Catholic schools are facing such a growing demand from non-Catholic families that 10,000 new classrooms are needed by 2025, with almost a third of students now from outside the faith, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The Church’s education chiefs are fast-tracking a huge expansion program expected to cost $3.4 billion over the next decade, and warned fees could rise unless more government funding was secured.
It comes at a time when concerned bishops have warned of a need to “reaffirm the Catholic identity of our schools”, with non-Catholic enrolments in some areas up to almost 50 percent.
Non-Catholic families flocking to enrol children in Catholic schools will make up a large chunk of the additional 180,000 students expected nationally, with waiting lists continuing to grow.
“Outsiders” — increasing by about 1 percent a year — are attracted by the quality of academic programs on offer, along with Catholic values.
However, Catholic educators said places were allocated on a strict priority basis, giving first preference to Catholic families, followed by those families with siblings at a school, Christian families, other religions and non-Catholics.
Every family enrolling a child is asked to be supportive of the Catholic faith, its ethos and values and those identifying as Catholic need to show they are practising.
Bishops have warned Catholic schools are at “crossroads”, with educators told the Church does not want to see their education institutions regarded as “great secular schools with Catholic icing.”
Photo: Kindergarten students at Mother Teresa Primary School in Westmead, western Sydney, include, clockwise from top left, Jasmine Khouri, Jaycob Bainy, Anthony Hanna, Monique Douohiy and Arnav Prakash (Daily Telegraph)