Tassie Catholic school boom is front page news

Record numbers of students are flocking to Tasmania's Catholic education system, with this year's enrolments marking a peak, according to today's lead story in the Hobart Mercury.

The paper says that this week, 14,350 Tasmanian Catholic school students began their school year - the largest number ever enrolled in the state's Catholic system.

Waiting lists have also reached unprecedented levels, with 120 students on waiting lists for Catholic colleges alone.

Director of Catholic education Dr Dan White said the usual number waiting for a spot at Catholic colleges was between 20 and 30.

"This year there is very strong demand," Dr White said. "We are at the stage, particularly in Hobart, where virtually all of our secondary colleges are full and most of our primary schools are at their maximum enrolment."

Dr White said demand had been growing over the past few years, by between two and three per cent.

While the drift towards fee-paying Catholic education was encouraging, Dr White said it also came with the challenge of trying to accommodate so many students.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the Bishops of Queensland, Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane announced yesterday that Mr Mike Byrne has been appointed to replace Joe McCorley as Executive Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC).

Mr Byrne is currently Director of Catholic Education in the Townsville Diocese and will move to Brisbane to take up the role when Mr McCorley's five year contract concludes mid-year.

"Mike Byrne is a man of great faith, vision and demonstrated commitment to the ethos and mission of our Catholic schools," Archbishop Bathersby said. "He will bring to the role vast experience both working within our schools and more recently a period of outstanding leadership over some 12 years in the Townsville Diocese, during which he has overseen significant growth and development.

In accepting the appointment Mike Byrne said it was a great privilege to be offered the position.

"Catholic education has always existed to make a difference through our faith and special ethos and this is our identity in an increasingly secular environment," he said. "Both our Diocesan and Religious Institute schools have a long and rich tradition in Queensland and this role will provide opportunities to support and help build on the great work already happening.

Mike Byrne began his teaching career at Gilroy Santa Maria College, Ingham in 1969. He became Principal of St Margaret Mary's College, Townsville in 1982 and Director of Catholic Education in the Townsville Diocese in 1993.

Mr McCorley's five year contract in the position concludes mid-year when he will return to the Diocese of Rockhampton to take up a position as Co-ordinator of Adult Faith Education in the region.

School boom (The Mercury 8/2/06)
New Executive Director of Queensland Catholic Education Commission Appointed (Catholic Education Commission Queensland 7/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Tasmania
Queensland Catholic Educatino Commission

First-day nerves all round at schools (CathNews 31/1/06)

Teachers jump ship (Daily Telegraph 8/2/06)
New owner for old school site (Northern Daily Leader 7/2/06)

8 Feb 2006