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.


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.


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