Why St. Paul’s? Why a Boys School?

In a very complex and dynamic educational environment it is useful to note some key characteristics of a boys’ school as compelling reasons for why a parent or a young man may choose St. Paul’s over another school or college. What is it about a boys school? Whether you are considering a school for your son for Year 7 or are reconsidering for Year 11 or 12 rest assured we are a high quality choice for your son.

St. Paul’s as a choice.

There is much written about what makes a good school and how to improve them; everyone has an opinion. What make s a good catholic school is a narower set of readings but the best of them in my exoperience is Educating Hearts – Seven Characteristics of a Good School by Anthony Maher and Bob Hanley.

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On all seven criteria I believe we present very well indeed and we hope that our families and young men can articulate that as their experience of us. However you dont hear much about this in the media. What you do hear about is results which are important but only reflect a narrow iamge of the holistic experience a school like St. Paul’s brings.

The following graphic of Risk Factors vs. Protective Factors is worth focusing on. When you look at the ‘service’ aspect which would refer to the school in this instance the college strives to be delivering well on all three aspects but of course we know we are always a work in progress and must always be working with a view to be the best of service to our young men and their families.

Risk Protective Factors

 

There is much research on Year 12 outcomes which point to clear gap between the achievement of boys in boys schools and boys in co-ed schools. I’ve spoken before about the perfomance of St. Paul’s by comparison with other schools in this region which bears this out. So I won’t labour the point but do ask you to please be swayed by fact not myth, folklore or old information that continues to judge unfairly a transforming school.

As parents we want the best option for our sons, not second best. We know that St. Paul’s has a higher success rate for boys at the top end than all government and Catholic schools in this region. 

Our value adding data indicates on a year to year improvement for all students across the range of ability fromn Years 9-12. The Gonski 2 report talks about such a notion as something desirable. Catholic schools through the analysis conducted by Dr John DeCourcy has been informing us of this since 2001.

To our Year 10 parents last night I spoke of the culture of Year 11 and 12 here at St. St. Paul’s with a broad curriculum and small class sizes where students are cared for and supported in their learning by a well qualified and dedicated staff who through the judicious use of technology anre supporting students to improve every day, evening, through holiday periods. There is a generosity which is admirable which quite franly you dont see in many schools.

With a developing leadership structure for our young men student voice is valued and contributes strongly to developing the culture of care and support we would expect in a catholic school with an Edmund Rice tradition. With the feast day of Blessed Edmund last weekend on 5th May,  our young men are reminded of his example of hope, that a problem can be identified and that we can step up and make a difference in our world for the betterment of others as he did, as Jesus called him to do.

Almost daily we see examples of our young men taking aprt in a rich co-curricular program with enormous pride and success. You only have to scroll through our college Facebook page to see the richness of the experience the boys have.

The care of our young men has been a hallmark of the college’s reputation for a long time. This tradition continues  and is augmented further by our membership of the Positive Education Schools Association and the development of programs drawing on the well of research around positive psychology led by Martin Seligman.

Why a Boy’s School? Beyond the academic perfomance question from Year 12 discussed above there are many compelling reasons to choose a boy’s school for our sons. Given I had my own sons educated in a catholic boys school I may be considered biased but I’m also someone driven by best evidence practice as anyone in the college or who follows my interests on Twitter.

A number of significant writers and rersearchers speak favourably of boys schools. The late great Celia Lashlie, herself a sociologist, researcher into boys schools in NZ and author of He’ll be OK. Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men, has this to say:

” I began a journey that has taught me much…left me with a strong sense of the magic about the schools where boys can just be boys and where the business of boys is the sole focus…By their very existence boys’ schools encourage a sense of pride in being male. In a world where there’s a great deal of discussion about the ansence of positive male role models and where much of the media focus is on the more negative aspects of young men, the ability of boys’ schools to provide an alternative view cannot be underestimated….The message in these schools is clear: it’s OK to be male.”

The INternational Boys School Coalition has published a list of six aspects in support of ‘Why choose a boys’ school?’ It identifies that they

  1. Understand and celebrate boys.
  2. Seek first to build good men.
  3. Know that boys develop and learn in different ways.
  4. Schools for boys teach in ways that boys learn best.
  5. Schools for boys help students discover and explore their full potential.
  6. Schools for boys foster brotherhood and lifelong friendships.

