About Us

Established in 1899, Somerville House is a day and boarding school for girls from Prep to Year 12, and a co-educational school for Pre-Prep girls and boys. The School is made up of three sub schools:

  • Junior (Pre-Prep to Year 6)
  • Middle (Years 7 to 9)
  • Senior (Years 10 to 12)

Boarding is available for students from Years 6 to 12 and our facilities, dedicated boarding staff and related programs are renowned both nationally and internationally.

Located in the inner city suburb of South Brisbane, just two kilometres from the city centre and directly opposite South Bank parklands and the state’s pre-eminent cultural precinct, Somerville House offers enviable campus facilities and programs bolstered by highly credentialed and dedicated teaching and support staff, tutors and coaches.

The School provides a comprehensive, balanced educational environment that recognises the importance of academic excellence as well as psychological, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

This is reflected in the School’s rich and varied academic, sporting, cultural and social pursuits and our proud history of developing well rounded, confident and capable students.

Academically, the School stands as one of Australia’s finest. With outstanding facilities for Music, Performing Arts, Cultural endeavours and Sport, combined with one of Australia’s leading technology programs, Somerville House students graduate with a much broader education than can be provided by an academic curriculum alone.

The academic environment of Somerville House is best described as progressive, seamlessly combining traditional values, modern day ethics and technology in a dynamic, supportive and challenging environment.

Somerville House provides each and every student with the framework they require to explore their interests, develop their talents, to strive to meet their goals honourably, and ultimately, to be the very best they can be.

Somerville House is governed by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association (PMSA). The PMSA was established in 1918, and operates four schools and one childcare centre in South-East Queensland. Affiliated schools include Brisbane Boys’ College, Clayfield College and Sunshine Coast Grammar School.

Principal's Welcome

~ Dr Ness Goodwin, Principal of Somerville House

‘Honour Before Honours’  is the Somerville House motto, a motto valuable to our students now and for their lives after school. It is a great honour to serve at Somerville House, and I return mindful of all that the School holds good and valuable. 

I make my commitment to the students, staff parents, Old Girls, and to members of the broader school community that the education and welfare of our students is and always must be our first priority. In making this commitment, the School motto will guide me in the way we make our way forward together. 

So too, do the words, ‘...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8).   

My focus will be to continue the critical work of pursing excellence in all aspects of life at Somerville and promoting the values and behaviours which are representative of our Christian faith. All of us in the school community serve the school in some capacity. 

I look forward to serving the School, and in particular, the students of Somerville House. Together we can accomplish great things.

Philosophy and Vision

The approach adopted at Somerville House acknowledges the Christian beliefs. Respect, integrity and inclusiveness drive the School’s behaviours, exemplified through our School motto, Honour Before Honours. 

As part of the PMSA family of schools, our endeavours are underpinned by strong Christian values, which include:


Founded on God’s relationship with us – through love, justice, compassion and forgiveness.


Focussing on integrity, seeking the truth, right thinking and right action.


Encouraging all to fulfil their potential.


Providing a safe environment for growth and development that respects self and the needs of others.

Personal Development

Enabling growth, resilience, learning from mistakes and successes, continuous improvement and self-management.


Recognising and celebrating the achievements of students, staff and the School’s wider community.

Our vision is to remain an exemplary school and a leader in education.  The School continually invests in learning excellence, building capacity and proactively engaging with the community. This focus is underpinned by three  core planning areas which set the direction across all operations of the School: Learn and Explore, Evolve and Grow, Engage and Inspire.

At Somerville House, we encourage our students to liberate their imaginations, embrace creativity and to value learning as a life-long, enriching undertaking.  We seek to cultivate and extend student abilities within a disciplined environment and recognise each learner as an individual and encourage them to produce their best in all circumstances. In this context, pursuing excellence is acknowledged  as a primary goal for all. 

We acknowledge that parents hold the primary responsibility for a child’s education, with the School, teaching and corporate staff playing an active, supportive role. Ideally, the outcome will be a compatible and collaborative venture between home and School through which each student is nurtured towards the fulfilment of their true potential.

Our Schools

History and Tradition

In 1899 Miss Eliza Fewings founded a school designed to educate young women and equip them to take a leading role in the creation of an emerging nation. The School began as The Brisbane High School for Girls and its first home was the City Tabernacle, on the corner of Wickham Terrace and Edward Street. In 1912, the School moved to ‘Erneton’ in Wickham Terrace, a gracious old home that could accommodate both day students and boarders. 

In 1918 ownership of the School was transferred to the newly formed Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association (PMSA) and in 1919 Cumbooquepa, South Brisbane was chosen as the ideal location for the School. It wasn’t until 1920 that the School became known as Somerville House, named to honour Mary Somerville, a distinguished Scottish scientist, mathematician and scholar.

As a result of World War II, in 1942 the School was evacuated from its South Brisbane site and day girls were moved to Drysllwyn at Auchenflower and Queen Alexandra Home at Coorparoo and boarders moved to Moimindah at Stanthorpe. During this time the Vulture Street site was occupied by The United States Army’s East-Asian Command, under General Macarthur. The School’s South Brisbane campus became General Headquarters United Army Forces Far East, United States Army Service of Supply and Base Section 3, until the students returned in 1945.

Since its foundation, Somerville House has epitomised the essential elements of an exemplary school: intellectual rigour, teaching excellence, a caring Christian community, a wealth of opportunities and a stimulating environment fostering innovation and growth.

