South Australian Catholic Schools 2017/18

Your directory to every school and what they offer your child



Choosing a school is one of the most significant decisions a parent makes.

Children are increasingly involved in the decision-making as parents strive to find a school that fits their child's needs.

In South Australia, families have a wide range of schooling options including a Catholic education. But what do Catholic schools offer?

This magazine showcases the many strengths of Catholic schools including:

  • Excellence in education
  • Learning experiences grounded in Catholic values
  • Commitment to each child’s wellbeing and personal, academic and spiritual growth


See what every South Australian Catholic School has to offer

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  • Commitment to every child

    Catholic Education will launch its first learning statement in a bid to emphasise their commitment to every student enrolled in their schools. The launch will be part of Catholic Education Week, to be held at schools across the state from May 12 to 19.

    Catholic Education South Australia assistant director Monica Conway says it is important to acknowledge the fundamental principles of learning in Catholic schools in a statement.

    “The statement of learning commitment is grounded in our mission and vision but is deliberately directed at every child in our schools,” she says.

    “We are making a commitment to them based on our image of the child and belief in their capabilities. “We want to clearly say: you matter to us. In Partnership with you and your family your education and personal growth is our core focus.”

    The statement, which is addressed to “every child” in Catholic schools, describes the student as capable and competent and speaks of the school’s “high expectations for your learning progress”.

    It is the first time Catholic Education has created a learning statement, which was developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including school leaders and parents.

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    Year 7 students on the move

    Year 7 students moving to secondary school have opportunities to gain more independence and access to specialist teachers and facilities, according to the Catholic Education SA.

    Most Catholic schools in South Australia are expected to complete the move by 2019, bringing them in line with the rest of the country.

    Exceptions include primary schools without local Catholic secondary option, such as those in rural and remote regions of the state.

    Catholic Education assistant director, leadership development Susan Young says many students in their teens are ready for the learning opportunities provided in a secondary setting. “This move provides openings for our young people to continue their learning in broad and diverse environments that support their growth, formation and wellbeing,” she says.

    “All of our teachers are interested in the intellectual, social, spiritual and emotional growth of students. Shifting Year 7 to a secondary school setting can help primary and secondary educators to focus on the continuity of learning and ensuring all students thrive at school.”

    Ms Young says the move enables more secondary Catholic schools to better support the Australian curriculum which bands together Year 7 and Year 8.

    Half of all Year 7s in the Catholic system are already taught in the middle or high school setting.

    Several online surveys, by The Advertiser and Sunday Mail, last year found there is an overwhelming support to move Year 7s into secondary schools.

    Nearly 75 per cent of readers of one survey said they should be moved and more than 66 per cent of another survey said the move should happen in the private and public system.

    Ms Young says Catholic Education was able to learn from interstate examples to ensure a smooth transition and the move had several benefits, including:
    TEACHING the Year 7 curriculum in a secondary setting gives students access to specialist teachers and facilities;
    A SECONDARY environment offers flexibility that can help students be challenged intellectually; and
    TEENAGERS thrive in an environment that encourages greater independence and supports their social and emotional needs.

    Ms Young says some schools are undertaking building and development projects to cater for a potential influx of students and staff are working hard to ensure students’ needs continue to be catered for. “At the heart of these endeavours are our students,” she says.

    She encouraged parents with questions to speak to their relevant school principals.

    To find a listing of every Catholic school in the state and when they will begin offering Year 7 visit

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    Re-imagining childhood

    An early learning program designed to change the way parents interact with their children is improving the children’s communication skills and increasing parent confidence, according to a Catholic Education survey.

    The preliminary results are a promising outcome for the newly established Supported Playgroups in Catholic Education program. It showed 75 per cent of families taking part in the pilot reported their children are communicating more since attending the playgroup and 77 per cent noticed their child is more curious.

    The survey also found every second parent has increased the amount of playing, talking and reading they do with their children and 66 per cent said they sing more with their children.

    Catholic Education South Australia early childhood adviser Tina Adamo says singing is important for a child’s development. “Singing is associated with oral language development so it is very important for children,” she says.

    She says the program helps parents to be more engaged with their children’s learning. “The development of learning partnerships between educators and families is very significant and it can help parents to become even more engaged in their children’s learning.”

