Education Programs

Education Programs


In the Parramatta Diocese there are numerous programs and initiatives that offer students an infinite array of opportunities to explore students' talents and interests. They also provide students with opportunities to further enhance their knowledge, skills, friendships and confidence.

These activities are considered to be an integral part of school life and are central to each school's commitment to the academic, social and emotional well-being of their students. The following are some of that may be offered at your local school.

Music and performance

Many opportunities exist for student participation in musicals and other stage productions as well as ensembles and choirs. These opportunities cater for a wide range of student ability and musical taste.

Learn more about CAPTIVATE, the exciting Creative and Performing Arts initiative for primary and secondary Catholic schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.

Private music tuition

Many of our accomplished teachers instruct on a range of instruments, voice, music theory and speech and drama. Individual and small group instruction (upon consultation with the teacher) is available on a wide range of musical instruments.


Students from Kindergarten to Year 12 may be able to participate in regional art displays and competitions. These opportunities are excellent vehicles for stretching student abilities.

Learn more about CAPTIVATE, the exciting Creative and Performing Arts initiative for primary and secondary Catholic schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.

Career education

In secondary schools guidance towards the choice of career is given through a formal career education program as well as through the availability of a careers advisor and career resources:

  • class-based instruction is given in the middle secondary years
  • work experience segments are organised for Year 10 students
  • senior students have the opportunity to meet with the school careers advisor
  • presentations on career options are made to senior students
  • visits are arranged to careers exhibitions and to industry and university information days
  • talks by representatives from professions, industry, the defence forces, and other groups.

Camps and retreats

These activities are designed to complement the religious and academic development of students, and to promote qualities of self-reliance, initiative, cooperation, confidence, leadership, and the capacity to deal with significant emotional and physical challenges.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is offered at some secondary schools in the diocese as an additional avenue to pursue those objectives.

OPTI Minds (Formerly Tournament of Minds)

OPTI Minds is a problem-solving program for teams of Years 5-7 students where students are required to solve quite demanding open-ended challenges in an exciting, vibrant and creative way. OPTI Minds promotes creative thinking, strategies for collaboration and team work, and presentation and drama skills.

Debating and public speaking

Students in both primary and secondary are often able to participate in debating and public speaking competitions, enabling students to extend the skills already developed in class.

Extra-curricular activities

Some of the other activities commonly offered throughout Parramatta Diocesan schools include:

  • mock trials
  • chess club
  • Voice Of Youth
  • astronomy
  • art competitions
  • dance clubs
  • the St Vincent de Paul Society
  • science clubs
  • computing clubs
  • community service
  • photography
  • school newspapers
  • maths clubs

Indigenous education

Aboriginal education is incorporated into the curriculum from Kindergarten through to Year 12. Many schools also have special Aboriginal study units such as Aboriginal Languages and Aboriginal Cultural Experiences.

Located at the Aengus Kavanagh Centre (AKC) in Mt Druitt, the Jarara Indigenous Education Unit interacts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and families from across the Diocese.

Learn more about the Jarara Indigenous Education Unit


The ESL (English as a Second Language) program operates in primary and secondary schools across the diocese.

'Non-English speaking background' is defined as being born outside Australia with a first language other than English or Australian born with a parent or primary carer whose first language is not English. Priority is given to schools with the greatest number of new arrivals, first and second phase ESL learners.

Students receive specialist support from ESL teachers using a variety of support models.

New Arrivals

The New Arrivals program provides intensive English language instruction for primary and secondary students who are migrants or refugees during their first few months in Australia. Support for primary students is provided by specialist itinerant new arrivals teachers who support children according to their needs. This support is normally provided for three to four terms. Secondary students attend the Catholic Intensive English Centre at Westmead where they receive assistance for a period of three to four terms.

Reading Recovery

The Reading Recovery program aims to help children catch up with their classmates by giving them help when they are still young. The program usually lasts for about 15 weeks and during that time the child is given an individual half-hour lesson each day, by a specially trained teacher. The program started in New Zealand and is now taught throughout the world. It has been very successful everywhere it has been adopted.


Since 1994 the Catholic Education Office has been part of a Federal Government funded initiative called NALSAS (National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools). Currently 43 schools receive funding for support of Asian priority languages - Japanese and Indonesian, and Asian perspectives through teacher development and resources.

An annual conference called Asian Connections has been most successful. Also, teachers have been funded for Asian study tours through the Teachers In Country Fellowship to Asia (TICFA) (part of the Asian Education Foundation). In 1999 a group of diocesan primary and secondary teachers undertook a study tour of the Philippines and Indonesia with subsequent involvement in preparing units of work with Asian perspectives for the revised diocesan religious education resource, Sharing Our Story.

LOTE (Languages Other Than English)

This program is designed to enhance language programs in primary schools and to encourage the provision of school-based LOTE, teacher professional development and resource support. There are a variety of languages including Italian, German, Spanish, French, Indonesian and Japanese. Schools have chosen languages for particular school community needs. Current languages in primary schools have strong links to the secondary programs.

Seasons for Growth
- training for companions

The Seasons for Growth program is designed to assist students to understand and manage grief and loss in their lives. The inability to cope with grief resulting from the loss of a parent or significant other through death, separation or divorce can have a profound effect on a student's capacity to learn. Training is offered for any teacher or parent who would like to train as a 'companion'. This enables the teacher or parent to take small groups of students through the Seasons for Growth program.

Drug education

The misuse of drugs has become a major problem in Australia, so it is important that effective drug education is a part of the PDHPE curriculum area. The Catholic Education Office supports this important aspect of education by the provision of an adviser to assist teachers in the development of their drug education programs and many up-to-date resources, both books and audio-visuals, in the CEO library.

Road safety education K-12

Road safety education advisers support primary and secondary schools in:

  • the development and implementation of road safety education programs within the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) key learning area
  • whole-school planning to improve teaching and learning in K-6 and 7-12 PDHPE
  • supporting K-6 and 7-12 PDHPE curriculum networks
  • facilitating the professional development inservice program in K-6 and 7-12 PDHPE for the diocese
  • liaising with community agencies in the areas of road safety and health promoting schools

The Lighthouse Program

The Lighthouse Program is a workplace mentoring program established in the Parramatta Diocese in 2001 and since then has matched a number of students with volunteer mentors. Students come from a range of secondary schools in the Parramatta Diocese.

It provides students in Years 9 or 10 with the opportunity to develop key skills and experience in a learning environment outside school.

Learn more about the Lighthouse Program.

Further information

For further information regarding any of our programs and initiatives please contact the Catholic Education Office.



Mentors needed now!

Mentors on the Lighthouse Program offer their students the gift of time, attention, and a chance to learn about the world of work.  

Students see that people in the community care enough about their future to give them this chance.  For many students this can be a turning point in valuing their time at school - for opportunities their education will give them in the future. 

The Lighthouse Program is currently seeking caring, interested volunteers to mentor students. Tradespeople are particularly welcome.

Are you in a position to become a mentor? Know someone who is?

Contact the Catholic Education Office today.


Contact Us

You can contact Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta by email or phone on (02) 9840 5600 weekdays between 8am and 5pm.

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Contact Us

  • You can contact Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta by email or phone on (02) 9840 5600 weekdays between 8am and 5pm.

  •  Send us an email
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