These are all aspects that St. Paul’s seeks to foster through the life of a young man in the college.

The American researcher Michael Gurian, author of a number of books on educating boys advoactes separating boys and girls on behaviour grounds; that in a co-educational context the discipline referrals of boys to girls is 10:1 which is attributed to what Dr Tim Hawkes, recently retired Headmaster of the Kings school and noted author on boys education as boys being viewed as toxic in classes because they are being boys- loud, smelly and disruptive- the toxic touich of testosterone.

From personal experience in co-educational schools, when boys are judged objectively differences disappear. The problem is they generally aren’t. Boys can articulate the inherent injustice coming out of primary schools. Boys need good teachers as Malcolm Slade in his seminal work, Listening to the Boys, points out and will flourish under such teachers.

William Pollock in his book, Real Boys, makes the point that schools need to be boy friendly and stimulating for the learnimng of boys, which St. Paul’s is.

Bringing them to a boys school like St. Paul’s allows them to be themselves, to not feel constrained, to be able to flourish. All the many different talents of our young men can be celebrated. Here we see the creative arts flourishing as a shining example of this issue. Whatever our young men aspire to be an education at St. Paul’s prepares them well for that.

As always I invite you come in and talk with me about your experince of the college. Any good school must be open to feedback and learn and plan accordingly in response. We are here for you and your son.

God Bless.

Chris Browne

College Principal

 

 

 

 

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ANZAC Day and Holidays

After a long and busy term I want to thank all the staff who have so generously given of their time and effort, often at the expense of their own and family time, even overnight, to ensure the young men of St. Paul’s have a very rich educational experience. I asked the boys at assembly yesterday to take the time to thank a teacher who has given of themselves for them. Gratitude is important and should be expressed lest our young men be selfish. Rather than have a mindset that everything comes their way with nothing from them we should ensure our young men have a mindset of gratitude for the small and large things.

I’m conscious that three of our staff are taking a group away tomorrow morning to Europe, traveling through the UK and Italy. They are sacrificing their holidays to take these young men away, responsible for them 24/7 for the time they are away, not an un-heavy burden. I know the boys and their families are grateful and supportive and I add my own thanks for their efforts.

On ANZAC Day the boys will be in Rome , will attend ANZAC services and be hosted at the Australian Embassy.  Australian units were involved in the campaigns to defeat the Italian and German armies in Italy. The RAAF squadrons- 3, 450, 451 all flew raids in different parts of the peninsula. Australian soldiers are buried at the Rome War cemetery which our young men will visit and commemorate by their presence.

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We will have students and staff representing the college at local ANZAC ceremonies. I’ll be marching in the city to commemorate my own father’s contribution as a member of the 2/15th Field Artillery 8th Div. 2nd AIF who fought in Malaya, were captured , imprisoned at Changi, Burma / Thailand Railway and in Japan itself. That he returned at all is a miracle in itself but like many of the 8th Division he was self made man who married, raised three sons and was in a much better place than where he started. I know other staff will also be involved in other parts of Sydney commemorating their own loved ones’ contributions.

ANZAC Day provides us with an important moment to put our own faith into action by recognising the capacity and example of others to place others at their centre, even to the extent of dying for others. We should take the time to reflect on this, pray for them and for peace and be grateful.

In this spirit the college donated a class set of old laptops that have reached the end of their warrantied life here to Sacred Heart College in Tarawa Kiribati through Mrs Michelle Teys from St. Leo’s College Wahroonga who have a sister school relationship with this very poor and needy school run by the Sacred Heart Sisters.

KIribati 2018

Kiribati is a nation very vulnerable to climate change through rising sea levels. The sisters are trying desperately to improve the education of local young people so they can leave and gain jobs in the region before their nation literally disappears in the decades ahead. More information here .

The college is in the process of planning its own immersion experience to Cambodia and is considering a number of options in the service learning area of college life to bring to reality our calling as a Catholic college with an Edmund Rice tradition.

We wish everyone a safe and restful holiday where hopefully our young men support their families with generosity and gratitude. Please take the time out as I discussed earlier to help them commemorate ANZAC Day also.

