Around 147,000 or almost 1 in 5 Queensland students and 18,000 teachers and staff will begin the school year at one of 299 Catholic schools across the State in 2015.
Four new Catholic schools will open in 2015. St Brendan’s Catholic school at Mackay’s northern beaches, Holy Spirit College, Manoora (Cairns), the Rockhampton Flexible Learning Centre, and Ambrose Treacy College, Indooroopilly will all welcome their first students.
93 Catholic secondary Colleges around Queensland will also welcome around 12,000 Year 7 students in 2015 as part of the historic change in the way school education is delivered in Queensland.
Around 8,500 students will commence Year 8 meaning that more than 20,000 students will be entering a Catholic secondary school for the first time.
More than 500 additional teachers will also commence in Catholic secondary schools as a result of the move of Year 7.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission Executive Director Mike Byrne says Catholic school authorities are well prepared to welcome the new students, staff and families to the secondary schools.
“While we knew we had to get the ‘hardware’ and the buildings in place, we realised early on that the real success of this change would be measured by the preparedness of the people involved – our staff, our students and our parents,” Mike Byrne said.
Mr Byrne said preparations by Catholic schools have focused particularly on the pastoral care of younger students as they move into a secondary environment.
“It is vital that the students feel safe and welcome in an environment where they will be the youngest members of the school community.
“Catholic schools have developed a variety of programs including mentoring and buddy programs to suit the needs of each school.
“Pastoral care of the younger students will be particularly critical in the boarding school context.
“Catholic schools have also recognised the challenges of Year 7 and 8 commencing secondary school together and have plans in place to ensure both groups are well catered for,” Mr Byrne said.
The Great Teachers = Great Results program to promote professional excellence in teaching also begins in Catholic schools in 2015. This program will deliver around $52million to the Catholic sector over the next four years.
“Quality teaching is the single greatest contributor to improving outcomes for our students,” QCEC Executive Director Mike Byrne said.
“This additional funding will assist Catholic schools to further support teachers to develop their skills and improve teacher quality and performance.
“The Catholic sector commends the State Government for allowing the flexibility to tailor reforms to the individual needs and circumstances of our schools,” he said.
Mr Byrne said Catholic schools strive to provide a high quality, faith-based and affordable educational option for Queensland families.
“I thank our families for their ongoing support for Catholic schools and offer best wishes to all Queensland school communities – Catholic, State and Independent – for a happy, safe and productive year ahead,” he said.
Catholic schools in Queensland educate about 18.5% of all students and almost 60% of students in non-government schools. Enrolments in Catholic schools have been increasing by 2-3% annually over the past decade.
Queensland’s Catholic schools are operated by five diocesan education authorities based in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Brisbane and 17 Religious Institutes.