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New era for north western college


A long, rich history of educating students from diverse cultural backgrounds will enter a new era next year with the formation of Mount Carmel College R-12.

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Planning for the unification of Mount Carmel College, Rosewater (7-12), with Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish School, Pennington (R-6), has been underway since last year and excitement is building as the college readies to become a “one stop shop” for Catholic education.

Already a record number of students are enrolled at both campuses for 2022 and building projects are on the horizon as each site reaches capacity and looks to cater for increasing enrolments in future years.

“There has been significant interest in the R-12 college,” principal John Konopka told The Southern Cross.

“R-12 is appealing for parents because they want a one-stop shop. They want to start their child in primary school and have them go all the way through and not have to worry about another enrolment interview, pay more fees, fill out more paperwork.

“Next year we will start with just over 1000 students over the two campuses and in addition, we will have about 500 students enrolled in courses at the Western Technical College in 2022, which is the third campus of Mount Carmel College,” he said.

Mr Konopka added that since the formation of the R-12 college was announced last year there had been ongoing consultation with parents and students, particularly regarding uniforms and school fees.

“Right from the start we said that school fees are not going to change and if anything they have reduced,” he explained.

“In terms of the uniform we have made an absolute commitment to say that students can continue to wear their current uniform until it wears out, so there will be no additional costs.

“This year we had several sessions with a group of students from Years 4 to 9 so they could give us feedback on the current uniform.

“Surprisingly, they actually really liked most parts of the uniform, but also made a few suggestions on changes and they will be enacted from the start of 2022 for new families and children who need to replace an item.”

Some of the updates include a floppy hat and polar fleece jumper.

Mr Konopka said over the past months there had also been a streamlining of administration, technology, health and safety, and payroll roles across the two campuses but “absolutely no loss of jobs”.

“In fact it’s been the opposite as the Western Technical College is currently expanding and administrative needs have increased with their growing enrolments,” he said.

To foster interaction between the staff of both campuses a combined staff day was held in September and this has led to a greater sharing of facilities and equipment between the two sites.

The day featured guest speaker Sr Brigette Sipa, CentreWest regional leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, who spoke about the rich history of the Sisters in education in the Port Adelaide area.

“It was really good for the staff to hear the story,” Mr Konopka said.

“Mary MacKillop’s mission was absolutely to the poor and disadvantaged and the Sisters of St Joseph really went out in the community to seek out those families who were struggling.

Both of our schools are low socio-economic and we have many families in need and that priority for the poor is evident in both the schools, as a direct result of the legacy of the Josephites.”

Mr Konopka said there were more than 60 cultural backgrounds represented at the college, with English often being the second language spoken in the home.

“Mount Carmel College tailors education to individual needs and we have a reputation for supporting students with special needs, particularly those on the autism spectrum,” he said.

“We also offer two pathways for our senior students.

“University is the destination for the majority of the graduating students, but via the Western Technical College students can achieve TAFE qualifications whilst their work also counts towards the SACE.”


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