God Bless,

Chris Browne

College Principal

 

 

 

The Importance of Attendance at School for Success

The Education Act in NSW requires students to attend school every day until they are seventeen years of age with the exception  after Year 10 if they have full time work or are engaged in  a trainee-ship that is confirmed. Parents have a legislated responsibility to get their children to school. Principals have a legislated responsibility to do all we can to have young people at school. Ultimately it could end up in court.

Leave can be given for exceptional circumstances such as medical, elite sport etc. Holidays aren’t an option that I am allowed to support. Parents keeping children out of school  for such things as holidays drove the changes in 2010 to the Act.

In many schools one in five students aren’t attending schools regularly. while the figure is one in four across the Catholic system. Cruise ship holidays are the latest big excuse for pulling young people out of school, with other excuses including: too tired, I’ll come tomorrow, car trouble, two flat tyres, too hot, cold, windy, too tired and slept in. The issue is made harder for parents due to work commitments themselves meaning  many students having to get themselves off to school. The parents then find themselves paying catch up when they find their son hasn’t come to school.

How would such excuses go at work? We also need to be setting our young men up with good habits for life.

Below is a graphic from a colleague’s school in the Parramatta Diocese which is very instructive as well as being helpful.

Attendance

The impact of time away from school is very compelling. Two days a month missed regularly over twelve years of schooling adds up to one year missed.

One factor not addressed in this which we are very focused on is what is happening in classrooms. How rich is the learning? How engaged are the students? We want our young men to want to be at school. We are doing our part to improve the experience of learning. My last few articles which you can read below talk of the many great things happening in the college and the improvements.

Partnering the learning actively with parents engaging with their son’s Google classroom and assisting him to get his work done, to organise himself to increase the chances of him achieving success increases his motivation in learning, helps him persist towards success.  He needs to be here every day, on time.

Your ongoing help with this is a greatly appreciated. We are here to help if you need it. We understand that at times it is less than straightforward but we can help.

God Bless

Chris Browne

College Principal

 

 

 

 

Truth in NAPLAN and being the best school for my son.

We’re Top School in NAPLAN too.

What does that actually mean when there is no such thing statistically?

It’s important to deal in facts when considering a school’s academic performance. Comparisons are important too and the conversation out in the public space needs to be based on facts not on perceptions from the dim past.

Schools grow and improve. St. Paul’s is a definite example of that.

Are we perfect? No.

Are we where we want to be? No but we are getting there quickly. The improving performance is testament to that.

There is an extraordinary commitment in the college to be the best we can be. One example comes to mind is the twenty or so staff who gave up their afternoon to be trained as a coach to voluntarily work with our young men in Year 10 to help them achieve their goals. There are many other examples of generosity that point to commitment.  

When we start talking about points of difference the list on our side is long.

If you look at the public information on the MySchool website, and I would encourage you to do so, it tells an interesting story.

When you look at the gain from Year 7-9 a very positive story emerges that places us comparable to all single sex boys’ schools in this region of all fee levels. In fact in 10/12 similar schools tables St.Paul’s has the higher similar schools comparison. Fact.

Yet what is the public story?

One interesting fact: we have the highest writing gain of all of them from a lower starting base to a higher level of gain. Fact.

We have no intention in being dishonest with our community. We want our boys to be proud. We want our parents to be proud. Our young men are at a school that is performing well and is improving constantly.

It is very difficult to access the truth about a good Catholic school in the media as there is a resistance to telling such stories. Non-government education is suffering a distinct bias against it in the media. We know why the church is facing a tough time but it would be helpful if criticism of the church and schools could be separated by the media so parents can focus on the truth about schools, not what comes from a selective and biased media.

I am very aware that the ‘talk out there’ is critical for us. I’d just ask that it be based on fact. So what are we certain of, that is based on fact? 

St. Paul’s is delivering very well for the boys who come here. If they stay Year 7-12 they grow academically, socially and spiritually and, as our HSC performance from 2017 indicated, if they go somewhere else they are less likely to achieve their potential than if they stayed at St. Paul’s.

We know that the percentage of students who achieve University entry has been rising and passed 70% which is a figure to be very proud of. The HSC results were indicative of a broad education bearing fruit for all our young men. We also know we have a good reputation among employers seeking trainees.

As a parent and educator it is a mystery to me why I would contemplate taking my son elsewhere to achieve less. Yet surprisingly this happens. Why do we allow a young person, still in the turbulent throes of adolescence to be the one who decides which school they go to yet this happens too. 

