A letter from the Former Director of Schools, Ray Collins re: Study into the Provision of Secondary Education
“Catholic schools are an inclusive, affordable option, open to all and we are looking forward to growing the future of Catholic education in our region.”
- Ray Collins, Former Director of Schools.
For more than 180 years, Catholic schools have been providing education to families in this region. Currently, more than 2200 staff help educate over 18,400 students enrolled in 56 Catholic schools, including 11 secondary schools. We seek to embrace contemporary approaches to teaching and learning so that our students are well placed to make an active, life-giving contribution to a changing world.
In 2013, the Catholic Schools Office began a Study, commissioned by Bishop Bill Wright, into the Provision of Secondary Education to ensure the diocese would be able to meet the future needs of students in Catholic secondary schools. The study also aimed to ensure that our Catholic secondary schools remain vibrant, relevant and academically competitive in an increasingly demanding and rapidly changing educational climate.
The study involved consultation with parents, staff and students of all diocesan secondary schools including the opportunity for submissions, interviews, surveys and meetings. The study gathered vast amounts of data through an analysis of historical information, listening assemblies across the diocese, quantitative surveys of all key stakeholders, qualitative interviews with stakeholder groups, the work and input of an expert panel of educators, a steering group and a literature review.
As a result of this study, I am pleased to inform you that 12 recommendations made by the study (attached) have been accepted by Bishop Bill Wright for implementation.
All 12 recommendations are significant and present new, positive opportunities for Catholic education in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The Diocese is embracing the opportunity to respond to change and significant enrolment pressure with innovation and creativity. We are committed to providing a secondary education for students that is marked by academic rigour and success, providing students with every opportunity to improve their learning such that they can maximise their post-school choices.
Among the recommendations included, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will build two new Years 7-12 high schools in Medowie and Chisholm. These will become the first high schools to be built in the diocese in over 30 years, since the inception of St Paul’s High School, Booragul in 1984, which was extended in 1999 with the addition of Years 11-12.
A decision has also been made to grow two of our existing schools. In 2018, St Joseph’s, Lochinvar and St Mary’s, Gateshead, both currently 7-10 schools, will offer Years 11-12. These decisions will allow for more enrolments to be taken at surrounding Catholic high schools currently experiencing enrolment pressure.
Whilst the 12 recommendations will affect some schools more than others, the Catholic Schools Office is committed to providing as much information to the community as possible regarding the recommendations and what they will mean for each school community.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff, clergy, parents and students for your patience and active participation during the process of completing this study. Catholic schools are an inclusive, affordable option, open to all and we are looking forward to growing the future of Catholic education in our region. I look forward to the opportunity to tell you more about the recommendations and discuss the future of Catholic education with you in person at the Parent and Parishioner Information Sessions in the next few weeks.
Director of Schools.
Most Reverend William Wright,
Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle.