History

The College has a proud tradition and history, dating back to 1912 when Ann McDonald, then only 12 years of age, arrived with her family from Falkirk in Scotland and settled in Shepparton, Victoria. This Scottish tradition has been carried through to the College uniform, which features the McDonald tartan.

Ann had ambitions for a singing career and was recommended to the Conservatorium in Sydney. She moved to Sydney in 1925 and in order to finance her singing lessons she established a small studio to teach the ballroom and Scottish dancing that she had learnt as a child in Scotland. The classes grew and within a year Ann had taken a lease on premises in Ashfield and established The Ann McDonald College of Dancing. Her love of performing inspired all who came in contact with her.

Ann McDonald and her husband John Butt founded and operated the Ann McDonald College of Dancing until 1970, during that time Ann McDonald was President of the Federal Association of Teachers of Dancing for fifteen years and her husband John was Honorary Treasurer and together they were involved in the performing arts for more than fifty years.

On the retirement their daughter, Margaret Markham, took over the College. After a period of time, Ann Fraser and Maxine Sullivan (Kohler) became partners. It had long been a desire of Ann McDonald and John Butt to achieve recognition for the performing arts in education. In 1983, their daughter saw the opportunity of establishing a specialised academic and performing arts school for gifted children. Margaret Markham, Ann Fraser and Maxine Kohler, in support of this exciting and innovative development, agreed to change the Ann McDonald College of Dancing from a private company into a community based, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, thus facilitating the establishment of The McDonald College Limited. The McDonald College commenced with 75 students in 1984 and since then has grown from strength to strength.

Established in 1984 and now with over 30 years of excellence in performance, The McDonald College is committed to the academic and performing arts development of Australia’s youth.

The McDonald College began in premises owned by Burwood Council located at 196 Liverpool Road, Enfield and quickly grew to capacity. Whilst looking for larger facilities the College took casual occupation of local business premises including a room at the Enfield Swimming Pool complex.

In 1985, the College acquired the historic Arnotts Biscuit family home at 11-13 Beresford Road, Strathfield. By 1989, we had acquired an adjoining block of home units fronting onto Homebush Road, Homebush and converted these to classrooms. In 1993, we moved into the railway property at 1 Beresford Road, Strathfield where all the creative and performing arts faculties were housed. It was the eventual sale of these three properties in 1999 that allowed the College to purchase its present premises at 17 George Street, North Strathfield. In 2016, the College celebrated its 90-year anniversary, which you can read more about in our digital timeline below.