Change Coming in the NSW Curriculum

I’ve been meaning to get back to this blog for some time though Covid 19 and all that has entailed diverted me . However today brings an exciting opportunity to start again with announcements made today.

This morning the Premier and NSW Minister of Education announced the government’s response to the review of the NSW Curriculum by Professor Geoff Masters.



NSW Government response to the NSW Curriculum Review final report

NSW Curriculum Review Report

NESA announcement

From our perspective here at St Paul’s this is a very exciting development and we hope the NSW government embraces the opportunity to truly transform education in NSW.  We have been working over the past twelve months in partnership with the Future Schools Alliance and Dr Linda Bendikson to rethink our purpose as a college to position our college for the future. This led to the COURAGE framework as a descriptor of graduate attributes.








How are we doing this? By already developing programs that build on students strengths and passions, packaging curriculum pathways for our young men that position them for the workforce with the seven clusters of work identified by the Foundation for Young Australians

It is most pleasing to see the focus on core skills in the early years that will provide a better learning platform for all students.

However the most significant innovation for us is two fold- more flexible learning pathways for stage 6 students (Year 11 &12) and a review of the ATAR. The Shergold report into the ATAR coupled with Professor Masters recommendation will hopefully put to bed this reductive approach to “classify” students and see all institutions take a broader view of a person’s suitability for tertiary study looking at their capabilities and dispositions as well as their results at school. After all baased on the universities own figures they have only seen an ATAR used by 1/4 of students as the only way to enter university.

Interesting times indeed!

Chris Browne

College Principal

Precision Guiding Improvement- COURAGE 2019

Through 2019 the middle and senior leadership of the college has been sharpening what we are about to ensure clarity in targets and teacher actions. This work took many weeks of collaboration across all staff looking at the three domains we are given by the diocese annually for school improvement of Learning and Teaching, Wellbeing for Learning and Mission. It is underpinned by the Diocese Learning Principles which has this important preamble:

We understand that in order to engage our students in active, relevant learning that constantly builds their knowledge across a broad range of content and skill areas, teachers across the Diocesan School System need to be both challenged and supported to deepen their own knowledge of curriculum, assessment and instruction. The result is dynamic teaching that directly and intelligently responds to student learning needs, informed by curriculum expectations.

Earlier in the year we published COURAGE, an acronym that summarises the characteristics we want to see in a graduate of our college. We began with Teaching and Learning. As learners a graduate of the college will have







Ethical awareness

In order for this to occur there are teacher actions / dispositions that are required.

Through Teacher Actions:

  • Every student is valued and accommodated as a capable learner

  • Learning is purposeful, relevant and rigorous

  • Students are provided with opportunities to self direct their learning

  • Students are supported to think, collaborate, create and communicate in their learning

  • Students reflect on and  respond to feedback in order to improve their learning

Further work with staff has concluded our profiles for Wellbeing for Learning and Mission.

Through a focus on Wellbeing for Learning there are also required teacher actions / dispositions:

Through Teacher Actions:

  • Each individual’s capabilities are acknowledged and celebrated. 

  • Students are able to recognise and regulate emotions

  • Students develop empathy for others and take responsibility for themselves 

  • Students work effectively both individually and in teams. 

  • Students are empowered to handle challenging situations 

  • Students are given opportunities to develop social and personal capabilities for life. 

Through a focus on Mission informed by our faith, Catholic Social Teaching and the example of our founder Blessed Edmund Rice there are also teacher actions / dispositions that are required:

Through Teacher Actions:

  • Students value inclusion, acceptance and tolerance 

  • Students have the opportunity to participate in worship, and put faith in action in the spirit of Blessed Edmund Rice

  • Students demonstrate stewardship through service 

  • Students grow in discernment, making careful distinctions in thinking about truth (understanding others’ perspective) 

  • Students respect self, others, environment and God 

2020 sees us with clear targets set against this framework to make us accountable to ourselves and our community. Much discussion was entered into by each team of staff to set clear targets for themselves under college targets. These will be measured and checked in on as the year progresses to ensure we meet the ongoing improvements in outcomes we have set yourselves .

An exciting year ahead.

Strengths and the Future of Work

What is your passion?

Earlier this year we spent some time with our students looking at character strengths utilising the tool which identified for them their three highest strengths of a range of twenty four. These were discussed from that point of view of self awareness and wellbeing, part of our social and emotional learning program this year.

