Academic achievement, affordability and strong and safe school communities all point to a flourishing future for Catholic education in Victoria.
Catholic Education Melbourne Executive Director Stephen Elder says the greatest compliment he has ever received was overhearing one parent tell another “If you want your child to be truly happy, then send them to a Catholic school”.
“Catholic education stems from a sense of service to the community,” Mr Elder says. “We have always worked to make our schools open to as many parents who want a quality, values-based education for their children as possible – and always will.
“We’re not driven by educational fads. Instead our focus is on developing independent learners and encouraging personal development; creating happy, well-adjusted students with the knowledge and life skills – plus a sense of purpose – needed in our ever more complicated world.”
A pathway for life
Growing numbers of students and a steady stream of new schools point to the popularity of Catholic education.
This year over 210,000 students – close to one in four Victorian school children – will enjoy a Catholic education in one of nearly 500 schools state-wide.
And above the mere numbers, academic results and a steady stream of independent research underlines the difference a Catholic education makes.
Catholic schools across Melbourne excel in literacy and numeracy – the crucial building blocks of learning – returning results well above the state average in NAPLAN tests.
The 2017 VCE median study score – the best indicator of the typical level of VCE achievement in a school – show stronger outcomes for Melbourne Catholic schools, with results that now stand some 10 per cent higher than the equivalent results for Victorian government schools. Using the same measure, the proportion of high achievers in Melbourne Catholic schools is more than three times larger than the equivalent figure for government schools.
University of Melbourne research on the “value add” performance of non-government education has found that Catholic schools add an average of six points to tertiary admission ranks, or ATAR scores, at the career defining end of a student’s school journey.
A major Australian Bureau of Statistics survey has found that three out of four Catholic secondary school students will go on to university.
And a Curtin University study shows how a Catholic education pays real-world dividends, with Australians who attended Catholic schools enjoying a wage premium of more than 10 per cent.
At the same time, the Curtin University research shows Catholic school graduates enjoy greater levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
A major part of this academic and personal success comes from the fact that when Catholic teachers walk into class they see individual students. Teaching and learning programs are based around diversity and dignity and designed to engage students at a social and emotional level.
“The thing I like about working in the Catholic school environment is that we genuinely put the student’s wellbeing at the heart of everything we do,” Liam Buckley, a teacher St John’s Regional College, Dandenong, explains. “School for our students is not just about the learning of content, but the development of the person as a whole.”