    The pilot program is part of Catholic Education’s strategic initiatives to provide early learning. Up to 23 schools joined Supported Playgroups in Catholic Education in 2016, involving about 1000 children, predominantly aged between two to three years. A further 17 schools have joined the program this year.

    Ms Adamo says Catholic educators are “re-imagining childhood”, fostering the core belief that “children are of inestimable value”. “We believe that it is important to establish emotionally secure and cognitively, sensory, socially and spiritualty rich foundations for children’s learning,” she says.

    “Supported playgroups are facilitated by an educator. They provide parents and carers with opportunities to focus on literacy and numeracy learning in children’s play as well as ideas to try at home.”

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    Choir takes to stage

    In a first for Catholic Education in South Australia, students will take to the stage of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in September for the Catholic Schools Music Festival.

    This year will mark the 29th festival, with more than 2000 students representing about 80 Catholic schools expected to perform across the two nights of the festival. Catholic Schools music festival co-ordinator Samantha Taylor says the performances should be on any parent’s to do list.

    “Each evening features an 800-voice combined schools upper primary choir,” she says. “A variety of solo, duet and ensemble support acts are also selected by audition and provide entertainment throughout the evening.”

    The choir alone includes students from 62 Catholic primary schools. They are complemented by secondary students who feature in the string ensemble, rhythm section and boys vocal ensemble. Tickets will be for sale through Ticketek from September.

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    Can you attend a Catholic school if you’re not a Catholic?
    Yes. Catholic Schools welcome students and families from all backgrounds and faith traditions.

    Are all Catholic Schools the same?
    No. Some differences between schools include:
    Type: Coeducational or single sex.
    Age range: Primary, secondary, or early years to Year 12.
    Specialty: Schools may offer specialist teaching in specific areas.
    Boarding: Some schools offer boarding facilities for regional and rural students.

    Is a Catholic education expensive?
    Catholic Education aims to provide affordable and accessible education. Fees vary between schools and can be viewed on each school’s website or discussed with the principal. Schools offer significant fee reductions to families during times of financial stress. Schools are always willing to discuss fees with parents and how the school can support families to afford a Catholic education.

    Is religious education compulsory?
    All students study religious education. It is taught in ways that are sensitive to religious diversity and respectful of students’ backgrounds.

    What values will my child be taught?
    Students learn in an environment where Christian values are promoted including social justice, care for the environment and compassion for humanity with the understanding that all human life is sacred and every human being has an innate dignity. This understanding of the human person is at the heart of the values that underpin Catholic education.

    What curriculum do Catholic schools follow?
    Catholic schools use the Australian Curriculum and cover nine learning areas: religious education, English, mathematics, science, humanities and social sciences, the arts, technologies, health and physical education and languages.

    How do I find out more about Catholic schools?
    Contact a local school to arrange a tour or visit

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    Head, heart and hands

    Before Peter Batty takes a group of students abroad to help a marginalised community, he always tells them this: you’re not going to change lives.

    “One of the things I stress is you’re not going to change their lives, because that is their life,” the St Mary’s College Enrichment Programs/Social Justice co-ordinator says.

    “But you are providing them with care, compassion, love and support.”

    Since 2005, St Mary’s College in Adelaide city has run a yearly immersion and social justice program aimed at promoting a local, national and global understanding of social and cultural inequities born out of history.

    Throughout the year, students learn about homelessness, gender equity, multiculturalism, asylum seekers and indigenous perspectives.

    Immersions started with a trip to Vietnam where students worked with disabled children at the Phu My Orphanage and have gone on to include two other annual trips – one to Cambodia to teach children English, the other to Oak Valley, in Queensland, to build relationships with Anangu people.

    Mr Batty says he prepares students by showing videos of past trips and while this equips them to an extent, it doesn’t beat being on different land.

    “It’s not until you’re there and you can actually smell and see and touch that it hits them,” he says. “They come to the realisation that their world isn’t the only world.”

    Mr Batty says the students, who are selected via a written application and interview process, often return with a changed mindset. “I’ve taken 200 students and a few of them have gone onto special ed or disability, and a lot of girls also take up volunteer work,” he says.