In previous posts we have discussed the work of the Foundation for Young Australians and the notion of their now being seven job clusters when we profile the employment market. In further research we have also identified that there can be an alignment with an awareness of character strengths and the sorts of jobs young people van be preparing for.


Year after year I speak with young men and their parents who talk about him not knowing what he wants to do. The spectre of the HSC gives the impression that the stakes are so high. The conversation often begins many years into secondary school.

With a focus on character strengths and and how they align with job clusters young people can identify early in their school career the sort of job cluster that may align with and the skills needed for success in that area. The viacharacter youth profile asks them to identify their top three strengths. Using the information presented the student gets a sense of what those strengths imply e.g. if the top strength is ‘kindness’ along with ‘teamwork’ and ‘social intelligence’ that might point to the cluster of jobs called ‘The Carers’ – jobs that jobs that seek to improve the mental or physical health or well-being
of others, including medical, care and personal support services.

As the FYA report notes, the Carers seek to improve the mental or physical health or well-being of others, including medical, care and personal support services. The types of jobs this includes are:  GPs, social workers, childcare workers, fitness instructors, surgeons, counsellors and beauty therapists. The industries closely linked with this job cluster include Health Care and Social Assistance.

The alignment of character strengths and job clusters is a very useful beginning to the development of a pathway for young people to begin to think about their future in a far more informed way. This can be further augmented when one considers the work of Inner Zone and their notion of a personal SIM- Strengths, Interests, Motivation.


The ‘S’ is picked up by the survey and the ‘I’ and ‘M’ are picked up by a coaching relationship with a teacher, in our case, a PC teacher who where possible stays with the young man on their journey through the college. This is strongly supported by parent engagement.

All in all our young men will be well placed going forward.

God Bless,

Chris Browne




Welcome to Term Three.

The combined leadership of the College has been working together  for the last term with Dr Linda Bendikson from the University of Auckland focusing on our leadership skills as a team with a view to enhancing a collective approach to leadership in the college. In schools we have traditionally appointed people based on an identifiable skill set and the wise senior leaders seek to train them as a group  to ensure a strong collective ethos and common forward direction focused on a clear and unequivocal sense of what we are trying to achieve for the young men of the college

Our approach with Dr Bendikson is evidence based drawing on the work of significant research done over the past decade through the University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership including such luminaries as John Hattie, Viviane Robinson, Helen Timperley, David Eddy and Linda herself. Major works around what makes a difference in learning, student centred leadership, relational trust, the inquiry cycle are all deeply embedded in this work.

Dr Bendikson (2019) presented this slide to us as a very useful summation to drive our work. Our ‘why’ as we looked the research.

Bendikson 2019

Through six sessions of work with them the team has identified the need to clarify just what it is we seek for a graduate to be. This then led to a series of meetings of middle and senior leadership as well as the whole staff last Monday formulate and consider just what those characteristics are and their implications for our planning going forward. In the learning domain we have identified the following characteristics:








These are being mapped against the NSW Quality Teaching framework and the Diocese of Broken Bay Learning Principles. Our Learning goal of Agency for the next three years is an outcome of COURAGE.

COURAGE is the ‘Learner Centred Vision’ referred to above.


The notion of COURAGE is currently being explored in relation to Wellbeing and Mission as well. We will report on this in due course as we firm these up. Our communication in and out of the college will emphasise these characteristics in a way that may seem relentless but we want these to permeate their thinking and be the culture of the college. They will certainly be clear on what learning with courage means.

A good question to be asking our students each day is “How did you learn with COURAGE today?”

God Bless

Chris Browne



The Individual at the Heart of the College.

There has been a considerable amount of analysis and planning over the past two years about what has happened to our numbers. Parents have , in particular been surveyed by the Resonate group and by Dr. Michael Bezzina. The first concluded much about the value proposition and the latter has honed in on just what it is that our community actually values about St. Paul’s, something I keep hearing about from everyone, which is  the deep care of the individual. This is something that many schools can say they strive for but in fact, on close examination, the larger than get, the harder it is to hand on heart say that is what the school actually achieves.

St. Paul’s on the other hand is uniquely placed to focus on the individual. Not being a large school we have the virtue of actually being able to claim with a high degree of certainty that students are known and cared for, that they don’t fall through the cracks. This provides us with a constant challenge to live up to that,  which we strive to do. It is a high bar to set but we are committed to reaching it.

