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Sydney Jesuit school considers female students

After 125 years as a Jesuit-run boys' school, Sydney's St Ignatius College - also known as Riverview - is considering admitting girls and expanding into tertiary education, according to a report in today's Sydney Morning Herald.

As the number of Jesuit staff dwindles, the Lane Cove school that spawned such luminaries as federal Health Minister Tony Abbott and art critic Robert Hughes, has released the radical proposals of Riverview 2025: the preferred futures ahead of next Friday's 125th anniversary.

The proposals envision students as either male or female; "primary, secondary, tertiary, adult or senior", and call for an on-campus centre for scholarship in teaching and learning.

The centre would teach bachelor degrees in education and hold residencies for overseas teachers and the staff of other Australian Jesuit schools, such as St Aloysius College at Milsons Point.

Riverview headmaster Shane Hogan, said the changes floated are "entirely possible", and drew on the input of more than 3000 members of the Riverview community, including old boys, Jesuits, and past and present teachers.

Mr Hogan, the first lay headmaster since the college opened in 1880, said that without a re-evaluation of its ways, Riverview was in danger of being "just a school that meets the demands of the middle-class North Shore".

The number of Jesuits on staff to guide the character of the school and its education had fallen from more than 20 in the 1970s, to about 12 by the late 1980s, to today's four - mirroring the order's declining rate of vocation in the Western world, Mr Hogan said.

Other mooted changes included moving the school away from the "restrictions" of the NSW Board of Studies and the Higher School Certificate; instead offering the International Baccalaureate, which includes community service and requires learning a foreign language.

St Ignatius toys with allowing girls as Jesuits fade away (Sydney Morning Herald 4/2/05)

St Ignatius College, Riverview

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4 Feb 2005