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Amadeus, virtual reality and Ferraris signs of innovation

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Dr Jordan Nguyen, Engineer and founder of tech company Psykinetic. Photo: David Swift
Dr Jordan Nguyen, Engineer and founder of tech company Psykinetic. Photo: David Swift

Innovative new programs presented at Sydney Catholic Schools’ Architects of Change forum show the sector sees transformation as an opportunity, not a risk.

Architects of Change, held on 8 November, saw several new initiatives proudly presented by senior SCS staff.

SCS Executive Director Tony Farley presented the Amadeus Music Program, which provides 32,000 students classroom and ensemble lessons, and small group tuition led by hundreds of dedicated tutors and teachers.

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“We wanted to give every child from Year Three to Eight an orchestral instrument, put them into small group tuitions, and then finally in ensemble groups,” he said.

The program has been piloted in Auburn and Lakemba schools and its resulting success will now mean program rollout in further locations.

“It is a gift from God, and if seen in that way, it will be not just a child learning an instrument … but access to a cultural way of being that connects them to the transcendent,” Farley said.

Engineer and founder of tech company Psykinetic, Dr Jordan Nguyen, said advances in technology and science were a source of positive exploration, rather than fear and uncertainty.

“We’ve got to be able to embrace and shape these changes and realise there’s many different opportunities coming out, so let’s guide our students to innovate through inspiration,” he said.

Showcasing his own innovation as example for student potential, Dr Nguyen revealed the influence of his education on his later inventions.

Psykinetic has developed a mind-controlled wheelchair for elderly and disabled people, and a robot companion designed originally for his late grandmother.

He also works with virtual and augmented reality technologies to help people living with cerebral palsy and other conditions.

“We’re no longer just teaching the next students coming through, we’re guiding them today to build a better tomorrow,” he said.

SCS Director of School Support Damien Kerr spoke to the changes he and his team have made to transform the sports system into one of access, equity, and opportunity.

“There is only need to architect change when something is amiss or there are opportunities to make something better,” he said.

“In regard to sport at our schools, something was amiss, and we had an opportunity to make something that was great, even better.”

Leveraging the position of the 100-year-old Metropolitan Catholic Colleges sporting association, Kerr recognised the existing structures’ success, but also lack of variety and access to all students.

“Few had those great structures, and we could keep it as it was, but it wouldn’t address the inequity,” he said.

Changes now already in place have introduced further options in sport for girls, opportunities for visually impaired students and improved competitions that see schools in closer proximity to each other compete regularly.

“We have kids who one day are going to light the world up with excitement, so we have a responsibility to help these dreams be realised—we have to get the Ferrari’s out of the garage!” he said.

Attendees, including De La Salle Caringbah Principal Peter Buxton, are excited for the next steps in Catholic education.

“If you really put your mind to it, there’s nothing that we can’t achieve, and I think that’s reflective of our system at SCS, that’s the attitude,” he said.

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