Our young men leave here at the end of Year 12 as critical thinkers, problem solvers, competent communicators, creative, adaptable, curious lifelong learners who are going to make a difference in our world. We achieve our mission. They are exposed to  their faith in the context of a school with an Edmund Rice tradition that emphasises placing others at our centre.

I’d ask you to please be open to facts not perception, reality not folklore. I would also encourage you to please challenge incorrect perceptions with the facts. We have a good story to tell that our young men and our community should be very proud of. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. The narrative needs to be different, it needs to be based on facts about all schools.

God Bless

Chris Browne

College Principal

The College on Display

This week we have been visited by the Year 3 students from our local Catholic Primary schools and  we have had our Open Evening with hundreds here to look at the college and hear about the great learning taking place.

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It was a very engaging time for the 180 Year 3’s who experienced a range of activities across all subject areas- Science, Maths, English, HSIE, TAS, Visual Arts, Music and  PDHPE. They were mentored through their day by Year 8, 10 and 12 students who talked of their life in high school.  A very exciting day!

Our Open Evening was a terrific showcase of what the college is and provides for its community. Every faculty was on display, presentations were given in the hall by the College captain, Vice Captain and myself, our parents, staff and students ran a BBQ, our musicians entertained; a vibrant community atmosphere.

The feedback we received on the day spoke of a very proud and enthusiastic body of student tour guides. “Your boys are very proud of their school” was a comment many visitors made. Of course I agreed with them. We are very proud of them too!

It was a privilege to be the leader of such a special community of learning on Wednesday. It was also very humbling to see our community step up and promote our college. In particular can I thank our Parents and Friends Association who were such a great support on Open Day, not only through the BBQ but their conversations with visitors.

I’d like to thank all involved in the Year 3 Day and Open Day. We look forward to welcoming the young men we met this week into our Catholic learning community,  that provides a Quality Catholic Education for all young men in this region.

God Bless,

Chris Browne

College Principal

 

A Week for Celebrating the Past and Challenging Ourselves for the Future

Past

With profound appreciation for their talent , gratitude for the benefit such success brings the college and a sense of deep pride in the success of our HSC students of 2017. Their successes are considerable:

150th placed in NSW (improved over 100 places from 2016)
51 Band 6 Distinguished Achievers
181 Band 5 and Band 6 Results
100% increase in Band 6 on 2016
1 Top Achiever (16th place in Maths General 2)
1 All Rounder Achievers (Band 6 achieved in all subjects)
Top ATAR 97.95.

2nd place College in the Diocese of Broken Bay.

3rd placed in comprehensive Catholic boys schools in English
49th placed in state for English
100% Band 5 and Band 6 in English Ext 1, English Ext, 2, History Ext
15% students achieved an ATAR above 90
75% Visual Art students selected for Express Yourself at the Manly Art Gallery

The following awards were given by the Diocese of Broken Bay on Tuesday afternoon this week:

Award Name Surname Course Name Place or Mark
All Round Achievers Gus Reid
Academic Excellence Gus Reid 97.95
Academic Excellence Giacomo Nassif 97.65
Academic Excellence Isaiah Vumbaca 96.75
Top Achiever Matthew O’Brien Mathematics General 2 BDC 16th
First Place in Course in DBB Jarrod Adair Software Design & Development
First Place in Course in DBB Dante Cox Design and Technology
First Place in Course in DBB Marcus Crisp English (Standard) Equal 1st
First Place in Course in DBB Matthew Millett Construction Exam Equal 1st
First Place in Course in DBB Samuel Munday Info Process & Technology
First Place in Course in DBB Giacomo Nassif Mathematics Extension 1
First Place in Course. Giacomo Nassif Mathematics Extension 2
First Place in Course in DBB Matthew O’Brien Mathematics General 2 BDC
First Place in Course in DBB Gus Reid English Extension 1
First Place in Course in DBB Gus Reid Modern History Equal 1st
First Place in Course in DBB Gus Reid History Extension Equal 1st
First Place in Course in DBB Isaiah Vumbaca English (Advanced)
First Place in Course in DBB Isaiah Vumbaca History Extension Equal 1st

St. Pauls certainly was a prominent force in the Diocesan Awards.

