Development of Cairns’ newest secondary school is progressing through its major milestones, with funding for the highly anticipated project approved.
The almost $15 million funding announcement by Barron River MP Craig Crawford on Friday means Stage 1 of Newman Catholic College will soon go to tender and a nationwide search will begin for a foundation principal.
The college, co-located with James Cook University at Smithfield, is the first Catholic school in Australia to be located within a university precinct.
“As new schools go, this one is particularly exciting because it brings into play a range of additional benefits arising from its location and its relationship with JCU,” said Cairns Catholic Education Services Executive Director Bill Dixon, who welcomed the State Government’s contribution.
“We’ve been looking at ways we can extend the benefits of this partnership to all our students in all our colleges and this has implications for our recruitment of graduate teachers, staff professional development, education research, extension and mentoring opportunities for our students, and transition programs.”
“Even at this early stage it is apparent that there are some very significant advantages that will flow from this partnership.”
The first development phase will include construction of a four-level building of approximately 7,000m² containing five design technology classrooms, four science lab classrooms, a library and the administration area, as well as an indoor PE court. The funding will also provide circulation and collaboration areas, carpark and traffic infrastructure.
A builder will be appointed soon after the tender process has closed, and Newman Catholic College will be shovel-ready to commence construction in late 2020.
Stage 1 is due for completion in December 2021 so that the college will be ready to receive students in January 2022.
It will initially open with a Year 7 cohort and add a new year level every following year to be a full Year 7-12 secondary college in 2027.
Newman Catholic College has been accredited with the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board, a long-term lease for the land has been signed with the university and the design for the first stage has been finalised.
“Although we did not plan it this way it will be a timely vote of confidence in the local economy in its response to the pandemic impacts,” Mr Dixon said.
JCU’s Cairns Campus Director Dr David Craig said the university looked forward to working with Catholic Education and Newman Catholic College.
“Our ongoing relationship with nearby State schools has shown us how much we and the schools benefit from working closely together,” he said.
“We’ve seen students’ aspirations rise as they discover what they can achieve in their education. Having a secondary college on campus will enable us to extend our efforts to raise the Far North’s participation in tertiary education, which we know is critical to the region’s future.”
Cairns Catholic Education Services Director of School Effectiveness (Secondary) Andrea O’Brien said local consultation in the northern beaches community and further afield had demonstrated enormous interest and support for the college.
“We have long had waiting lists for our Cairns-located secondary colleges,” she said.
“Current expressions of interest for Year 7 places suggest we will easily achieve total enrolments of 750 – 800 students when Newman Catholic College is complete in 2027.”
“Our approach has been to bring the community with us on this journey through our consultative process and the work of the college’s community consultative committee and through our engagement with the university community.”