Cessnock’s first Catholic high school could be on the cards, with a parcel of land on Wine Country Drive revealed to be part of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s property portfolio.
The Diocese bought the eight-hectare site – located opposite Calvary retirement community – for $4.6 million in August 2016.
The site has been earmarked for a future high school, early learning centre and other community facilities.
But Catholic Schools Office director of schools Michael Slattery said the Diocese is a “very long way off” developing specific plans for the site, and there are no timelines in place.
The Catholic Schools Office conducted a study into the provision of secondary education in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 2013, which recommended the development of a longer-term strategy for educational provision at Cessnock.
Dr Slattery said any decisions or plans for the Wine Country Drive site, with reference to a high school, will need to have the 2013 study as its foundation.
“This is because we are committed to providing a secondary education for students that is marked by academic rigour and success, providing students with every opportunity to improve their learning so that they can maximise their post-school choices,” Dr Slattery said.
“This study was carried out to enable us to meet the future needs of students in our Catholic secondary schools and the growing demand for Catholic education in the Hunter-Manning region.”
Dr Slattery said helping children realise their full potential, education in a faith-based environment, and employment success rates for Catholic high school graduates were among the reasons for the growing demand.
The Cessnock local government area is home to three public high schools (Cessnock, Mount View and Kurri Kurri) and a K-12 independent Christian school (St Philip’s at Nulkaba).
But the town only has a Catholic primary school (St Patrick’s) – the Diocese’s nearest secondary school is St Joseph’s Lochinvar.
Previously a Year 7-10 school, St Joseph’s expanded to Year 11 this year, and Year 12 to follow in 2019.
The Hunter’s first new Catholic high school in more than 30 years – St Bede’s at Chisholm – welcomed its first Year 7 students this year. The Diocese also plans to build a high school at Medowie.
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