Recently as a staff, we explored with Dr. Anthony Maher the challenge of the ‘Mission’ of what it means to work in a Catholic school. It was increasingly heartening and reassuring to be witness to the profound dedication of the staff in the college who could see in their daily actions how they in fact fulfill the mission for the boys in their care.


Dr Maher presented the two competing standards, one that is the gift of a quality Catholic Education and the other the prevailing and strengthening paradigm of ‘mobilised ignorance’ that our graduates should be able to discern away from. The tragedy of the day is that ‘mobilised ignorance’ seems to be more and more valued in our society even on the international stage. Just one example.

The principles that underpin Catholic Mission in our schools surely are what we want to see in our sons? We are committed to fostering that no matter how counter cultural it may be becoming.

Our focus on the ‘Individual’ at the heart of what we do also encompasses our Wellbeing and Learning agendas. Our wellbeing agenda driven is by a positive education focus. This is centered on the notion that we want all our young men to flourish in life. This has seen us explicitly teaching the boys social and emotional skills as well as a rigorous approach to attendance and punctuality which raise a range of wellbeing issues to attend to for our boys and their families.

The diocese has begun a program to explore these issues with our community and connect the issue of attendance with wellbeing and learning. The impacts can be significant and life changing. Please have a look here


Next time I will discuss with you further work in the teaching and learning space and how we are working for our young men to have ‘agency’ in their learning.

God Bless.

Chris Browne

College Principal

Are you an Edmund Rice Person? A challenge for all of us.

Announcement re this blog:

On advice from a social media consultant utilised by the Catholic Schools Office I will provide a short article per fortnight in the college newsletter as that is where official college communications apparently should be found. This blog came about due to issues with our old newsletter provider. Now with Schoolzine that is a redundant issue. I will continue to blog on educational issues and you are welcome to check in if you wish and engage with it as many have done.


On the Feast Day of Blessed Edmund Rice 2019. 

At our College Assembly this week we celebrated the Feast day of Blessed Edmund Rice which is observed internationally on 5th May each year. As a college in its 90th year in the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice it is an important moment to stop and reflect on the ‘why’ of this college as Simon Sinek would encourage and challenge ourselves to apply his example to our lives.

Below is what I said to our young men this week on this subject.

Today we remember Blessed Edmund Rice.

Born in 1762 and died in 1844 in Waterford Ireland, founder of the Christian brothers who founded this school

You have heard today of the four pillars of an Edmund Rice Education- a Liberating Education, Gospel Spirituality, an Inclusive community and Justice and Solidarity.

This school was founded on those principles 90 years ago and they are alive today. They have implications for us. What we need to do is interpret the example of Blessed Edmund for today.

Br Philip Pinto, the former International Province Leader of the Christian Brothers, the order that Edmund founded  in 1820, challenges us with the question,

“You are a member of an Edmund Rice school but are you an Edmund Rice person?”

Please listen to his wise words here.

As we have discussed many times, the notion of us placing others at our centre is the challenge we face as an Edmund Rice person.

Can you do that?

In doing that we advocate for justice and we stand in solidarity with the poor. In so doing we then have that sense that we are part of them and they are part of us. However we cannot remain silent. We have to advocate for them, be the voice for those who can’t speak.

If we don’t who will?

We have to be people of principle, stand up for the poor. Blessed Edmund did. It was dangerous. He stood up for the poor Irish catholic young men of Waterford in times in his country when it was something the community leaders and rulers of Ireland opposed. Giving education to the poor , they saw, threatened their authority. He gave up his business devoting himself to this work and to God.

He inspired others to join him and the order of Christian Brothers was born. This lives as a movement all over the world to this day, even in this college.

What do you believe in? What do you stand for? Or are you a passenger in our world?

Are you prepared to speak up and stand with the marginalised in our world, those who live in poverty locally, internationally, those affected by the actions of governments that make them poor or downtrodden, refugees that have to flee their country, those affected by the impact of climate change? Or are you just an observer from afar? 

In this college we have two powerful examples to encourage us to not be passengers, to be people of faith and principle- both St. Paul and Blessed Edmund have much in common. They took the example of Jesus and put it into action. They were not passengers and they had no patience for those who were. They stood up for what they believed and gave us a powerful legacy, a legacy that has reached all over the world to Manly.

