Small school with sky high aspirations

Year one students with some of the technology on offer at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Year one students with some of the technology on offer at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

One of the smallest schools in the Sydney Archdiocese is achieving some of the biggest gains in academic results.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Waterloo has had incredible success in NAPLAN testing with every student achieving above both the state and national average in reading, spelling and numeracy.

And not wanting to rest on its laurels, the school with just 87 students – almost 60 per cent of them Indigenous – hopes to do even better in the 2019 exams which start next week and for the first time about half of schools will do the test online.

Focusing on STEM and in particular technology, the school is offering innovative subjects including drone piloting, robotics, Bee-Bots and coding which it hopes will challenge its students even further and build on its already impressive results.

Nestled among a mix of government housing and exclusive private real estate, the school with an average class size of just 15 is able to offer more personalised teaching and supervision of individual students capabilities.

A year one student preparing to launch a drone at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
A year one student preparing to launch a drone at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Principal Steve Lemos said the OLMC school community shows “quality is more important than quantity”.

He said the teachers are now building on their success using technology to create content, and the students are using technology to demonstrate and apply their learning.

“Technology is the way of the future, so we are integrating it into the curriculum and basically seeing how far we can push the kids with it,” he said.

“Our NAPLAN results are very pleasing but we can’t stop there, we not only want to sustain them but also improve on them.

“We are always aiming higher and as a school community have big expectations for the learning of all our students.

“Our school may be small, but it’s dynamic and future-focused and growing confident and resilient learners.”

Fr Paul Smithers proud of the school's academic success. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Fr Paul Smithers proud of the school’s academic success. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Attracting students from Waterloo, Rosebery, Redfern and Zetland, the school is not only one of the smallest but also oldest in the Archdiocese.

Opening its doors in 1858 and steeped in tradition, it is one of Sydney’s most historically significant schools with the Sisters of Mercy and Patrician Brothers both contributing to the rich Catholic heritage it enjoys today.

Parish priest Fr Paul Smithers said the school was “punching well above its weight” and he is very proud of its longevity and academic success.

“Even though we are in the middle of the city, there is such a village-type feel at the school which is lovely,” he said.

“There’s a real warmth and significant ownership in the spirit of the land of the school.

“Today we are a real multicultural community which is reflected in our students and have space to welcome new students.”