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Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we have Catholic schools in the 21st Century?
"Catholic schools, like State schools, fulfil a public role, for their presence guarantees cultural and educational pluralism and, above all, the freedom and right of families to see that their children receive the sort of education they wish for them." - The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, Congregation for Catholic Education, 1998
Parents and students choose Catholic schools for many reasons. Research shows that these reasons include:
- the Christian values taught by Catholic schools
- the care of students, teachers and staff
- self discipline based on respect for others
- the commitment to the holistic development of students - spiritually,intellectually, physically, culturally, socially and emotionally
- the pursuit of academic excellence
- a vision of hope for the future
Do you have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic school?
Our Catholic schools are open to all who want to share its educational goal, inspired by Christian values. In accordance with each school’s enrolment vacancies, preference is given to students who are baptised Catholic, however schools are welcoming and open to all who wish to seek a Catholic Education.
All staff share in the evangelising mission of Jesus and the Church as they endeavour to accomplish a mixture of faith, life and culture in the community. Parents are free to choose the qualities of a Catholic school, regardless of their religious beliefs.
How do Catholic schools contribute to the Australian community?
About one in five Australian students is educated in a Catholic school. Therefore Catholic schools make a significant contribution to the social, cultural, economic and political life of the nation. Students are encouraged to learn and develop their skills, explore their own values and discuss the Catholic perspective on a range of current social issues.
Who is responsible for Catholic schools in Queensland?
Twenty-three Catholic school authorities are directly responsible for the operation of Queensland's 286 Catholic schools. These authorities are comprised of:
- Catholic education offices in each of the five dioceses (Brisbane, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns)
- Edmund Rice Education Directorate (Christian Brothers) and,
- Seventeen Religious Institutes (Religious Orders).
The Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) is a peak body for Catholic schools in Queensland which has various responsibilities delegated to it from the Bishops of Queensland and Leaders of Religious Institutes, to support and advance Catholic education across Queensland.
The very nature of the role and responsibilities of QCEC calls the Commission to work sensitively, collaboratively and effectively with all the Catholic education authorities and organisations and especially in close partnership with parents and parishes.
This role also involves the Commission working with State and Commonwealth Governments and education and training providers in other sectors and in other Church sectors.
What role do parents play in Catholic education?
Parents are seen as partners with schools in the education process and the contribution made by parents to Catholic schools is essential and invaluable. The Queensland Catholic Education Commission works closely with the Queensland Federation of Parents and Friends to ensure collaboration with parents on significant issues which impact on schools. Parents are closely involved in Catholic education at the local school level as well as at diocesan, state and national levels
Why do Catholic schools have fees?
As there is a shortfall between the costs of running a school and the amount funded by Government, a reasonable fee structure is necessary for Catholic schools to operate and provide quality learning environments. Schools strive to keep fees as low as possible.
School fees are made up of two components:
1. A Diocessan Tuition Fee is set by the Catholic Diocese
2. School levies are set by individual schools to fund the operation of the school
Together, these make up the school "fees".
In general, even when the income from school fees is taken into account, Catholic schools operate at a lower resource level than Government schools.
How are the school levies/fees determined?
Generally, Catholic schools are responsible for setting their own school fee levels. This is done in consultation with their appropriate school authority. The level of school fees collected varies from school to school and will depend on location and the needs of the particular community.
How do Catholic schools cater for families from a range of income levels?
Catholic schools cater for families of all income levels and categories as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census.
Parents/carers who hold a means tested Australian Government Health Care or Pensioner Concession card are entitled to significant fee discounts. Famililes who do not hold either of these cards and who are experiencing financial difficulty are also enttitled to fee assistance. Further information will be available from the school Principal.
No student will be denied enrolment in a Catholic school because of their family's financial situation. New and existing parents should discuss this with the school Principal who will treat the matter confidentially and respectfully.
How do Catholic schools cater for students with disabilities?