In our prayers across the Edmund Rice world we say “Live Jesus in our Hearts” to which we respond “Forever”…. 

Live Jesus in our Hearts. Do you think about what that means? That the gospel message is alive in me. For that to be alive people need to see it in what I do each day, in my actions.

We need to learn from this legacy and be inspired to be an Edmund Rice person.  Have a great day reflecting on the trans-formative legacy of Blessed Edmund Rice , a man who saw a need and decided to do something about it, transforming the lives of many and inspiring others to do the same all over the world and remember the challenging question,

“Am I prepared to be an Edmund Rice person?”

God Bless,

Chris Browne

College Principal.


Interim Reports and Goal Setting for the Term Ahead- What should I do as a parent to support the partnership?

With the term coming to a close you will be receiving an interim report for your son which is a snapshot of where he currently is in his learning.  At the outset can I pose this important question.

Do you look on a regular basis at Edumate? We need you to for the partnership to work.

If you do, you will hopefully be engaging with his academic and behaviour progress on a day to day or week to week basis (usually enough). This would hopefully trigger communication from you to teachers either by phone or email and hopefully they will be responding in a timely manner to your inquiries. (48 hours)

Therefore it is a reasonable assumption that parents have a good sense already what the academic progress of their son is by this point of term. The interim report is a useful summary for parents to use as a basis for a very useful goal setting conversation with their sons.

At our College Assembly this week I made the following points to the boys which I would ask  parents / carers to go through with them.

  • Ask yourself- how did I go with the goals I set myself this term? Did I achieve what I wanted? If I did what did I do to get there? If I didn’t why not?
  • You will receive your interim reports this week. Its really important you use that as useful feedback on your learning then set goals for next term.
  • Ask yourself what do I need to do to achieve that higher grade?
    • Do you know what the grade outcomes are? If you don’t you need to. You need to know what improvement looks like. You need to know what success looks like. Read the subject outcomes.
  • You need to be taking charge of your learning and be ambitious for your own success. If you know what that goal is to aim for then you can go for it whole heartedly. If you don’t you just drift.
  • So take this report seriously. Use the feedback to take positive next steps forward. Know what you need to do to improve.
  • I’ve said it before and Ill say it again that anyone should be able to aim to improve 10% on what your achieving now as a realistic goal. Every mark counts, every lesson counts, every bit of work counts,  every bit of homework counts, every assessment counts. Success is progressive. We add a bit to it every day.
  • To our senior students can I remind you that with the holidays ahead you need to maintain the level of knowledge and skills. Don’t down tools or you fall behind.

We have spoken to the boys often about the need to have a Growth Mindset with their goal setting, a belief that they can improve, that by building on productive feedback they can improve them selves. Growth Mindset is a theory with strong currency in education posited by Dr Carol Dweck. I would encourage you to read the material from the two previous links and discuss with your son.

A key point to remember is that the praise of effort is for ‘intentional effort’ that produces improvement, not just effort for efforts sake. Telling a boy to ‘try harder’ is useless advice. Effort building on good feedback makes the difference.

This year we are continuing our work with teachers on ‘Learning Intentions’ and ‘Feedback‘. We are requiring the boys to be writing the learning intention down for each lesson in their diary so they can reflect on it. I would encourage you to have that conversation with your son about how he uses that.

As they return for Term Two please have had the conversation with them about their goals for each subject. Let’s work together on achieving the improvement we know they can achieve with intentional effort.

God Bless for the Easter Season ahead and may the Spirit of the Risen Lord be with you and your family for the year ahead

Chris Browne

College Principal

A Challenging Fortnight for All of Us

First the conviction of the senior Australian Catholic churchman and then the tragedy in Christchurch. What a roller coaster it has been these past few weeks.

I know I’m not alone in shock, dismay, anger, frustration, disbelief, painful empathy at what we have seen not only in regard to the conviction but also around what has transpired from the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse. As a Principal of a Catholic school that is trying to serve its community and build the kingdom of God on earth as our mission would indicate we should, it has been very challenging times.

It shocks me to my core that such crimes against young people could be committed by anyone, even more shocking that religious brothers and priests have done so. It is a scourge in our world that such behaviour exists and we know that such crimes are as likely if not more so to happen in the home by family members let alone by those we entrust the care of our children to.

Clearly our church has let us down as Bishop Long commented, ‘the Church needs to be broken open and born anew.’

