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Man surrenders to police after Catholic school stand-off

There has been a peaceful end to a stand-off between police and a man at St Mark's primary school at Inala Brisbane's south-west, after officers were called to the school when the man entered the grounds yesterday morning carrying an iron bar.

The ABC reports that the 44-year-old man held police at bay for almost five hours as negotiators and family members tried to get him off the roof of a school building.

The students were sent home soon after staff noticed the man in the grounds.

Catholic Schools spokesman Tom Cranitch says the safety of the children was always paramount.

"Obviously in this day and age, knowing what we know, it's better to take precautions and adopt a safety-first attitude."

Police have taken the man to hospital for an assessment.

In other schools news, the West Australian reports that the states parents are "leading a national charge away from public schools to the private system", according to new student population figures released yesterday.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics school census report showed non-government schools in WA increased their student numbers almost 40% in the 10 years to 2004, while nationally, the increase was 22%. Queensland had the next biggest jump in private school students with 30% more enrolled.

Catholic Education WA director Ron Dullard said the major growth in private schools happened with new low-fee, non-Catholic private schools which had flourished over the past 10 years.

Mr Dullard said some of the values of private education - including dress standards, community service and a sense of belonging - now were being transferred into the public school system.

"I do believe that where there is some financial contribution by parents, they have a greater sense of ownership and where they have a stronger sense of connection to the belief and value systems of the school they will want to belong," he said.

Meanwhile in Sydney, the Marist Brothers' St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, has unveiled a strategic plan which includes a change in its enrolment policy towards admitting about a third of its enrolment as day students.

The Catholic Weekly reports that until now, boys enrolling at "Joeys" have been full boarders or extended dayboy students.

The change is a response to changing family needs, diminishing numbers of boarders from country areas and the desire to embrace the local community, Joeys will offer a variety of educational options including weekly boarding, full boarding and dayboy enrolments from next year.

And in Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, Archbishop Francis Carroll has appointed a new head of the Catholic Education Commission. Mr Daryl Smeaton will succeed Dr Ray Storrier, who will resign next month after 10 years of service to the educational ministry of the Archdiocese and chair of the commission.

Man surrenders to police after school stand-off (ABC News 24/2/05)
Joeys opens doors to more day students (Catholic Weekly 27/2/05)
WA leads private school boom (The West Australian 25/2/05)
New leader for schools body (Catholic Voice March 2005)

St Mark's Inala
Schools, Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics)
St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill
Catholic Education Commission, Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn

NSW teachers to be put to test (Narromine News 24/2/05)
Man on school roof holds police at bay (National Nine News/AAP 24/2/05)
More shun state school education (The Age 25/2/05)

25 Feb 2005