St. Ignatius Parish Primary School belongs to the Bourke Catholic Parish. The school provides a Catholic education for children who live in the town of Bourke and its surrounding area. Bourke is a service town for the surrounding villages and is situated on the banks of the Darling River in far north west NSW. It has a population of about 2 200. The main employment opportunities are with the cotton industry, fruit growing or sheep and cattle. There is a large number of people who move to Bourke for employment in education and other government departments. The closest major town Dubbo, is about 4 hours drive east.
Catholic education in Bourke was started by a group of local Catholics in about 1871. In 1881 the Sisters of St Joseph were invited to the town. They used the church as the classroom while the school, named St. Joseph's Convent School, was built. From 1891 to 1988 the Sisters of Mercy took over the operation of the school. In 1961, on completion of a classroom block, the school was renamed St. Ignatius Parish Primary School. In 1988 the operation of the school was taken over by the Marist Brothers who remained until 2004. The Mercy presence ended with the retirement of the last Sister in 2005. Since 2005 the school has been administered by lay staff.
The school, with a backdrop of the heritage listed, wrought iron convent building, built in 1896, has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. St Ignatius Church, the oldest building in town, stands on the school grounds.
The school has a student population of 100 with approximately 50% identified as indigenous.
The children participate in athletics, swimming, rugby league, cricket and netball carnivals at local, Diocesan and State levels. The students support the community through Meals on Wheels, ANZAC celebrations and combined NAIDOC Day activities with other local schools. In addition to government skills testing the children participate in University of NSW School competitions each year.
The students are well known for their generosity, especially to those most in need, and regularly raise money by organising and taking part in fund raising days for charity and the missions.