At our High Achievers Assembly on Monday this week,  I made the following points   to Year 12 2017,their families and our staff and current students:

  • benchmarks have been set for years to come
  • they reflect on the great contribution of teachers and families
  • there is an opportunity for the young men at school now to learn much for themselves
    • they can achieve their educational goals here at St. Paul’;s –  the college delivers for its students in an environment that is best for young men to learn in. Our results prove this
    • Given that, what does my own personal excellence look like? What do I need to do to achieve it? Each one of these young men has a different HSC story. What is the story they  are going to write about their personal excellence.
    • What goals are they setting yourself to achieve?

“As we know it’s in the little daily things that we build our own excellence. As former four star General of the US army Colin Powell wrote; “ if you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters first.” Its not a new idea as we know, Aristotle the Ancient Greek philosopher who was born in 384 BC talked of excellence not as an act but a habit that we do repeatedly.”

  • How will they collaborate as a year group to achieve their goals at St. Paul’s? We don’t walk alone with our learning. They  have to walk together and support each other not just academically but through  looking after the well being of each other as well.  They walk together.

The Present

With our Opening Mass on Tuesday , Ash Wednesday service and Year 9 Grandparents Morning Tea it was an opportunity to clearly stamp our ground in the Year of Respect for 2018. At the same time in the Year of Youth in the Catholic Church as decreed by Pope Francis it is a time to reflect on our core mission as a Catholic educating community with a long tradition in the spirit of Blessed Edmund Rice.

On Tuesday at mass I talked about our theme of Respect for 2018, with appreciation to our 2018 Prefects who chose this theme:

Today I’ll focus on the third , ‘your life is not about you.’ This is at the heart of the Christian message; it is at the heart of Blessed Edmund’s call that we place others at our centre, not ourselves and it is central to our theme of Respect for 2018.

Yesterday I talked about your personal excellence and asked you a final question; how am I going to work with others to achieve that excellence. A key point is that when I focus on others, I benefit. If I’m driven to stand with the needs of others, as Jesus did , before himself then we all gain.

Respecting others is an easy thing to say and it’s an easy thing to believe that we do, but we can’t treat it like a smorgasbord. We have to value everyone above ourselves and place their needs before my own if I can truly have respect for them.

Year 10 for time immemorial studied a novel called To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The theme of respect is deeply embedded in that story. A scene that has always stayed with me is when the lawyer father Atticus Finch encourages his daughter Scout to walk in the shoes of other people to truly understand them. To truly respect someone we have to be prepared to do that no matter who they are, their colour, race, gender, appearance, level of ability, whatever. It costs you nothing but buys the earth,

You will often hear others talk about the notion that they demand Respect. Jesus and Blessed Edmund teach us that we have to show respect first for it is founded on the commandment of love another and in our dealings with other people always come with an attitude that assumes the good intent of my fellow man or woman.  It isn’t conditional. There are no exceptions.

So in 2018, our Year of Respect, let’s be role models of that. Your life is not about you, it is about others. Place others at my centre, show respect first in all instances. Let’s start as we want to continue from today onwards.’

Today we heard our values in action through our Ash Wednesday service and the launch of Project Compassion 2018. We look forward to our boys, as Blessed Edmund implored, “Give to the Poor in Handfuls.”

 

Let us remember our College Motto at this time also, Prima Primum- First Things First.

God Bless,

Chris Browne

College Principal

2018 Begins- Welcome, Respect, Challenge and Persistence, Pride and Placing others at our Centre.

Welcome to our new year at St. Paul’s.

This week we welcomed our new Year 7 class and a number of new students to Years 8, 9,10 and 11. Year 7 in particular have had a wonderful and exciting week of learning.

This week we also welcomed a number of new and returning staff:

  • Miss Madeleine Hogarth- English
  • Ms.Amanda Lazar- English
  • Mr Suren Krishnan- Science
  • Ms. Kate Harrison- Job Share Mathematics
  • Ms. Nicole Kanis- Job Share Mathematics – returning from leave
  • Ms. Beulah Prasad- Job Share Science – returning from leave
  • Ms. Kate Stephens- Job Share Science – returning from leave
  • Mr. Frank van Bokhoven- Business Manager and SLT

Our theme for the boys for 2018 is the Year of Respect which is drawn from our College values, ‘The Four R’s’ of:

      • Respect
        • students at St Paul’s strive in their everyday lives to enhance their ability to accept differences in each other and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
      • Responsibility
        • as Disciples of Christ we have a responsibility to promote justice and develop skills of leadership and teamwork in our students making them accountable for one’s actions.
      • Results
        • we are committed to challenging students to achieve their potential and  maximise their well being throughout all areas of the school.
      • Reverence
        • we at St Paul’s are humble in the acknowledgement and respect of God whilst being actively engaged in our responsibility of being disciples of  Jesus.