    “I have a lot of ex-students ring me and say, ‘can you connect me with the orphanage, I’d love to go back and do some volunteer work’. I had six women, now in their twenties, go back and do that.”

    Mr Batty says the social justice program is an important cog in the school’s culture and works on a “head, heart and hands approach”.

    “You can understand social injustice and feel it in your heart, but with your hand you can actually do stuff with them.”

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    Exciting times in sight

    Tea Tree Gully youngster Daniel Borg might be saying goodbye to some of his close friends for a year, but he has other things in his sight for 2018: a healthy dose of science and soccer.

    The 11-year-old Saint David’s student is one of many Year 6s set to make a historic switch by attending Gleeson College next year.

    “Once he got over the fact some of his friends from Saint David’s wouldn’t be coming over (to Gleeson) until Year 8, he’s been super excited,” proud mum Maryanne Borg says. “We spent a lot of time talking about it.”

    But we know the school, we know the format, we know the community, I’ve got two older boys who studied at Gleeson.

    “He (Daniel) may as well be in the first lot. And emotionally he’s ready. You probably hear it from a lot of parents but he’s a bit older than most kids his age, so he’s socially and emotionally ready to go.”

    Under a Catholic education first at secondary school level, the college will be accepting Year 7 students.

    Ms Borg says access to the school’s science labs and soccer program were two of the biggest drawcards for Daniel.

    “He’s really into both,” she says. “That was a big tick for him. Learning tech studies, students get an opportunity they don’t get at primary school.”

    Another parent of a future Gleeson Year 7, Fiona Couzner, says her son George, 11, currently at Redwood Park Primary, is itching to get started in 2018.

    “I thought it was a great opportunity (for George) to experience secondary school a year earlier,” she says.

    “There was no doubt at all, I think Gleeson’s a great school... the principal Andrew Baker is very dedicated.

    “He (George) can’t wait. By the time Year 8 comes around, he’ll have a whole bunch of new friends. To actually have a science lab (at school) is a big opportunity too.”

    Another local parent, Julie McFadden, was “dead against” sending her twin boys, Finn and Ronan, to Gleeson for Year 7.

    But after a meeting with the school, she’s done a complete 180 degree turn and the twins, Our Lady of Hope students, will exit the primary school at the end of this year. “I was a bit hesitant at first, I thought ‘They’re (the boys) not going to go for this’,” she says.

    “After the first meeting with the school I instantly changed my mind.”

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  • From the classroom to reaching the stars

    They all went to Catholic schools in South Australia and have gone on to excel in different fields of work. Now, these former students share their fondest classroom memories.

    • 1. Natalie Wade 27, Mile End, Lawyer, graduated St Francis de Sales College in 2007

      Natalie was the Australian Young Lawyer of the Year 2016 named by the Law Society of Australia. She is an in-house solicitor for the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion and advocates for equal opportunity, especially for people with a disability and vulnerable children. She is a member of the steering committee for AFL-4ME, a program run by the Intellectual Disability Association of SA which provides AFL tickets and suites to children with disabilities and their families. She volunteers with the Refugee Advocacy Service of SA and is an advisory member to the Every Woman, Everywhere Campaign advocating for a treaty on violence against women.

      “My best memory of school is the time I spent with my close friends who remain in my life 10 years on! We had many great times together in all aspects of school life including classes and extra-curricular events, those beginning memories remain at a core foundation of our friendship today.”

    • 2. Rose Whitehead 22, Kidman Park, Nurse and youth minister, graduated Nazareth College in 2011

      Currently working as a registered nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, she also coordinates social justice activities with Nazareth College students in her role as youth minister. She participated in the Nazareth Outreach Work in Timor Leste between 2012-2016 and last year went to Bathurst Island as a youth minister. Her outreach in Timor Leste prompted her to change her undergraduate course from teaching to nursing.

      “My best memory of school would have to be my senior year. I absolutely loved school and it is hard to pick a particular memory when the whole journey was a blessing. I was part of the first group of students to go through Nazareth from Year 8-12 so there was a special bond among the cohort and an extra sense of school pride which made each day at school so wonderful.”

