St Lucy’s Learner November Edition

Welcome to St Lucy’s Learner. Once again, we are in the midst of an exciting building project. Students are eagerly awaiting the completion of our High School ‘Catherine Centre’ which will open in August 2024. Meanwhile, St Lucy’s students are as busy as ever participating in dynamic learning experiences, developing skills and achieving goals. All students enjoyed our ‘Artist is Me’ Creative Arts festival in October and the return to the pool for PE sessions. The Sacramental Program has meant a journey marked with milestones for 7 students this year who have participated in making their First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, and their Confirmation. All are significant moments in the life of a Catholic student. 

The Disability Royal Commission final report was published in October. Naturally, the St Lucy’s Community is focused on the Royal Commission’s recommendation that mainstream schooling become entirely inclusive and that Special Education Schools should, within a time span, cease to exist. From our perspective, we are encouraged by the impetus to make mainstream schooling more inclusive but saddened by the prospect that parents of students with special education needs would be faced with fewer options rather than given more. St Lucy’s has been in the business of education for students with disabilities for over 85 years. Originally a school for blind or vision impaired children, the needs of our students have changed dramatically over 9 decades. The Dominican Sisters who founded St Lucy’s School had a mission to provide education for students who were marginalised. Their successors, Dominican Education Australia (DEA), continue in that mission to provide an education for students for whom a mainstream setting is entirely unsuitable. 

We were happy to host the ABC on campus shortly after the Royal Commission’s report to showcase how a high-quality special education setting provides tailored support to students, preparing them for meaningful and exciting lives beyond school. At St Lucy’s we provide inclusive education for our students. For students on our main campus, we have facilities and programs that are tailored to support them as they journey towards life and work in the community. You can read about some of the ways we do this is this edition. For our satellite students, we offer a highly tailored education, in small classes with support staff, on mainstream campuses where they can benefit from a busier and less scaffolded social experience. 

In contrast to Special Education settings closing, the Broken Bay Diocese has recently announced the establishment of the
Eileen O’Connor School for students with disabilities in Tuggerah. St Lucy’s consulted with the diocese on this important project, sharing our experience in education and building specialised facilities as they prepared to open Eileen O’Connor. We are acutely aware of the need for special education on the Central Coast as we fundraise annually to transport 12 students from the central coast daily, providing them an education that they would not have otherwise. Along with the announcement about Eileen O’Connor in Tuggerah, we have learned that the Broken Bay Diocese plan to run satellite classes across their schools. As St Lucy’s runs satellite classes in Broken Bay Diocese schools on the Upper North Shore and Northern Beaches, we had hoped that the Eileen O’Connor satellite programs would increase options for families looking for a specialised setting. However, we have learned that the leases we have in place for our 5 satellite classes will not be renewed by Broken Bay Diocese. This will have a significant impact on St Lucy’s families and how the school operates. We are working closely with families who have been enrolled in these programs to offer a path forward. 

As we work through the challenges ahead, we are forever grateful for the broader St Lucy’s Community of supporters, advocates, donors, volunteers, and friends who are dedicated to our students and their families. I hope that you all enjoy reading more about what St Lucy’s students and staff are achieving in this edition of St Lucy’s Learner. 

David Raphael

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