In speaking with the boys at our first assembly I highlighted the primacy of the Gospel message to Love One Another. In simple terms they can all follow we have talked about the importance of ‘Looking After Each Other’ and all that means; that they be accepting of each other’s difference, staff and students yet always treat each other with respect. Everyone is entitled to be safe in the college, staff and students. We all have a responsibility to support that.

This ties very closely with our tradition of being a College with an Edmund Rice history. This charism implores us to stand with the needy in our world, as Jesus did. He walked with the sinner, fed the hungry, clothed the poor, healed the sick. As Edmund used to say, “Give to the Poor in Handfuls”. To do that we need to place the needs of other people at our centre, not ourselves. Our selfishness can blind us to the needs of others.

I asked the boys to consider what is their own Personal Excellence, not someone else’s but their’s. In doing this I posed questions to them that they needed to set goals, what did they need to be able to achieve such goals, consider how they were going to sustain the effort to achieve them and how they could persist. I encouraged to challenge themselves. In the light of increasing improvement in school results we are challenging all boys to step up and improve their own personal excellence.

In doing that we are developing programs to challenge the more able students as well as students across the board. e.g. Year 10 students will be invited to participated in a challenge program under development to lift the bar in preparation for the HSC. Further the college is expanding it’s well being programs to support the boys in their learning as well as programs such as Duke of Edinburgh which is about individual challenge, variety of activity, duration, support and team work and recognition, taking the boys out of their comfort zone and developing them in ways a classroom experience is unable to.

We discussed the need to develop the skills of persistence / grit, skills our young men often lack; to persist through challenge to success and improved learning. In 2017 we talked much about a ‘Growth Mindset‘ which at it’s heart is about how we talk to ourselves, about self belief.

Grit 2

Our pride as young men of St. Paul’s is something we are making a priority of . We need ongoing parental support as we are also stepping up on how we make the boys accountable for their appearance. At all times our young men should be presenting themselves well in therms of dress but also as young people by their behaviour, that others recognise in them a sense of pride in their college.

In closing welcome to all, in particular our new students to 2018. I can be contacted quite easily if you need to via email christopher.browne@dbb.catholic.edu.au

We look forward to a wonderful year of learning at St. Paul’s in 2018.

God Bless,

Chris Browne

College Principal.

 

An Outstanding HSC for the St. Paul’s Class of 2017

What an outstanding set of statistics for our graduating class of 2017 and their dedicated teachers!

150th placed in NSW (improved over 100 places from 2016)
51 Band 6 Distinguished Achievers- 100% increase in Band 6 on 2016
181 Band 5 and Band 6 Results


1 All Rounder Achiever (Band 6 achieved in all subjects)- Congratulations to Gus Reid
Top ATAR 97.95- Gus Reid

1 Top Achiever (16th place in Maths General 2)- (Congratulations to Matthew O’Brien)

3rd placed in comprehensive Catholic boys schools in English
49th placed in state for English
100% Band 5 and Band 6 in English Ext 1, English Ext, 2, History Ext

15% students achieved an ATAR above 90
75% Visual Art students selected for Express Yourself at the Manly Art Gallery

HSC 2017

ACYF- Spreading the Joy of the Gospel to Youth in 2017.

This week has seen our Year Nine and Eleven students attending the Australian Catholic Youth Festival at the Olympic precinct at Homebush. Both groups have found themselves very engaged by the messages of the conference which have been designed to engage our young people about their faith.

As someone who accompanied Year 9 I found them to be a group who did themselves and the college proud as did Year 11. In fact I’d go as far as to say that they stood out, not only for their red shirts but how well mannered they were and how willing they were to engage in an environment that was, as they admitted , quite different to what they normally experience, yet were prepared to go with it and gain from it what they could.

