The first Catholic school in the Kimberley was established by the Trappist Fathers at Beagle Bay in 1892. It was a bi-lingual school where instruction was given in French and Nyul Nyul, the language of the traditional custodians of the land around Beagle Bay. They also learnt to speak and sing in English and were taught Latin hymns.
The Pallottine Fathers and brothers took charge of the mission in 1901. The St. John of God Sisters arrived in 1907 and taught in the school until the 1970’s. Later, Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, Infant Jesus Sisters and Our Lady of the Mission Sisters taught in Sacred Heart School.
The Mission ceased to operate in the mid 1970’s and the Beagle Bay community has been self determining since then, governed by an elected Community Council. However, at that time, the community invited the Church to continue to provide priests and a school. For more than two decades now, the school has been administered through lay leadership. Mrs Lyla Forte is the current Principal.
Over the years, Beagle Bay has provided education for students from outlying Communities of Bobeiding, Munget, Imbalgun, Ladjardarr, Billard and Red Soil, as well as distant parts of the Kimberley and beyond. The school now provides education for students ranging from Kindergarten to Year 10. Current enrolment is approximately 110. In addition to the Principal, there are eight teachers and ten Aboriginal Teaching Assistants. All buildings are air conditioned and well equipped. All classroom computers are networked and have access to the internet. There is an automated library. As well as computers, each class has a bank of ipads and Apple TV.
The School has a Board that meets once a month. It is comprised of Community members, the Parish Priest and the Principal. It acts as a decision making body on broad policy and has proven an effective way of consulting with the community. The historic school provides strong support for ATA’s who are enrolled in study courses through the Broome campus of Notre Dame University. There is a Study Centre on the premises for the ATA’s to use for study.