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Catholic Schools educate leaders, minister says

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Education Minister Jason Clare speaks to the students. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Education Minister Jason Clare speaks to the students. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Kids from South-West Sydney can achieve anything, and can grow up to become prime minister, children at St Felix Catholic Primary School in Bankstown heard from Education Minister Jason Clare on 27 June.

Mr Clare told the students that former prime minister Paul Keating was educated next door at La Salle Catholic College—although his wide-eyed audience recognised Mr Keating’s name more from the eponymous park at the other end of Chapel Rd, rather than his political exploits.

“Paul Keating went to La Salle College for high school, and then became boss of this whole country. And he’s still alive today,” Mr Clare told the children.

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“When I think of Paul Keating, it reminds me that boys and girls from Bankstown … from our area, are just as smart and just as awesome as kids anywhere in the world.

“And if you try hard and work hard at school, just like Paul Keating you can achieve your dreams too.”

Mr Clare joined Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, National Catholic Education Commission executive director Jacinta Collins and executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) Tony Farley for a tour of the high-performing Bankstown school.

Archbishop Fisher told the children and dignitaries that he attended four different Catholic schools in Sydney, and so knew the system from the inside.

His responsibilities with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference also gave him a big-picture view of Catholic schooling across the nation, he said

“So I love Catholic schools. I think they do great work in making little people like you into great leaders and great citizens for the future, as well as making saints,” Archbishop Fisher said.

Archbishop Anthoyn Fisher OP with students at St Felix Catholic Primary School, Bankstown. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Archbishop Anthoyn Fisher OP with students at St Felix Catholic Primary School, Bankstown. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“How many of you want to be saints?” he asked the children, with many raising their hands.

“Don’t we all want to be saints? Yes? They’re great at being human beings, and they’re great at helping other people. The more saints the better.”

Mr Clare and Archbishop Fisher were joined by National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins and executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) Tony Farley at the high-performing Bankstown school.

It achieved some of the highest NAPLAN results across SCS with 98 per cent of students at the school from a language background other than English.

With the assistance of school captains Dominic Nassar and Matilda Escolme, principal Fran Bonanno took the dignitaries on a tour of the school before they were entertained by a student musical performance.

She said the school had highly effective teachers and support staff with a focus on collaborative planning and individualised learning which was reflected in the school’s strong NAPLAN results.

“Good results come from good teaching and a belief that children can and will achieve regardless of their social or economic background,” she said.

Ms Collins said the peak body for Catholic education in Australia appreciated the support of the government, highlighted by the high-profile school visit.

“Catholic education is grateful for the support of the Australian Government with today’s visit providing an important opportunity to speak with the Minister about key issues affecting Catholic education, including 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,” she said.

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