Their world view could safely be generalised as limited given the life they lead and where they come from. It was clear that many never travel so far within Sydney yet many admitted to having been overseas or to other parts of the country, such as the snow. There was a real sense of odyssey about the experience. One lad was heard to ask quite seriously, his teacher as they passed through Mosman, “Is this struggle street?” Even over the Spit Bridge seemed to be quite a trip for him.

With this in mind we as a staff were very proud of them. As I’ve noted before sometimes we underplay our young people, lower our expectations of them. The St. Paul’s boys were very impressive.

A great learning for our young men was to come into contact with so many students from other Catholic schools; they too do RE, they too go to school masses, etc. Further was to be able to see the breadth of church mission activities represented with stalls in the arena.

A clear message in these times is that it is OK to be Catholic in our world, to have faith, to believe in Jesus and to be able to admit that.

Bishop Peter Comensoli’s homily discusses such themes . 

Congratulations to our young men. They really have shown how impressive they can be this week.

God Bless,

Chris Browne

College Principal

This is not what we do

This past week has seen the college focus on some critical but key messages that stem from the value of Respect, one of our four college values.

In our assemblies we have discussed the whole issue of  violence towards others. It is a complex and multi faceted issue. The White Ribbon symbol is a powerful one and the wearing of it is a reminder to our boys of the need to always treat each other with respect. However we have also tried to widen the focus so that they understand that violence towards anyone is not appropriate.

It is inconsistent with the message of Jesus “to love one another”, is inconsistent with the tradition of Edmund Rice and further and just as importantly it is has no place in the behaviour of the young men we seek to grow to manhood from this college.

There is a tendency for teenage males to not see this as relevant to them as it seems to be an adult phenomenon. However some, hopefully a small percentage,  can attest to the reality of violence as they may experience it at home. For other is a screen experience- movie or video game.

We have tried to make it relevant by taking it back to where it begins. Yes the example they see is relevant whether it be in the home or on a screen. Yet individually they engage in it every day and don’t realise it.

In this I refer to how they speak to each other. Their language, the aggression with which they communicate, any physicality they engage in such as pushing, shoving or even punching, it is all in some way violence and could be sowing the seeds for normalising  it over time. There is a link between such behaviour and what they do as adults . We talked about this ad  and it’s key messages.

FR. Richard Leonard sj, the Jesuit commentator on media and film talks of swearing as a form of violence. When one considers the aggression we may inject into such invective, the viciousness of our meaning I think he has a valid point.

However as the above ad sponsored by  Commonwealth funding notes we normalise such behaviour. We tolerate abusive verbal behaviour. We verbally mock friends or children and excuse it as ‘banter’, or as we often hear the boys say, “its just a joke sir”. Well, no it isnt!

That puts some responsibility on us as the adults who want to be good role models in their lives to be very mindful of just what our sons learn from us without us even realising it. We perpetuate it generationally, unconsciously and unintentionally. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.

In the same way an unhindered screen diet of violence and pornography so readily available to our sons requires us to be supervising them and not leaving them to it. How many hours are they online at home? Do you know what they are watching? Do you monitor their screen history? Would  a parent night on such a subject be worthwhile in 2018? Would enough people come to justify the cost of an expert speaker?

I also tried to get the boys to think about the need to not be hypocrites. What I mean by that is that there is a hypocrisy at play when we stand up hand on heart and pledge our support for non violence, to be against violence towards women or anyone else for that matter, wear a white ribbon, take part in a walk yet before or after have acted violently in some way verbally or physically. Wecan’t be part time Christians.

Our Year 11’s were privileged to sit through a presentation from Gus Worland on Manhood which really challenged themselves to look at masculinity in a new way. He challenged them also on some of the notions discussed above.

“For millennia, we’ve associated ‘masculine’ with ‘strong’. Now, we must also start celebrating men for the strength involved in opening up and unlearning destructive ideas that have become culturally ingrained.”

His point that it takes some courage to be a counter cultural male is a very valid one. I have challenged the boys to start thinking about a code that challenges any violent behaviour, any bullying, any ill treatment of students or staff as we are often on the receiving end also both verbally and in writing. I have suggested to our Prefects that we might frame it under the heading of,  ” This is not what we do here”.

I’d welcome your thoughts and would encourage you to take the opportunity to talk about this subject with your son.

God Bless

Chris Browne

College Principal