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‘Catholic schools should be free to be Catholic’ - Catholic education chief to tell Joint Parliamentary Committee

National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) executive director Jacinta Collins will tell a Joint Parliamentary Committee Inquiry today that “Catholic schools should be free to be Catholic”.

Ms Collins will appear with NCEC deputy director Sally Egan at the Inquiry considering the long-awaited Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills.

“Parents should have the right to choose a school for their children that reflects their values and beliefs,” Ms Collins said. “And for Catholic schools this means being able to preference the enrolment or employment of students or staff who are Catholic, or who are willing to support and share in the ethos and mission of the school.”

“We know from a recent survey that 63% of the general population, 82% of Catholics and 79% of parents with children in Catholic schools believe religious schools should be ‘entitled to require employees to act in their roles that uphold the ethos and values of that faith and the school should be free to favour hiring employees who share these values’.” 

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New Commissioner a positive step for regional education says Catholic sector

The appointment of Australia’s first Regional Education Commissioner will help support better outcomes for regional, rural and remote education, the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) Executive  Director Jacinta Collins said today. 

As Regional Education Commissioner former Senator Fiona Nash will apply her long-term commitment to regional Australia and oversee the implementation of recommendations from the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (the Napthine Review). 

Ms Collins said nearly 40 per cent of the 1,755 Catholic schools were in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. 

“We know that students outside of metropolitan areas are not performing as well as their peers in the cities,” Ms Collins said.

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Urgent need to finalise federal religious freedom legislation

The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) has called on the Morrison Government to move on long-awaited religious freedom legislation, saying proposed reforms to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act could curb the ability of Catholic schools to act in accordance with their ethos, and lead to unnecessary lawfare.

NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins said governments are obligated to respect and protect the religious freedom of parents who choose to send their children to a school where they will be taught in accordance with their religious convictions.

“The unprecedented character of Victoria’s proposed reforms will create confusion for Catholic schools, particularly in the employment of staff, and could potentially lead to unnecessary litigation,” Ms Collins said.

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Suggested levy on Catholic school families has no support

The suggestion that Catholic schools and hospitals levy families and patients to fund sexual abuse payouts lacks substance and won’t go ahead (‘Call for Catholic tax to fund abuse crisis’, The Australian, 13 November).

The notion that Catholic school families or patients would voluntarily pay a 1% levy is nonsensical, lacks any official standing and has no support from Church agencies and leaders. 

Recompense for those who have suffered abuse is vital, but ‘taxing’ those who use its educational, health and social services is not a viable way to address the issue. 

The Church is divesting assets, supporting small dioceses and contributing to Catholic Church Insurance to ensure it meets its responsibilities, without the need to place financial burdens on families.

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Australian Catholic education virtual symposium to focus on school improvement and student learning

The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) is hosting its second annual Virtual Symposium on Wednesday 27 October at 3pm AEDT with a keynote presentation by international educational expert Dr Lyn Sharratt focusing on school improvement.

The ‘Faith in the Future’ symposium will be held each year to mark World Teachers Day celebrated in Australia on Friday 29 October, and is the final national event for the celebration of the Bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia.

Dr Sharratt’s keynote address titled,‘This is the WORK!’, will explore the need for alignment, focus and resolve by teachers and leaders to ensure every student can meet and exceed their potential.

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Catholic education to enhance student learning through PISA for Schools partnership

Catholic schools across Australia will have access to the OECD PISA-based Test for Schools as a result of a partnership between the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) and Janison an Australian online assessment company.

National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins said the partnership will enable Catholic schools to engage in PISA for Schools with up to 50 Catholic schools participating in the pilot program this year.

“PISA for Schools aims to build teacher capacity and drive school improvement which contributes to our strategic priority of improving student learning opportunities,” Ms Collins said.

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Appointment of Commissioners to the National Catholic Education Commission and Chair of the Faith Formation & Religious Education Standing Committee

The Bishops Commission for Catholic Education has announced the appointment of two new members of the National Catholic Education Commission: Professor Francis Campbell and Kate Rayment.
Professor Campbell is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Notre Dame Australia. Kate Rayment has worked in Catholic education for almost 40 years and is the principal of St Scholastica’s College in Glebe, NSW. She will also take up the position as Chair of the National Catholic Education Commission’s Faith Formation and Religious Education Standing Committee.
In announcing the new Commissioners, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP as chair of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education paid tribute to outgoing Commissioners Professor Greg Craven and Sr Elizabeth Dodds RSC.
Kate rayment web  Francis Campbell web 

Latest NAPLAN results reflect the persistence of educators and families

Catholic education acknowledges the hard work and persistence of school leaders, teachers and families on the release of NAPLAN 2021 results showing no significant impact on student literacy and numeracy achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Catholic Education executive director Jacinta Collins said the summary results also demonstrate an upward trend across most literacy and numeracy domains.

“Given the significant disruption for students during this period it’s encouraging to see improvement in literacy and numeracy achievement, particularly the steady upward trend in reading and signs of improvement in writing,” Ms Collins said.

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National Religious Education resources available for Catholic educators

New video resources are now available for school leaders and teachers to support the delivery of Religious Education in Catholic schools across Australia.

The series of professional learning videos are designed to encourage discussion among Catholic educators through the unpacking of the Framing Paper on Religious education in Australian Catholic Schools (2018).

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Role of parents and families highlighted during the bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia

Catholic schools across Australia will celebrate Family Week from 8 – 14 August, to recognise the significant contribution parents, carers and families have made to the foundation, growth and continuity of Catholic schools in Australia over 200 years.Catholic schools across Australia will celebrate Family Week from 8 – 14 August, to recognise the significant contribution parents, carers and families have made to the foundation, growth and continuity of Catholic schools in Australia over 200 years.

Family Week coincides with the Feast Day of Australia’s First Saint, Mary MacKillop, who was a passionate educator and advocate for children and families, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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