November 18, 2018
St Mary’s Catholic College principal Angela Myles is feeling excited about several programs that are being introduced into the school in 2019.
The first change is the news the school, located in Kingaroy, has been selected by the Brisbane Catholic Education to become an “Accelerate School”.
This means two extra Catholic Education staff members will be attending the school one day a week for the next two years as part of an increased focus on literacy.
The visitors will be working with teachers to build the capacity for students to practise literacy skills in a more organised way across multiple subjects.
Mrs Myles said NAPLAN data showed literacy was an issue across Queensland, particularly over the past three years.
“There is a literacy issue everywhere, particularly in regards to writing outcomes,” she said.
The aim of the Accelerate program will be for students “to learn to write coherently with purpose and meaning for the intended audience”.
“Students will be writing more frequently in all classes and across subjects, ie. learning how to write in Science, how to write in History.”
The Accelerate staff members will also work with teachers to introduce shorter, more regular planning cycles with the aim of embedding writing into lessons.
Data collected during the program will be tracked so teachers can get feedback on how they are going.
The second major change at St Mary’s is the introduction of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) elective for Years 9-10 students.
Mrs Myles said students have been studying general science previously, but the STEM elective would have a more “practical element”.
Students would learn how to “think outside the box” as they worked with robotics, programming and mathematics to learn how to make things work.
They would also learn how to collaborate, communicate and work in teams to achieve outcomes.
Mrs Myles said there had been great interest shown already by students in the course.
A Cognitive Acceleration Program would also be run for Years 7-8, using maths and science to teach students “how to think”.
Classes will be adjusted to provide additional time for maths and science.
The third major change will be the addition of new vocational education options for senior students.
At the moment, the school offers a Certificate II in Furniture Making and a Certificate II in Engineering in the Sr Dolores Carroll Trade Training Centre at the school.
“We saw a need to branch out into more than that to help meet the needs of the local community, at the hospital and in aged care,” Mrs Myles said.
St Mary’s will be offering a Certificate II in Health Support and Community Services in 2019. This will taught at the school but will also include work experience.
Mrs Myles said the school was also exploring the possibility of a future Certificate II in Hospitality, working in conjunction with the Kingaroy RSL Club.
She was hopeful this could begin at the end of next year.
St Mary’s Catholic College currently has 480 students enrolled.
Mrs Myles said she hoped the changes would offer a broader range of opportunities for students in the South Burnett.
[UPDATED with correction]