The text below is an extract from the Study into the Provision of Secondary Education report.
For more than 180 years, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has proudly provided Catholic schooling. Approximately 18,400 students are enrolled in our 56 Catholic schools, providing an education that is founded on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Gospel. We are an integral part of the Catholic Church, and as such, we aim to foster in young people an abiding faith, characterised by a God who loves, forgives and animates all that we do.
Our dedicated staff are committed to providing an excellent education that caters to the academic needs and personal interests of students as well as nurturing their special gifts. 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.
Catholic secondary schools in the diocese are informed and enlivened by:
- The Nature and Purpose Statement
- The vision for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
- The diocesan school system strategic plan
- Compliance with legislated requirements through Federal and State Governments and the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards
- Relevant Church documents (including Catholic Schools at a Crossroads)
This study has been commissioned in order to ensure that our Catholic secondary schools remain vibrant, relevant and academically competitive in an increasingly demanding and rapidly changing educational climate. For our schools to remain authentically committed to their mission and purpose and to provide equitable and increased provision for the future, this review provides some key recommendations for implementation.
The study has gathered vast amounts of data including: historical information; listening assemblies across the diocese; quantitative surveys of all key stakeholders; qualitative interviews with stakeholder groups; the work of an expert panel of educators; a steering group and a literature review.
Our schools are characterised by an abiding commitment to promoting a particular world view: one that is Catholic and at times, counter-cultural. Our aim is to promote the common good and in so doing, we make ourselves open to all who wish to avail themselves of an education which is proudly and explicitly Catholic in its nature. We aspire to also 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. Our schools need to be contemporary: they must seek to engage, motivate and develop in young people a love of learning, a commitment to their own learning in a manner that develops self-discipline, persistence and self-direction.
We must provide a variety of educational opportunities that meet the needs of all students across the academic spectrum: with enrichment and extension activities as well as learning support and approaches to intervention. Our schools must provide “academic stretch” for the most able and we also must continue to support those with special learning needs. A broad and rich curriculum diversity must be available to all and in a variety of ways, exploiting opportunities for engagement through remote, online and mixed-mode delivery. We continue to offer a breadth of vocational courses that give students pathways into the world of work.
Catholic schools cater to the poor. We must continually reflect on and find ways to invite those who need our help the most to avail themselves of a Catholic secondary education. We are a Catholic school education provider, not a system of schools for Catholics. All those who wish to participate in Catholic education, with a sincere desire for schooling where God is spoken about, where prayer is central and faith formation is integral, should be offered the opportunity for enrolment.
There are currently ten secondary schools and one K-12 school across the diocese. We have not built nor opened a new secondary school since the inception of St Paul’s High School, Booragul in 1984. There is considerable demand for increased provision of secondary places with enrolment pressures particularly being felt in the All Saints Region. To that end, a primary school in Chisholm, St Aloysius Catholic Primary School has been built. Alongside this, we have plans to provide an additional high school in the short term, co-located with St Aloysius. We are committed to growing our Catholic system of schools and to do so in a financially sustainable and responsibly manner.
Planning is underway for additional secondary provision in Medowie as well as the feasibility for a secondary school presence in the Cessnock area. Our existing secondary schools will continue to provide a balanced, rich curriculum offering with increased opportunities for smooth transition from and to different school and other settings together with a renewed commitment for improving academic outcomes across the board.
It is recommended that two of our current Years 7-10 high schools be extended to include Years 11 and 12 education.
The future of Catholic secondary schooling in our diocese is indeed bright. In commissioning this Study into the Provision of Secondary Education, the Catholic Schools Office has sought to secure this future in detailing some carefully considered recommendations in light of the available literature; the voice of the key stakeholders in the diocese (parents, staff, students and clergy) as well as consulting with an expert panel of esteemed educators in NSW.