93 Catholic secondary Colleges around Queensland are ready to welcome 12,000 Year 7 students in 2015 as part of the historic change in the way school education is delivered in Queensland.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission Executive Director Mike Byrne says the move of Year 7 is a historic and exciting development that will open up new educational opportunities for students of this age.
He says Catholic school authorities have been planning for the move for more than three years and are well prepared to welcome both Year 7 and Year 8 to secondary school in 2015.
More than 500 additional teachers will commence in Catholic secondary schools as a result of the move. Around 8,500 Year 7 students will also commence Year 8 meaning more than 20,000 students will enter a Catholic secondary school for the first time next year.
“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 6 and 7 moving to secondary school together and have plans in place to ensure both groups are well catered for,” Mr Byrne said.
Mr Byrne says Catholic schools will offer learning programs that focus on the needs of students of this age, and in alignment with the Australian curriculum.
“Children of this age are becoming young adults and we believe are ready for the new learning opportunities that the secondary context can provide.
“Catholic ethos and mission are central to and inbuilt into the curriculum,” Mr Byrne said.
Catholic education authorities are also working to ensure that teachers are well supported and prepared for the move, offering a host of professional learning activities including sharing of practice between primary and secondary schools and programs focused on understanding the adolescent learner.
Mr Byrne said communication and engagement with families and the broader community has also been key in managing the move.
“Catholic schools have been engaging closely with families and will continue to do so, particularly in the early part of 2015, as students settle into secondary school.
Mr Byrne said development of new buildings and facilities is well advanced and these should be ready for the arrival of new students and staff in 2015.
“Construction of new and refurbished facilities to cater for Year 7 students across 93 Catholic secondary colleges has been a major undertaking,” he said.
A comprehensive audit of Catholic secondary school facilities was undertaken in 2009, and over the past three years, Catholic school authorities have rolled out a major building program that has delivered:
The building program has involved an investment of over $215 million in projects across 93 Catholic secondary colleges including $105 million in State Government funding.
Some Colleges have incorporated master-planned projects and expansions into these works, but the financial commitment of the Catholic community to this change has been enormous and has delivered some wonderful education infrastructure for communities around the State.
“We also recognise the significant support from the State Government and the contribution of Local Government through their support of planning and infrastructure development processes,” Mike Byrne said.
“This is an exciting and historic structural change to education delivery that will support our students to reach their full potential.
“It is a change only achieved by working in partnership with government and local communities, primary and secondary schools, students, staff and families.
“Catholic schools continue to work to ensure students, staff and families are well-supported and prepared for the move and are confident that it will be achieved successfully,” he said.
The move of Year 7 to secondary in the Catholic sector was officially launched by The Honourable Ian Walker MP Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, representing Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek at a function hosted by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission last night.