I am sure I am not alone in commencing 2021 with a range of emotions. I am excited for the future, but also mindful of the challenges that COVID brought to the education sector and our personal lives in 2020.
Notwithstanding this, we have much to celebrate this year as we recognise the significant milestone of 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia. Together, Catholic schools have educated millions of Australian students and made an enormous contribution to the vitality of our society.
The first Catholic school opened in 1820 in Paramatta. By 1844, Catholic education had begun in South Australia and by 1866 there was a Jesuit School, St Aloysius at Sevenhill, and about 20 parish schools in the State. One of these was St Joseph’s School at Penola, established by Father Julian Tenison Woods and a remarkable young woman named Mary MacKillop.
Today, we build on the rich heritage of those early founders of Catholic Education, with more than 100 schools across South Australia.
While there is much to celebrate, we are also acutely aware of the impact of the COVID pandemic on our community. Last year we announced that we would offer school fee remissions to those families who were experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the pandemic. That offer remains in place.
In addition, the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools is making Catholic education more accessible in 2021 under the Making Catholic Education More Affordable initiative.
The great news for families is that we are guaranteeing that the school fee of each Catholic parish primary school in 2021 will be lower than last year’s fee. This decision is the result of an extensive analysis of the financial position of our schools and parents’ capacity to pay fees.
Our parish primary schools are also moving to a simpler fee structure rather than a combination of different levies. In addition, each school has introduced a lower fee for families on low income to reinforce the absolute priority that Catholic Education is accessible to all families.
2021 will be a year of expansion and growth for Catholic Education. Highlights include:
Xavier College – More than 150 students will join the new Reception – Year 6 campus that has opened in Two Wells.
St Patrick’s Technical College – The technical college is now welcoming Year 10s in addition to the courses it offers Year 11 and 12 students. The college has much to celebrate following a record-breaking year with 100 students commencing apprenticeships in 2020.
St Michael’s College – The primary campus at Beverley is welcoming girls into Reception classes for the first time in 2021. By 2027, the college will be a fully co-educational school from Reception to Year 12.
Galillee Catholic School – The Aldinga school is now a Campus of Cardijn College as it prepares to offer middle years learning with Year 8 commencing from 2022.
Vision for the North – We will continue to partner with Edmund Rice Education Australia to help young people in the northern suburbs re-engage with learning.
Western Technical College – With a focus on defence, shipbuilding and maritime industries, the new technical college is taking enrolments and will open in Semester 2.
St Francis of Assisi College – The Riverland has welcomed founding principal, Nathan Hayes. Throughout the coming year, Nathan will lead the development of the new secondary college at Renmark that will open for its first cohort of students in 2022.
That is just a snapshot of some of the growth happening across our schools. That said, Catholic schooling is about much more than buildings and infrastructure. We are committed to working in partnership with families, raising the hearts and minds of young people.
I would particularly like to thank our staff for their resilience last year. In an unprecedented environment, with constantly changing restrictions and requirements, they kept the wellbeing and learning of students at the forefront. They worked tirelessly to ensure students could continue their education albeit in challenging circumstances. Thank you!
May 2021 be a year when our students and school communities flourish. May you be inspired by the life and example of Jesus and may our students continue to grow as thriving young people, capable learners and leaders for the world God desires.Jump to next article