    • 3. Jack Donaldson 23, Blakeview, Welder and business student, graduated St Patrick’s Technical College in 2011

      The engineering apprentice was honoured by the South Australian Training Awards as the state’s Apprentice of the Year last year, followed by becoming a finalist in the national awards. He was also recognised as apprentice of the year by the Australian Submarine Corporation when he was working there after obtaining his Certificate III in Engineering — Fabrication Trade. He is currently studying Business Management at University of South Australia.

      “The best memory at school for me would have to be working in the tech facilities at St Pats. I remember practising my welding and it just clicked one day and the penny dropped for me I could make a career out of this. I had been lost with my career for some time. I wasn’t sure what direction to take and didn’t have the self-confidence to pursue higher education. I spoke to my teacher and he reassured me that completing an apprenticeship will never be a waste, it is a skillset you will carry through your life no matter how high your career aspirations.”

    • 4. Paul Vasileff 26, Seaton, Fashion designer, graduated Christian Brothers College in 2007

      From creating 54 unique pieces at the Christian Brothers College fashion show when he was 17, to making fashion history on international runways such as the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, the soul behind Paolo Sebastian was recognised as the 2017 Young Australian of the Year. He studied at the prestigious Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Italy. His label has become well-known among celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Delta Goodrem and Kris Jenner.

      “My best memories would be lunchtime in the courtyard. I made some amazing friends during school, many of whom I still see on a regular basis. I launched my label during Year 12, so I have many wonderful memories of planning that first show and having the support of all my friends and teachers around me. ”

    • 5. Ross Morgan 37, Thebarton, Visual artist, graduated Port Pirie St Mark’s College in 1997

      Specialising in portraiture, fine art and illustration, Ross completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at University of South Australia in 2000. Owning a studio space in the Adelaide Arcade, one of the biggest drawing projects of his career was illustrating for The Legend of Ben Hall movie, in the official poster and the film end credits. His artwork can be found in several national and international collections.

      “My best memory from school was art and design classes. I loved brain-storming ideas and learning new drawing skills. I especially remember how excited I got the day I learned about perspective drawing.”

    The science of learning

    An Adelaide school is giving its students the skills to fill the jobs of the future by teaching them computer coding.

    St Joseph’s Memorial School, in Kensington, includes the technological skills as part of its STEM — science, technology, engineering and maths — program.

    Assistant principal Helena Card says coding is an opportune way to engage students in science, by relating it to subjects they know and are interested in.

    “For the children, it was a great entry point for them,” she says.

    “It was engagement-plus because it was an area that they were connected to and an area of learning that was part of their life.

    “Realising this was part of their school life and how they could make a difference … is actually contributing to their future.”

    Year 3 students were the first to be taught coding in 2016 and the subject has become a focus across Year 4 this year.

    There is no science lab at St Joseph’s, which Ms Card says prompts teachers to explore other ways for students to learn about science.

    “Our belief is you can be creative in your teaching and cater for today’s global needs … by exposing children to different styles of teaching which incorporate STEM,” she says.

    “We need new capabilities for new jobs and we’re giving them the best opportunity we can.”

    St Joseph’s student James, 9, who is learning coding through the school’s STEM program, says it is a fun way to learn about technology.

    “My dad’s an engineer so he showed me this website and I got really interested in coding,” James says.

    “I think it’s sort of important to learn code because in the future, it’s probably going to get more popular with lots of jobs.”

    Fellow student Rina, 8, says it has opened her eyes to the possibility of working in the technology sector.

    “I think maybe doing computer programming to make games,” Rina says.

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    Creating role models

    As a senior student at Cardijn College, Heath Anderson sees himself as a mentor and leader.

    The Aboriginal Year 12 student, who was born in Alice Springs, (pictured) is hoping to forge a career in helping people with learning difficulties. “I want to do disability work, kind of like mentoring, or something relating to that because I’m very interested (in that),” Heath, 18, says. “Some of the kids at school see me as a role model and that’s why I thought I could do mentoring.”

    His focus this year will be on completing the SACE at the Noarlunga Downs school. Last year, 96 per cent of Aboriginal students in Catholic schools in South Australia completed the SACE.

    Heath says the school supports him with his work schedule. “I do struggle with a lot of work at the moment,” he says.

