Why St Agnes’ Catholic Parish has a unique and trusted Education Pathway

Coordinating Executive Officer for St Agnes’ Parish Education Stephen Pares says the unique educational pathway offered by St Agnes’ Parish has long been trusted and respected, and will continue to be ground-breaking in the next stage of its next stage of renewal. Below is an interview that Stephen did with Focus Magazine recently. 

Q: You’ve been in the role of Coordinating Executive Officer for St Agnes’ Parish Education for 12 months now. How have you found it different to your previous role as Principal of Newman Senior Technical College?

A: It was a privilege to be the Principal of Newman Senior Technical College for over 10 years. In my current role, I am able to work across the totality of the educational offering at St Agnes’ Parish. It is broad and diverse work that provides a unique educational pathway that is unmatched anywhere. I am constantly amazed at the commitment of staff and students from our early education centres, through our primary and secondary schools, and to our training provider who are so committed to creating this experience for our youth.

Q: St Agnes’ Parish has offered education to the local community for over 100 years, how has it grown over that time?

A: St Agnes’ Parish Education has a rich history and tradition of which anyone would be proud. Port Macquarie’s first Catholic school commenced in 1913 and since then, the Parish’s educational offering has grown to provide an individualised and holistic pathway to developing knowledge, skills and experience that is unmatched locally and the envy of schools on a national stage.

From this pathway, the Parish consistently produces great academic, cultural, sporting, pastoral and community achievements, which are largely due to the commitment of students and the belief of staff in what St Agnes’ Parish education offers.

Q: What areas of education make the Parish experience so different?

A: The Parish established its first early education centre in the 1970s and now we have three. We then went on to build three new primary schools, two new secondary schools and a vocational college to address the unanswered educational needs of the local community. Building on our success in the vocational education space, we established the John Henry Institute to continue training in partnerships with schools and after formal schooling is completed.

We are, in effect, building our own education system that is dedicated to providing an individualised and holistic educational pathway for over 4,000 students and 2,500 families every day. Importantly our pathway is not embedded to any one location – it offers many options across many locations, going beyond the latest and best facilities to create a unique educational experience for every student. This is ingrained in the approach across all of our teaching and educational leaders.

Q: What does the pathway look like for individual students?

A: Recognition of the importance of early platforms for education is crucial. Our early education approach is the springboard for young ones to learn and grow in preparation for kindergarten. It is here where a love of learning is nurtured and grown so that they are best placed to find success and joy through their primary education and beyond.

This approach continues at MacKillop College and St Joseph’s Regional College, where the educational pathway for students become the roadmap for the rest of their lives. For those wanting to choose a vocational path, Newman Senior Technical College provides direct links to skills development and on-the-job training.

It is important to note that the Parish were the ones that had the courage and innovative foresight to take the risks to invest in education locally when nobody else was doing it. While we will still continue to do this, the result is that we have a proven educational model that people trust and many others attempt to emulate.

Q: Where next for St Agnes’ Parish Education?

A: We recognise that education is changing and the type and form of educating young people is very different to what is has been in the past. There are many influences at work that will shape this new model. Locally, we have expanding opportunities with University offerings, industry partnerships and evolving opportunities in the region. Layered over that is our access to a national and international understanding of the changing future of work and communities. This is why we have engaged with national and international partners to work with us in building a new future for our education model.

We are well placed to do this as we have a culture of embracing innovation and tapping into new education offerings. This is because a great strength within the Parish education pathway, is that we have a very talented leadership group with extensive experience across many areas of education. We are also very fortunate to have over 500 staff and thousands of families who have provided us with extensive feedback on what our future may deliver. This richness and diversity will be reflected in the outcomes into the future.

For more information about what makes the St Agnes’ Parish Educational Pathway an exceptional choice for your family, school tours and an Information Night for Kindergarten starting in 2021 will begin in March. Find out more about the events at enrolinexcellence.org.au