Schools can counter pessimism

Hope is God’s gift to us. But because it is a virtue, it is a gift that has to be cultivated, nurtured and practiced … (Paul J. Wadell, 2016 in Hope: The forgotten virtue of our time)

Recent Gallup polls have identified that our young people are becoming less hopeful about their future as they move through the education system. These polls in recent years have consistently found that less than half of students surveyed could be described as hopeful about their future, coupled with a declining engagement with their school. These are alarming statistics considering hope is a significant predictor of individual wellbeing.

 Schools have a wonderful opportunity to inspire hope-filled individuals. Catherine McCauley Catholic College will open to students in Medowie next year, inspired by our Moral Imperative to empower a Mercy community of confident, agile and reflective learners.

At Catherine McCauley our mission is to co-create learning environments where faith, purpose, fulfilment and joy are experienced by all. At the heart of this are our values: Hospitality, Compassion, Courage and Faith in Action, inspiring our learners to lead purposeful lives and contribute to a changing world.

A new school provides a wonderful opportunity to reimagine education as we prepare our young people to be hope-filled individuals who are both life-ready and career-ready. Central to this will not just be knowledge, but also the development of essential skills and capabilities necessary to thrive. Our learning approach will honour the uniqueness of each child and their exclusive strengths, as we commit to offering choice in the curriculum, and meeting individual passions, interests and needs in a faith-filled environment.

Students and their teachers will work collaboratively as co-learners, developing, designing and engaging in learning experiences together. We seek to co-create learning experiences that fuse the best of traditional practice with innovative and emerging pedagogical approaches. Our aim is to foster high levels of learner engagement and achievement through thoughtful and precisely designed learning experiences.

If we are to increase engagement and foster hope in our learners, we need to provide greater individual choice. Supporting student agency, leadership in learning and passion is central to our learning philosophy. Our unique Core + program is a genuine point of difference for our college community, providing students with choice, agency and ownership throughout their learning journey. Core + gives students permission to explore and develop their strengths, passions and interests. They will have numerous choices covering traditional subjects to bespoke college-developed courses and online learning opportunities.

myARC is the College Wellbeing for Learning Framework that seeks to fulfil our Moral Imperative of empowering agile, reflective and confident learners. myARC provides students with the opportunity to engage in learning in a deep and profound way as they are encouraged to bring their own experiences and life knowledge to the learning process. Every student has a story to tell. A child’s experiences, innate abilities and dispositions, along with their aspirations inform their story – their own personal arc.

Our stage-based House structure will be the foundation of learning and wellbeing, a place of belonging and a “school within a school”. Our Houses have specific links to the Worimi people, the custodians of the land on which the college sits. Next year, Wati Discovery House will be a home for our Years 7 and 8 students where camaraderie is forged, joy is experienced, and hope is inspired. The ultimate aspiration of Wati Discovery House is to have students develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their faith, along with their purpose as a learner.

Pope Francis calls us to be people of hope: “However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew; it rises transformed through the storms of history.”  Strategically positioned at the heart of our college is the chapel – a place in which our community can both nurture and develop their faith. The chapel is very much a sign of hope to all of us who travel the path of faith and continue the work of Christ through our lives.

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