    “Getting all of that work in on time is a bit difficult. School gives me that extra push and that extra support and it’s really helpful.”

    Over the years, Heath took part in several Catholic Education events for Aboriginal students. He says the events helped him to be proud of his cultural identity and enhance his leadership skills.

    Cardijn College indigenous education coordinator Tom Morris says the school supports Aboriginal students through developing a relationship between the pupil and their family.

    “That tells us where they are at and from there we try to support them with an individual learning plan so we can meet their needs as much as possible,” Mr Morris says. “We also make it a welcoming school for indigenous people and one way of doing that is acknowledging the Kaurna people at official events.

    “We do have ex-students who are invited back to do Welcome to Country and we are in the process of building an indigenous garden so students can get in touch with Kaurna culture.”

    Catholic Education South Australia senior education adviser Dr Roma Aloisi says the organisation’s leadership programs improve student outcomes and give participants opportunities to engage with Aboriginal mentors, elders and peers.

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    Marine study

    Star of the Sea’s marine discovery centre at Henley Beach celebrates its 20th birthday this year – continuing an educational crusade on behalf of a fragile planet.

    The primary school’s principal, Joe De Tullio, says the importance of the centre hasn’t diminished since it opened in 1997.

    “It’s about how can we look after the environment for years to come and understand the relationship between land and sea,” he says. “Instilling those values to our children is more important than ever.”

    Marine studies at Star of the Sea began with small aquariums in classrooms and hallways before evolving into a purpose-built centre. A new jellyfish aquarium has just been installed. Further upgrades will follow this year through a $100,000 federal grant.

    “The way children learn now is very different to 20 years ago so we’re looking at more interactive workstations in keeping with that,” Mr De Tullio says.

    The centre is used by Star of the Sea students on Mondays and Tuesdays and made available for groups from other schools for the rest of the week. In 2016, about 40 schools and 3000 students visited the centre, where they spent the morning out on the beach with a marine biologist before going through a number of workstations inside.

    Mr De Tullio says the centre provides a valuable resource as an excursion destination.

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    School life country style

    The Butterick children are no strangers to hardwork on their family’s Mid North farm, feeding its droves of animals and helping prepare for the annual grain harvest.

    “It’s busy all the time and it gives us independence because there’s always something to do, and often by yourself,” Bernadine, 16, says.

    Bernadine and her brother, Dominic, 15, share a love of the land, so when given the opportunity to leave their Caltowie home to attend boarding school, they knew agriculture must be part of the curriculum. And while their big sister had chosen to head to the big smoke to school, St Marks College, 53km away in Port Pirie, provided the siblings with an option closer to home. “It was a bit confronting when I first started boarding in Year 8, but I knew some of the other kids and the house parents were really caring,” Bernadine, now Year 11, says. “The school has a farm facility as well, so you still get to do some farm work, like training steers in the lead up to the Adelaide show. “It’s really like a home away from home.”

    At St Marks College, secondary rural students have the opportunity of five-day boarding on the campus grounds and returning home on weekends. The boarding option allows the siblings to still play sport in Jamestown and keep a community connection, while during the week “living with your best mates”. “I like it because you get to hang out with your mates after school, kick a footy on the oval and play tennis,” Dominic, a Year 10 student, says. “I’ve got more subjects I like to do, too, like metal work and Ag Science.”

    Although, he says boarding school is not without its challenges. “Not seeing your parents in the morning was hard, but after a few weeks you get used to it and the boarding house parents are really good if you need them,” Dominic says. “Your mates are there with you too, so you can have a chat with them if you’re feeling a bit down.”

    Principal Greg Hay says the boarding option at St Marks College is making quality education available to all students, regardless of their location.

    “The ability of allowing boarders to go home and not lose contact with their local community is part of our unique market,” he says.

    “They don’t lose contact with home and I think that’s why they come here rather than go to the big smoke. The boarders also make a real difference to the college, they have that great love of rural life that they bring to the place.”

    Mr Hay says the school has about 30 boarders from as far as Leigh Creek, about 340km from Port Pirie. “There’s rituals in their daily life and wonderful activities, like 10 pin bowling, film nights and birthday teas, to make them feel special and at home,” he says.

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