Westmead Catholic Community
In response to the rapid growth of the Westmead area, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta has announced Westmead Catholic Community Project.
Project Update - April 2022
‘Safety first’ approach leads to decision to appeal walkway through Westmead schools
The Westmead Catholic Community project was announced in 2019 in response to the needs of the growing local community, including for more enrolment opportunities at Westmead’s four outstanding Catholic schools. Though the first phase of the project was recently approved, there will be a delay to building works as a result of safety and accessibility concerns about a requirement for a public access walkway through the school site.
Be more. Do more.
This exciting project will explore the possibility of an expanded parish church and more opportunities for families to access a high-quality Catholic education.
The Westmead Catholic Community Project will mean more opportunities for the schools and parish to partner with other institutions such as the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, Westmead Hospital and Westmead Children’s Hospital as part of the NSW government’s redevelopment of the Westmead Hospital Precinct. The initiative is all part of the way that Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta is seeking to transform schools to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.
Be more. Do more.
9 News Report
Sacred Heart Parish Westmead and local Catholic schools are thriving and now seek the support of the community to meet local needs through the creation of the Westmead Catholic Community.
Parish facilities fit for the future
Sacred Heart Parish Westmead was founded in 1951, and its community has outgrown the modest Parish church and facilities in Ralph Street. From 2024, new Parish facilities will be located at Darcy Road at the heart of the Westmead Catholic Community.
A vital community hub
Westmead Catholic Community will foster collaboration and outreach to enhance the lives of those in need within the local and wider community.
A great place to learn, and learn to lead
For students, Westmead Catholic Community will be a contemporary learning environment that grows the potential of students, fostering faith, leadership and sense of belonging. Positioned in a world class health and education precinct, this will provide learning opportunities through industry partnerships and community connections.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Westmead Catholic Community?
Sacred Heart Parish Westmead and local Catholic schools are growing to meet the needs of the growing Westmead community. The Westmead Catholic Community project is a strong response to these needs, building on the strengths of the Parish and each school by providing new facilities at a central location in Darcy Road to support the local community through faith, learning and outreach. This will include new Parish and community services and additional enrolment opportunities through major investment in our outstanding Westmead Catholic schools.
What is the planning process? Why isn’t Council the authority?
The Westmead Catholic Community initiative meets the NSW Government definition of a State Significant Project. Therefore, the relevant decision-making body is the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE).
The planning application was on public exhibition from Thursday 2 April until Thursday 30 April 2020. This is available to view and comment at the Major Projects Planning Portal.
Subject to planning approval, the facilities are set to open Term 1, 2024.
What is the enrolment situation in Westmead Catholic schools today?
Catholic schools in Westmead are unable to meet growing demand, turning away more than 500 enrolment applicants every year for several years. A plan has been announced by the Diocese of Parramatta, Marist Trustees and supported by the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, to provide more enrolment opportunities to meet the growing need from families seeking a Catholic education for their children locally. These changes are part of the Westmead Catholic Community initiative, which also includes new Parish facilities.
Subject to planning approval, new Catholic primary school facilities in Westmead will open in 2024 and will be located at Darcy Road, Westmead. The identities and traditions of each primary school will remain strong and vibrant within the Westmead Catholic Community: Sacred Heart Primary Westmead will cater for students from Early Learning to Year 2 and Mother Teresa Primary Westmead will serve students from Year 3 to Year 6. Expanding enrolment opportunities at Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School through new facilities at a later date remains a priority.
How will the changes impact enrolment opportunities and processes in Westmead Catholic schools?
Catholic schools in Westmead will remain focused on ensuring the needs of students and their families are met. After 2024, all current students of Sacred Heart Primary school and Mother Teresa Primary will be automatically transferred to the new primary facilities at Darcy Road. Please note that after 2023, students enrolled in Sacred Heart Primary for Early Childhood Education to Year 2 will be automatically transferred to Mother Teresa Primary for Year 3 to Year 6. Expanding enrolment opportunities at Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School through new facilities at a later date remains a priority.
As indicated earlier, and subject to the necessary approvals, 2024 is the scheduled time for the opening of the new primary school and Parish facilities. Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta’s enrolment policy continues to apply to all Catholic schools in Westmead.
What do the changes mean for staff?
As we work together to meet the increasing need for Catholic school places in Westmead, it is anticipated that there will be increased employment opportunities for teachers and support staff. Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta is committed to fair and transparent processes as the Westmead Catholic Community grows and will keep staff informed.
In the long-term, Westmead Catholic Community will also provide additional opportunities for sharing resources, collaboration between schools, pathways and partnerships. New facilities will support schools to offer a dynamic and contemporary learning environment. The project will result in increased subject choices for secondary students and may mean, for example, students share a class to support the provision of a specialist subject that they may otherwise not have had the chance to study. This may provide opportunities to teach students at both Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School. Teachers will continue to be required to be appropriately qualified for the work they are engaged in.
How will recreational facilities change for students?
The design of the new facilities for both primary and secondary students at schools in Westmead will see some changes to recreational facilities for students. Open spaces will be complemented by significant investment in creating up-to-date and exciting play and recreation spaces throughout the new buildings. These new spaces will be usable all-year round, in all weather and be tailored for the age groups who use different areas.
Research supports spaces like these to encourage more activity in children. Providing spaces throughout the new buildings, as well as on the ground, reduces the need for children to use stairs and lifts during the day and ensures all their break times can be used for play based and social activity. These spaces are also then easily accessible for outdoor learning and breakout areas as part of the overall learning engagement.
