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Enrolments on the rise

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The introduction of mid-year Reception intakes and the transition of Year 7 students to secondary school settings are having a positive impact on enrolments at Catholic schools in South Australia.

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Latest census data gathered by Catholic Education SA shows a number of schools have gained 10 per cent or more in student numbers over the past year.

One Catholic primary school in the south of Adelaide has recorded a 32 per cent increase. St Martin de Porres School, Sheidow Park, had 278 students in 2016 and for the first time in its 33-year history it has passed the 400 mark.

As with other schools in the South-West region, St Martin de Porres expanded to include Year 6 students at the beginning of the year. In addition, 21 Reception students started school this term, taking the total number of Reception students to 94, spread across three classes.

Principal Craig Fosdike said the school’s success in attracting Reception students followed a strategic decision to have a presence in the local community and develop strong relationships with pre-schools and childcare centres in the area.

This included inviting early childhood educators to professional development opportunities at the school and personally visiting pre-schools to talk to their staff. Positive parenting workshops that support parents were also offered to the wider community.

“We have been very active in the past three years in focusing on the importance of the transition from pre-school to school,” Mr Fosdike added.

“The ‘schoolies’ program at St Martin de Porres involves youngsters spending one day a week at the school for the term prior to commencing.

“We know that if a child is familiar with the school environment then they will be better prepared to start learning.”

A major building program at the school was completed in February, providing five new classrooms which maximise the “beautiful setting” of the coastal school. The $3 million self-funded project also includes refurbished grounds and a massive outdoor covered learning area.

Mr Fosdike also stressed the importance of providing a Catholic education pathway from Reception to Year 12 through close connections to Sacred Heart College and Cardijn College.

Other schools which have gained 10 per cent or more in student numbers over the past year include Cardijn College, Noarlunga, St Joseph’s School, Barmera, St Mary’s Memorial School, Glenelg, Mount Carmel College, Rosewater, Stella Maris Parish School, Seacombe Gardens, and St Barbara’s Parish School, Roxby Downs.

CESA assistant director Bruno Vieceli said the mid-year intake and the transition of Year 7 students to secondary school settings had been “warmly embraced by families”.

“Offering families greater choice is very important,” Mr Vieceli said.

The changes follow the launch of CESA’s Living Learning Leading Framework at the largest ever gathering of staff in Catholic schools in January.

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