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Cairns Catholic school goes to university with funding boost

University level: Newman Catholic College will be the first Catholic school located within an Australian university precinct.

PLANS are moving ahead in Cairns for the first Catholic school to be built within an Australian university precinct.

The Queensland Government has pledged $15 million for the construction of Newman Catholic College within James Cook University’s Smithfield campus, with the new high school due to open in 2022 for Year 7.

Stage one of Newman Catholic College will soon go to tender and a nationwide search will start for a foundation principal.

“As new schools go, this one is particularly exciting because it brings into play a range of additional benefits arising from its location and its relationship with JCU,” Cairns Catholic Education Services executive director Bill Dixon said.

“We’ve been looking at ways we can extend the benefits of this partnership to all our students in all our colleges and this has implications for our recruitment of graduate teachers, staff professional development, education research, extension and mentoring opportunities for our students, and transition programs.

“Even at this early stage it is apparent that there are some very significant advantages that will flow from this partnership.”

The first development phase will include construction of a four-level building with five design technology classrooms, four science lab classrooms, a library and administration area, as well as an indoor PE court.

The turning of the first sod is expected to go ahead later this year, stage 1 is due for completion in December 2021, and the college will be ready to receive students in January 2022.

Newman Catholic College has been accredited with the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board, a long-term lease for the land has been signed with the university and the design for the first stage has been finalised.

“Although we did not plan it this way it will be a timely vote of confidence in the local economy in its response to the pandemic impacts,” Mr Dixon said.

JCU’s Cairns campus director Dr David Craig said the university looked forward to working with Catholic Education and Newman Catholic College.

“Having a secondary college on campus will enable us to extend our efforts to raise the Far North’s participation in tertiary education, which we know is critical to the region’s future,” Mr Craig said.

Cairns Catholic Education Services Director of School Effectiveness (Secondary) Andrea O’Brien said local consultation in the northern beaches community and further afield had demonstrated enormous interest and support for the college.

“We have long had waiting lists for our Cairns-located secondary colleges,” she said.

“Current expressions of interest for Year 7 places suggest we will easily achieve total enrolments of 750 – 800 students when Newman Catholic College is complete in 2027.”

“Our approach has been to bring the community with us on this journey through our consultative process and the work of the college’s community consultative committee and through our engagement with the university community.”

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