I look with hope and pray still that the Church will embrace the opportunities that now exist to face these challenges and the expectation of the large percentage of the Church who have stood back.

My thoughts first of course go to the victims who have suffered so much not only with the abuse they suffered but that then when they sought help were as described by the Royal Commission almost abused again. I pray that the redress scheme that the church and religious orders have committed themselves to brings the healing hoped for.

 I know too that many Catholics, many I know of my generation, are in pain at being associated with such acts simply because of their faith and beliefs. To put ones head up and declare ‘I am Catholic’ is now more difficult for so many due to the reaction they get. Many have just stepped back and await change in their church.

I take solace in my own faith in God and the example of Jesus Christ confident that this is the right example that we strive to bring to the young men of St.Paul’s  and that this is never more important.

It is vital that they and you have confidence that this school is a safe one and that the systems in place to ensure they are safe guarded from harm are strong and effective.

I want to take this opportunity to reassure and reaffirm to all parents and carers that the Catholic Education system through the Catholic Schools Office in Broken Bay already undertakes training on a regular basis in areas of child protection such as:

  • reportable conduct,
  • mandatory reporting,
  • privacy and confidentiality,
  • detecting and responding to trauma,
  • a nominated child advocate,
  • conducting investigations,
  • how to identify signs of harm,
  • counselling availability,
  • facilitating child-friendly ways for children to express their views, participate in decision making and raise their concerns.

The safety and wellbeing of our students is our main priority. These systems are overseen by government agencies such as the Ombudsman, independent and with authority to ensure compliance.

The shootings in Christchurch have also challenged us enormously but have also provided an opportunity. Yes we have been shocked and appalled at what transpired last Friday week but it has been inspiring to see the leadership from the NZ Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern who has clearly stated that those who were the targets of hate are ‘Us’ not those who attacked them. The outpouring of support for the community of Christchurch during Harmony Week I hope, converts into better treatment of each other day to day.

The opportunity for us comes in being able to dialogue with our young people about the importance of tolerance, inclusion and love towards all. This is central to the Gospel message of Jesus and is at the heart of what we try to do here at St. Paul’s every day.

We need your support in this dialogue.

Chris Browne

College Principal.

Open Day- An Exciting Time to Connect With our Community.

We are most grateful to the many many people who came and had a look at the college- both those looking for the first time, having another look after a Principal’s tour or existing parents who are enrolling a further sibling. It was a wonderful community event with a nice feel about it. The feedback from those who had been around the college was extremely positive and encouraging given the work done over the past two years in particular to improve St. Paul’s. Facilities are all very well but the culture needs to support the learning and wellbeing of every young man or we wouldn’t be meeting the needs of our young men.

That we are providing a Catholic Education for all comers regardless of background is important. Jesus was not exclusive. Equity of opportunity and access is an important principle.

I’m proud to say that St. Paul’s is a great school that is improving all the time thanks to the fine work of a dedicated staff and supportive parent community and young men who understand what we are about and respond accordingly. One only had to talk with those who had toured our learning spaces last week. Our young men are our best advertisements and on last Thursday they did us proud.

It was also really pleasing to see so many ex students return to the college and it was nice to see them voluntarily engage with young men who might become students here in the future and also engage with their parents talking about what they were doing and what St. Paul’s meant to them. More than one parent commented to me, “You must be very proud of them!”. I am!

DSC_4327  DSC_4361

I was also very proud of the fact that many many parents commented about how real and how caring the college felt to them as they went around. This is very encouraging and a challenge to stay that way by the work we do every day.

If you are someone who has good things to say about us we thank you and can only encourage you to keep doing so.  Word of mouth that reflects the current reality is very powerful. In the same way that your sons are a fine advertisement so are you by what you say.

If you have any reason to feel otherwise can I please ask that you contact me at the college rather than speak or post publicly so I can assist you with the issue. It is important to us that the view people have of us is current, not something that may have been a reality in the past.

I can be contacted directly on 99775111 or via email at . I am always happy to meet with anyone who’d like to talk about any concerns they may have.

On your behalf I’d like to thank the staff and students of the college who put together such a wonderful afternoon for our community. If you weren’t able to make it you are always welcome to call and book into a tour on a fortnightly basis or even one for yourself if you like. Further we are conducting a second open morning later in May.

Everyone is welcome!

Chris Browne

College Principal