Welcoming in a culture of coeducation at Marist Catholic College

Marist Catholic College is inviting all interested parents and their children to come and meet current students and staff at an open afternoon on 17 October.

Visitors are invited to bring their questions about the new college, and discuss the particulars of the new school – including uniform, architecture, charism, and the school’s upcoming transition to co-education.

College staff understand that making sure girls feel welcome and boys are still primed to achieve their best will be crucial to the success of the new school. While a number of details are still being finalised, Sydney Catholic Schools has ample experience managing such transitions, having recently done so at Marist Catholic College Penshurst.

Marist Penshurst began transitioning from a 7-10 boys college to a co-educational 7-12 school in 2015, in response to community need. Having taught only 7-10 boys, staff were given the opportunity to undergo teaching exchanges and professional learning with 7-12 co-educational colleges to better prepare them for the different learning styles of boys and girls.

“They are slightly different,” said Marist Catholic College Penshurst Principal Ray Martin. “In co-education, you tend to get a better learning model.”

“Sometimes both boys and girls have to move out of their comfort zone.”

The college’s high standards of behaviour ensured the culture of the school remained constant. Existing year cohorts remained single sex, meaning there were very few changes to a boy’s average day, but male students were offered extra pastoral support to ensure positive interactions with new girls.

A new Year 7 playground and breakout space were constructed as part of extensive building works at the new college, and the first co-educational class were originally provided separate lunch and recess times. Siblings and friends sought each other out, and year groups mixed easily when given the opportunity, so break times were changed to align after just a few weeks. Year 7 students said this felt normal to them, as most attended co-educational primary schools and had friends of both genders.

Benefits for students at the now co-educational school include a broader choice of subjects and a greater scope for socialisation, and Marist College North Shore Principal, Tony Duncan, is confident this success can be replicated at the new Marist Catholic College.

“Parents should feel confident that their daughters and sons starting the co-educational experience in Year 7 2021 will be attending a safe school, supported by an innovative site plan and highly skilled staff.”

“The change from single-sex to co-education will be gradual and the learning experience in each year will be true to the model of education parents have chosen for their children.”

“We will continue preparing confident, faith-filled young people ready to contribute to the world.”

Mr Duncan and other staff will be available to answer questions about the new school, including its transition to co-education, at Marist Catholic College’s open afternoon on Wednesday, 17 October from 4:00-5:30pm.