I joined the Federal Minister for Education Jason Clare MP on a visit to St Felix Catholic Primary School, Bankstown last month, together with the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP and executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools Tony Farley.

It was wonderful to tour one of our high performing Catholic schools and speak to students and staff. St Felix has demonstrated exceptional NAPLAN learning growth for students from Years 3 to 5 over the past five years, among some of the highest results across Sydney Catholic Schools. 

As Minister Clare said: “St Felix is a low-fee-paying Catholic school delivering a fantastic education”.

NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins with student

The visit provided an important opportunity to discuss key topics affecting Catholic education with the Minister including the issue of ensuring school choice and religious freedom for faith-based schools; implications of the review of the National School Reform Agreement, and the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan.

The Catholic education sector was heavily involved in contributing to the action plan, and we are grateful for the continued support of the Australian Government and education ministers in driving reform and improved educational outcomes. 

As part of this work, a number of recommendations from the Teacher Education Expert Panel were accepted by the Education Ministers Meeting last week to strengthen the quality of initial teacher education to better prepare teachers for the classroom.

It is important to support and build the capacity of new teachers into the profession as part of the ongoing commitment by the government to attract, train and retrain teachers.

We value the federal government’s recognition of the importance of the Catholic education sector in prioritising some of the critical issues in the teacher workforce area.

On 7 July, I also represented Catholic education on a new ministerial reference group providing advice to the panel reviewing the next National School Reform Agreement which will look at the next bilateral agreements between states and territories, and the federal government. The reforms will flow onto Catholic schools in meeting particular outcomes linked to needs-based school funding. 

This is the first-time major education representatives from all sectors have come together to discuss future resourcing needs and I am particularly pleased to be joining the Education Minister and members of the review panel for a visit to schools in Central Australia at the end of July.

Finally, I congratulate our Catholic educators who have been recognised for their exceptional contributions recently. These include former NCEC Commissioner and chair of our Faith Formation and Religious Education Standing Committee, Sr Elizabeth Dodds RSC, who received the Brother Kelvin Canavan Catholic School Leadership Award earlier this month, and Vincent McKenzie and Katrina Cambridge who were recipients of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) Service to Community Awards.

As we commence a very busy Term 3, I look forward to sharing more of our work in the coming term. 

Jacinta Collins
National Catholic education executive director

Image top: The Minister for Education Jason Clare MP, Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP, Executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools Tony Farley, and National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins at St Felix Catholic Primary School, Bankstown. Image courtesy of Giovanni Portelli/The Catholic Weekly. Image middle: National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins pictured with a student at St Felix Catholic Primary School.