College principals welcome school extension

By Veronika Cox

The extension of three Catholic schools in the state’s south is an exciting opportunity to support and empower students during a time of great change in their lives, according to the principals.

MacKillop Catholic College, St Virgil’s College and St Aloysius Catholic College will provide Year 11 and 12 education from 2023, as the Greater Hobart Catholic Extension Project launched in 2020 comes to fruition.

MacKillop Catholic College principal, Stephen Hill, said the extension would provide the families of Hobart’s eastern shore with a high-quality, faith-based education from Year 7-12.

“Families with a commitment to catholic education, who value child-centred education, will now be able to commence their child’s learning journey at any of our four feeder eastern shore Catholic primary schools confident in the knowledge that their child will be able to continue and complete Years 7-12 at MacKillop Catholic College without them having to make an additional transition,” he said.

“Many of our parents have reflected on the challenges they experienced when, as young adults, they were required to transition to a college for Years 11 and 12. With this in mind, they see the value of the strong emphasis that MacKillop Catholic College places on knowing and responding to the learning needs of each child.”

St Aloysius principal, Eamonn Pollard, agreed, saying the choice to be able to stay locally within a quality teaching program was a huge incentive not only for students, but also for families.

“As a college known for our strong Catholic values and identity, our mission is to empower students to become positive contributors to our local community and beyond,” he said.

“St Aloysius Catholic College combines the care of a close-knit community with the extensive range of opportunities of a large college; supported also by an even larger co-operative of Catholic colleges. In knowing each of our students, and working with the community, we will holistically provide for every student’s academic, personal, pastoral and spiritual needs.”

St Virgil’s College principal, Jon Franzin, said the community was excited to re-establish its long and proud tradition of providing high quality senior secondary Catholic education for boys.

Construction is underway at St Virgil’s College in preparation for the expansion. Photo: Shelley Medhurst SVC

“To do this in partnership with other schools is a great privilege and presents great opportunities for Catholic education in Hobart and surrounds,” he said.

“The St Virgil’s College community is very excited about the addition of Year 11 and 12 as it removes the pressure for boys to have to transition to another school at what is already a time of great change in their lives. We know these young men; how they best learn, what support they need to thrive and how we can best support them when faced by challenges in their lives. For St Virgil’s, having two more years to work with our young men is invaluable in supporting their formation as good men of faith, character, leadership and service to others.”

Guilford Young College and St Mary’s College currently provide Year 11 and 12 education in the Greater Hobart area.

Guilford Young College principal, Craig Deayton, said the extension of St. Virgil’s, St Aloysius and MacKillop College was a positive development for senior secondary education in Hobart.

“It promises to give students and parents more choice in education in the final years. Overall, we will have much more enrolment capacity in the system and many more teachers experienced at the senior secondary level,” he said.

“Guilford Young College will remain the specialist 11 and 12 provider with a highly experienced and well qualified teaching staff strongly invested in providing Level 3 and 4 TASC course preparing students for university entrance and, as one of Tasmania’s largest Registered Training Organisations (RTO) provision of equally specialist VET courses.”

St Mary’s College principal Damian Messer, said Tasmania’s problem with retention rates was that, when students finished Year 10 then had to make a choice about where to go for Year 11 and 12. 

“For many students, the choice was to opt out,” he said.

“I think that remaining at the same school, for most students, is a good thing as it allows continuity of relationships with their peers and their teachers and continuity of expectations.  Students moving to a new school for Year 11 have to cope with a lot of change which, for many students, is very stressful.”

Mr Messer said having Year 11-12 students at the school provided role models and leadership for the younger students.

“Teachers also get to see our students as they graduate at the end of Year 12, and everyone who has been involved in their education has a sense of pride caused by the fact that they have played a part in helping that student get to that milestone,” he said.

Executive Director of Catholic Education in Tasmania, Dr Gerard Gaskin, said the project marked an exciting time in Catholic education.

“The benefits will see improved retention to Catholic education and, more broadly, Tasmanian education,” he said.

“We’re achieving this by providing students with a broader range of pathways to successfully complete their education.”

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