Every day is an exciting day at Cardijn, I wouldn’t want to miss it!

We are only two weeks into our academic year and the media is already in full swing reporting on a range of issues. The cowardly attack on a young girl by a group of bullies was news which shocked our city, that something like this could happen to a young girl in her first week of school is just unbelievable. This bullying continued after the attack with online comments placed on social media. We have a very sick society if we accept this. The authorities have acted but sadly for this girl it is far too late.

Schools have a responsibility to ensure that every student feels safe and is safe. This responsibility is a ‘whole of community’ responsibility from school leadership, staff, students and parents working together so that we have the right culture and environment for a safe school. Our policies are robust and clear but more importantly our processes are deliberate to ensure that all students operate in a climate of respect for everyone, a shared concern by students for safety and responsible use of ICT and use of electronic devices. At Cardijn, our priority is that in these first weeks, every student feels they belong and have made a friend, that every student can go home at the end of the day and say they had a great day. We commit to every student being able to thrive in their schooling.

Another issue raised is the ongoing decline in Australia’s academic testing in relation to the OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Governments are correctly concerned that with the increase in educational funding we are still seeing a decline in standards relative to other countries and education systems. So, what is happening in schools? The answer is not simply in more money. When you examine why other countries are so successful you find that the answer is deeply ingrained in the cultural expectation of that country, the purpose of education, the value of education and the curriculum and testing. In our current context our focus is on a number and how that number compares to other countries.

So, what do you expect from an education at Cardijn? I hope it is a lot more than just that number which defines a young person’s academic standing. Education is a life experience which is focussed on the development of the whole person. At Cardijn it is more than simply knowledge, skills and dispositions. It is about a student developing key capabilities to function well into their future. These include students being literate, numerate and effective communicators, ethical, compassionate and ecologically aware of our precious planet. Confident, careful and creative users of ICT, knowledgeable, inquisitive and innovative entrepreneurs who are interculturally and globally-minded. Young people who are self-aware, collaborative and socially adept inspired by our faith and mission.

Last week we celebrated our academic success from the class of 2019. These included 55% of students on the Marcellin campus in apprenticeships and a further 10% into employment. It includes 100% SACE completion at both campuses and outstanding academic results at the highest level. More importantly, that Sophie Meynell our 2019 College Captain was recognised as one of 26 students in the state receiving the Governor of South Australia Commendation for the SACE is a testimony to our focus on developing the whole person. Sophie has clearly demonstrated all those capabilities that I mentioned above and she joins four other Cardijn College recipients. Sophie is the fourth consecutive award winner at Cardijn College. I think our education experience tells a story. This story is now backed up by record enrolments for 2020.

Other news includes the record amount of money that our State government is investing into our public schools with the transition of Year 7 into secondary scheduled for 2022. At Cardijn College we have not received one cent to support us with this transition, but we have been able to accept well over 500 students in Year 7 over the last two years. We have continued to manage our resources as best as possible in order to accommodate our extra enrolment and ensure a high-quality learning experience. I am delighted that the student central area is now well used at break times. Planning is now well-advanced for the start of Stage 3, our 18.5M Senior School and Innovation Centre. This project is self-funded, and I am grateful for our family support to make these facilities a reality. We are building to ensure our future is well catered for. On our Marcellin campus we are delighted that the development is nearing completion and our Café is set to open next Monday. Every day is an exciting day at Cardijn, I wouldn’t want to miss it!

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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