The strengths and wisdom of the past are retained, while preparing students to be confident and highly capable individuals of the future.

The School crest was designed by Robin Dods, a well known Brisbane architect. It represents wisdom standing upon the book of knowledge holding the lamp of truth over the School motto “Honour before Honours” which dates back to the School’s foundation.

The colours of the School badge are blue, green and white. Blue is associated with loyalty, green is associated with the foliage of a plant, and hence with growth, and white represents purity.

Our School Motto, Honour before Honours, presents a challenge, in a competitive and materialistic society, to maintain the highest personal standards of integrity, and to regard ideals of behaviour and achievement as more worthwhile and important than the applause of a crowd.

The original School colours were yellow and white. These colours were changed to blue and green in 1912, reflecting the symbolism of values to those used in our  School motto.

The School uniform was introduced in 1922 and our current students still wear the same style of winter uniform introduced back then. The first summer uniform was similar  to the winter uniform in a lighter fabric; the iconic Somerville House green summer uniform was introduced in 1954; and the current style was introduced in 1973.

All six Somerville House colour houses were named to honour outstanding women in Australian history.


Chisholm House is Yellow and named in honour of Caroline Chisholm, a progressive 19th-century English humanitarian known mostly for her involvement with female immigrant welfare in Australia.


Franklin House is Red and named in honour of Jane Franklin, a Tasmanian pioneer and traveller.


Macarthur House is Blue and named in honour of Elizabeth Macarthur, an Anglo-Australian pastoralist and merchant who managed a sheep station and was one of the first to whip merino wool to Britain.


Durack House is Black and named in honour of Mary Durack, a resourceful pioneer pastoralist, surviving all the difficulties of the outback.


Gilmore House is Pink and named in honour of Mary Gilmore, a prominent Australian socialist poet and journalist.


Osburn House is Green and named in honour of Lucy Osburn, an English nurse trained at the School of Nursing founded by Florence Nightingale. She is regarded as the founder of modern nursing in Australia.

Somerville House and the PMSA

Somerville House is owned and operated by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association (PMSA). The PMSA also runs three outstanding Queensland schools - Brisbane Boys’ College, Clayfield College and Sunshine Coast Grammar School.

Established in 1918, the PMSA is a joint mission of the Uniting Church of Australia, Queensland Synod and the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. The Churches formed the PMSA to purchase Brisbane High School for Girls (Somerville House) in 1918.

Today, one hundred years on, the PMSA is a financially strong, not-for-profit organisation that plays a vital role in setting the direction of each school and the connecting link between the schools and the two Churches.

More about PMSA History.

The PMSA is run by a Council of up to 15 qualified volunteer Councillors. Up to six Councillors are each appointed by the Presbyterian Church and the Uniting Church and up to three are appointed by the PMSA Council. The PMSA Council is supported by three committees, a School Council for each of the schools and the PMSA corporate office. 

The Somerville House School Council is responsible for the overall running of the School and works with the Principal who participates in Council meetings. The Somerville House School Council members are:


Mr Jim Demack, LL.B, LL.M, A.MUS.A

PMSA Councillors: 

Mr Con Graves, BA Hons (Psych), GDipMan, MEd, AMICDA
Mrs Margaret Berry, BA, MSc, Med (Leadership)

Community Councillors: 

Dr Russell Bird, MBBS(QLD), FRACS, FRCS(Can)
Mr Peter Thompson, BA(Hons)

School Principal: 

Dr Ness Goodwin

Business Manager: 

Ms Renee Bromiley

More about the PMSA Council and Corporate Office.

All PMSA schools play an important role in educating and guiding young people with values for life. Founded on strong Christian values – relationships, care, ethics, personal development, excellence and celebration – Somerville House and other PMSA schools share these collective values. The four schools work collaboratively to share their knowledge and expertise to enhance the educational experience across all schools. 

More about PMSA Christian Mission, Vision and Values.

The PMSA works together with the Somerville House School Council and Principal to set Somerville House’s direction and achieve the PMSA’s vision. The PMSA provides Somerville House with:

  • a caring, Christian-based culture
  • high quality programs for developing teaching excellence
  • financial strength and support
  • human resources, legal and compliance support
  • governance and policy-making support, particularly around child safety

Please visit the PMSA website for more information.


Careers at Somerville House

Somerville House currently employs over 400 staff in various roles across Academic and Corporate Support areas.

At Somerville House, staff members work in an active and vibrant environment, forging close-knit, collaborative working relationships. We are passionate practitioners and lifelong learners. We seek individuals who embrace the School’s Strategic Intent, and who support the open-minded and inclusive environment we are committed to maintaining. We offer all of our staff a competitive salary and benefits package.

The School is located close to South Bank Parklands and is easily accessible to public transport. On-site car parking may be available, but is not guaranteed. Staff are able to access the Murray Evans Sports and Aquatic Centre facilities, Library services, Café and Tuckshop, as well as participate in events organised by the Staff Association.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value the strength diversity brings to the workplace

If you are interested in joining our dynamic and collaborative team, we invite you to follow the below instructions to apply.

Applicants must provide the following information:

Please submit all applications with the above documentation attached to employment@somerville.qld.edu.au by the specified closing date.

Current Vacancies

PositionClosing DatePosition Description