Each of the Catholic school authorities has guidelines for the enrolment of students with special learning needs, for example, students with intellectual, visual, physical or hearing impairment. Each school has an enrolment process which is designed to be thorough and fair in assessing the needs of students at the time of enrolment.
The purpose of the enrolment process is to ensure the best possible support can be provided for these students.
The Queensland Catholic Education Policy on INCLUSIVE PRACTICES IN QUEENSLAND CATHOLIC SCHOOLS states:
"Queensland Catholic education continues to be challenged to respond to the needs of all in its learning community. Learning is centred in the strengths, interests and needs of all students including those with special education needs."
A copy of this policy is available on the Queensland Catholic Education Commission website www.qcec.catholic.edu.au
How do Catholic schools cater for students who are gifted and talented?
Many of Queensland's Catholic schools have programs to encourage students to explore new ideas and expand their knowledge. Information about these programs is available from the school.
How do Catholic schools cater for Indigenous students?
Catholic schools welcome Indigenous students and a variety of specialist educational and pastoral care strategies have been introduced to assist the steadily increasing numbers of Indigenous students enrolled in Catholic schools. The Townsville Diocese in fact has the highest number of Indigenous studnet enrolments in Catholic schools in Queensland.
Catholic school authorities have appointed Indigenous personnel who offer support for students and their families and professional assistance for teachers of Indigenous students.
Catholic school authorities have policies and guidelines in place which support the enrolment and education of indigenous students. These policies and guidelines have been developed within the context of a number of national and state-wide Catholic education policy and position statements.
Do Catholic schools work from a different syllabus from other schools?
Catholic schools follow the Australian curriculum and aim to support the holistic development of students from Kindergarten to Year 12 - academically, spiritually, physically, culturally, socially and emotionally.
Many schools also offer additional courses to extend the learning of young people. In the senior phase of schooling, Catholic schools offer a range of programs based on Queensland Studies Authority Syllabuses, Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses and various school developed programs and courses to meet the needs of all students.
What part does Religious Education play in the curriculum of a Catholic school?
Religious Education is an important component of the curriculum in Catholic schools. All Catholic schools are required, by the Bishop of the diocese, to implement a religious education program which is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Religious Education curriculum supports the faith development of children through developing their knowledge of and practice in prayer, sacraments, liturgy and scripture. Students are encouraged to explore values and discuss the Catholic perspective of a range of current social issues.
As well as the formal religious education curriculum, the Catholic ethos permeates all aspects of the life of Catholic schools. Students are provided with opportunities to participate in liturgical celebrations and many schools provide opportunities for students to attend reflection days and retreats.
Students are also encouraged to be involved in a range of activities which promote social justice.
Are students in Catholic schools able to participate in a range of co-curricular activities?
Catholic schools support students' development in the academic, spiritual and physical aspects of formation. The fact that students are offered a wealth of opportunities to be involved in the life of the school beyond the academiccurriculum enhances the vitality and community of the Catholic school. Students are encouraged to be involved in a wide range of cultural, sporting and service opportunities and experiences.
There are many options open to young people in their final years of schooling. How do Catholic schools support young people to prepare for life after school?
Students in Catholic schools come from a diversity of backgrounds and have a variety of interests, skills, talents and life aspirations. The curriculum in Catholic schools is designed to cater for this diversity and offers a full range of programs to suit students' needs. Catholic secondary schools provide highly successful vocational education and training courses to prepare students for the world of work and academic courses for those seeking entrance to university or other forms of tertiary education.
There is an excellent record of achievement in both vocational and academic areas of schooling in Catholic schools. The longstanding reputation for academic excellence in Catholic education in Queensland has more recently been enhanced by the recognition of Queensland Catholic schools as national leaders in vocational education. Students graduate from Catholic schools with qualifications which form a sound foundation for their future careers.
A feature of Catholic education in Queensland is the growing trend towards collaborative initiatives with government and other non-government education sector schools and agencies to support young people preparing for life beyond school. The Catholic sector's involvement in the Queensland Government's
Education and Training Reforms for the Future initiative Getting Ready For Work Or Further Study is a prime example.