as the first lay principal of Nagle College.

  • Principal 1965 – 1967: Mother M Leonard Gartlan, PBVM
  • Principal 1968 – 1970: Mother M Paula Warren, PBVM
  • Principal 1971 – 1973: Sister M Marie Michael Convery, PBVM
  • Principal 1974 – 1975: Sister Isla Kealy, PBVM

1976 - 1989

Nagle College enrolled 360 students in 1977, with a projection of over 500 students by 1980. Increasing numbers meant a larger site was needed. Several sites were considered but deemed unsuitable. Mr John Campbell suggested the Council look at the Hillside site, owned by Mr Stan Collins. The Council acknowledged it was a beautiful site with plenty of land (126 acres) and acquired the land in 1977.

Six learning areas, one resource centre, a mezzanine floor, two science laboratories, a service block and a canteen were constructed for the start of the 1979 school year. They were officially blessed and opened on 6 May, 1979. A new school logo, designed by Lawrence D Kermond, marked the start of a new era, and is still used today.

The Omeo Outdoor Education Centre, established in 1978, introduced students to academic and outdoor recreational activities in the local environment. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme started in 1981 with the arrival of Mr Frank Bailey. In 1984, two students received their Gold Awards and a further four students received their Awards from HRH Prince Philip in 1985. Two students flew to Edinburgh to take part in the Edinburgh ’85 Project. In 1986, Nagle Awardees represented Australia at the International Forum in Hong Kong. By 2004, over 1,000 Nagle students had been involved in the Duke of Ed, with a total of 132 Gold Awards presented.

"The Sisters are a sign, a symbol, in our community of values and aspirations that transcend this world. It is important that our children have in front of them, as it were, the living proof of Christ's message."

A Religious Education Centre and our first computer room (which was located at the end of the Mathematics Wing) were officially opened in 1982. In 1985, the House System underwent a major change: our four Houses [Moon (green), Lind (red), Howitt (blue) and McLeod (yellow)], became six [Avila (yellow), Chisholm (maroon), MacKillop (brown), Newman (red), Polding (blue) and Xavier (green)].

Stages Four, Five and Six were completed and officially opened on 11 December, 1987. To mark the occasion of our 30th Anniversary in 1988, local glass artist Mr Russ Wade, designed a stained glass window that symbolised Nagle College and the “enlightened, educated students as its product, going forth into the world”. The panel was originally installed at the front of the Religious Education Centre but has since been relocated to the Occhiena Administration Wing.

  • Principal 1976 – 1988: Mr J R (Rod) Nicholson
  • Principal 1989: Mr Michael Nelson (Acting)

1990 – 2006

In late 1989 the Salesian Society had been contacted by the Bishop of Sale to provide a Principal for the College. We welcomed Fr Frank Freeman SDB at the start of 1990. The initial agreement was for three years, but Salesian presence lasted until 2006. During this period the College continued to grow, develop and diversify subject and course offerings. The Salesian years were marked by consolidation and then the diversification of College administration and activities in accordance with the basic Salesian educational policies of Reason, Religion and Kindness.

Building works during this time included Presentation Hall (1992), the St John Bosco Chapel (2000), the Junior Wing and the English Wing.

Bosco House, named after St John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Society, became the seventh House at Nagle College in 1995. 2004 marked 25 years for Nagle College on the Mitchell River site and coincided with St Mary’s Primary School relocating from its premises in Francis Street to a new 10 acre site on the Bairnsdale-Dargo Road, once again forming a Catholic Education Precinct.

In 2005 the Salesian Provincial Council deemed that the Salesians had completed their mission in Bairnsdale and it was time for the Church to entrust the administration of the College to the increasing numbers of very dedicated and capable lay people. So in 2007 the College welcomed Mr Robert Brennan as Principal, with a smaller Salesian Community remaining as a pastoral presence in Bairnsdale.

  • Principal 1990 – 1999: Fr Frank Freeman, SDB
  • Principal 2000 – 2006: Fr Bernie Graham, SDB

2007 – 2019

The College underwent major building and refurbishment programs between 2008 and 2012. The addition of a new administration wing – the Occhiena Centre, named after St John Bosco's mother Margherita Occhiena – gave a new face to the College. Refurbished areas included the Science Wing, Arts Wing, Food and Technology Centre, Library. House Coordinators relocated to the old reception precinct and the first aid room became the Second Hand Uniform Shop. Outside improvements included the relocation of the outdoor tennis and basketball courts to the sports precinct, extensive shaded areas, an outdoor sound stage, shelters at the pick-up/drop off zone, and extensive outside seating areas. All classrooms and office spaces were fitted with reverse cycle air conditioning by the end of 2012.

The Nagle College Rainforest Project was launched in 2010 and continues to thrive under the management of the Eco Warriors and Environmental Science classes.

The Parents and Friends Association underwent a revival in 2009 with one of their initiatives being the running of a second hand uniform shop. The House Banners were given a new image in 2011 with seven banners showing the coat of arms of the House Patrons displayed in House colours. In 2012 seven larger versions of these were produced which are prominently displayed in Presentation Hall, enabling the original banners to be put into well-earned retirement.

As part of our holistic education Nagle College offers an innovative and entrepreneurial applied learning program – VCAL, as well as broad Vocation and Training options – VET. Many of our students are recruited to the work force from their work placement positions. In 2015 a new Trades Skills Centre was built to support students’ learning.

All students have a laptop which is a powerful learning tool assisting both research and presentation of work.

In recent years more regular whole school assemblies have been conducted. These provide opportunities to share achievements, encouragement and to celebrate together.

There has been an explicit focus on Learning and Teaching with all staff promoting the teaching of literacy. Additionally, a Learning Framework has been developed which builds student’s capacity as a learner who is motivated and reflective and who shows ownership and takes action.

Our students are encouraged to adopt the notion that they come to school to work, and their work is learning. To promote this approach our process of Good Standing is in place. Good Standing consists of two pillars – that students are co-operative and they are required to complete and submit all work.

We have introduced GAP time, a minute of silence prior to lunch during which staff and students consider Gratitude And Peace in their life.

In 2017 we opened the Nano Nagle Learning Centre which provides contemporary and collaborative teaching and learning opportunities. The Nano Nagle Learning Centre is used mainly by Years 7 and 8, and Japanese Language classes.

  • Principal 2007 – 2011: Mr Robert Brennan
  • Principal 2012 - 2023 : Mr Neville Powles

Our students come to school to work and their work is learning.

Mr Neville Powles, Principal

2020 - present

The Technology Precinct was officially blessed and opened in early 2020. It includes classrooms for Food, Textiles, Wood, Electronics and Systems as well as a reception area used for events and Nagle's Fresh Art Exhibition.

After consultations with a Strategic Reference Group, the 2020-2029 Master Plan was released, and will be planned over seven stages:

Stage 1: This includes a new Music and Performing Art Precinct, including a 300 seat theatre. Administration upgrades and improved vehicle and pedestrian network will be undertaken.

Stage 2: A new VCE VM (formerly VCAL) Precinct will meet the increasing demand of VCE VM at the College.

Stage 3: A new Agricultural Science and Maintenance facility will be constructed to further support Agricultural Science.

Stage 4: Humanities Wing, Staff room and Library will be upgraded to create a 'one-stop-shop' for staff and students to access resources.

Stage 5: The Mathematics and English Wings will be refurbished and will include contemporary learning spaces with break-out areas.

Stage 6: Improvement to the Science and Art courtyard.

Stage 7: Long-term administration upgrades are planned to improve circulation, security and safety.