During the construction, some recreational spaces used by the schools will be relocated. These changes will be made in consultation with the school leadership teams. On completion, Westmead Catholic Community will maintain sufficient play space and open space for the planned number of students on campus.
How will Catholic Education Parramatta support the increased size of the schools in Westmead?
Catholic schools in Westmead are committed to meeting the needs of every learner. This includes ensuring that students are supported through appropriate structures and pastoral care during growth within their own school communities.
Westmead Catholic Community will provide additional opportunities for sharing of resources between schools to cater to specific student needs. A learning centre on site for students with high support needs and a moderate intellectual disability and a Catholic Early Learning Centre are also planned for the site.
The current site of Sacred Heart Primary is extremely limited and its classroom facilities were not designed to support contemporary learning. The school site also includes some playground space on short-term lease from the Anglican Church. It is anticipated that the Westmead Catholic Community initiative will provide more space for students to learn and play at the new location on Darcy Road.
What is the plan for traffic management and parking?
Traffic management has been and will continue to be a major consideration in the planning for the Westmead Catholic Community initiative. The Project Team are working closely with local transport and traffic authorities, NSW Government including Transport NSW and Western Sydney Local Health District, to discuss traffic management and transport. A traffic engineer will be consulted to provide expert advice on how to best manage the movement of people and vehicles. This is a major opportunity to improve traffic management and parking across the Darcy Road site, including during construction. A multi-deck carpark is being constructed as part of Stage 1 of the project, as well as drop off and access routes to school.
In response to community feedback and working closely with the City of Parramatta’s traffic experts, traffic consultants, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and school principals, a new ‘Kiss and Drop’ was established at the Darcy Road schools’ site in 2021. This has also resulted in a small number of additional car spaces being available to families each afternoon.
Safe and healthy travel to school is an important consideration for the planning and design process. At present, 75% of students at Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School travel to school by public transport or on foot. In the medium to long-term, the Westmead precinct will benefit from active pedestrian and cycle paths, Parramatta Light Rail, Sydney Metro West and the existing heavy rail and T-Way. These facilities will support increased use of active travel and public transport, particularly for older students and those who will live within the Westmead precinct. “Active travel means walking, cycling, scootering, skateboarding or any similar transport where human energy is spent to travel” (NSW Government, Healthy Kids). Parents, students, staff and community will be invited to participate in discussions on ‘Active travel’ during consultation for the Masterplan.
Will Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School still be single-sex schools?
Yes, Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School will still be single-sex schools. The Westmead Catholic Community will provide additional opportunities for sharing resources and collaboration between schools. This will result in increased subject choices for secondary students and may mean occasionally senior students from Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist High School share a class to make the provision of a specialist subject possible. Sufficient facilities will be provided to allow for combinations of single-sex and co-educational learning in a limited number of subjects for the two separate Year 7 to 12 secondary schools.
What will the changes mean for families and siblings?
The Westmead Catholic Community will see local Catholic systemic schools located on the same site. A learning centre on site for students with high support needs and a moderate intellectual disability and a Catholic Early Learning Centre are also planned as part of the initiative. This may provide convenience for some families including opportunities for siblings to travel to school together. There will be many opportunities for siblings of different ages and support needs to share in Westmead Catholic Community celebrations together.
What about the swimming pool?
As part of Phase 1 of the project the swimming pool (which is currently empty and has not been used for a number of years) will be filled to create more outdoor play space.
We understand that a swimming pool is an area of interest for the community and this along with other uses will be discussed during community consultation for the masterplan project.
How will student safety be ensured?
The safety of all students will always be the number one priority for Westmead Catholic schools and in the design of Westmead Catholic Community. Primary school learning areas are separate from secondary school facilities. However, shared resources including specialist learning areas will provide new opportunities for collaboration. Access to these resources will be carefully supervised to ensure that shared usage is safe and appropriate. Visitors to the school will be required to follow strict protocols.
Student safety has been a key consideration in the planning process for the site. A great benefit of redesigning the site and the buildings will be the ability to ensure site lines for supervision are considered holistically, further adding to the overall safety and well being of each child. The secure school premises feature covered play areas designed for the exclusive use of particular year groupings to provide a safe environment for recreational activities. These arrangements promote student safety and encourage the development of social skills through opportunities to play with students of a similar age.
How will the impacts of construction be safely managed so that disruption to schooling is minimised?
Westmead Catholic schools are committed to ensuring safety and minimising disruption to current students during construction of new facilities. A construction management plan will be developed as part of the planning process which will outline ways to mitigate noise, dust and debris. The Project Team will be working closely with each of the schools to plan ways to schedule classes and activities to minimise disruption to learning and teaching, particularly during HSC trials and examinations.
Subject to planning approval, the new Catholic primary school in Westmead will open in 2024. Sacred Heart Primary will continue to operate at its current site until this time.
What about the Marist Brothers' Residence?
There are three Marist Brothers who currently live in the Marist Brothers’ residence on Darcy Road, Westmead. This building will be demolished during Stage 1 of the Westmead Catholic Community project. This community will be relocated to a mutually agreed location with care and consideration. Suitable accommodation will be provided to the Brothers to ensure the ongoing presence of the Marist Brothers in the community.
What other services and uses will be coming to Westmead Catholic Community?
Westmead Catholic Community will foster collaboration and outreach to enhance the lives of those in need within the local and wider community. As part of the masterplan for the site at Darcy Road, complementary services and uses will be considered to help parishioners, students, their families and the wider community. These could include health care, aged care, university partnerships and accommodation. The community will be invited to provide ideas and feedback on what might be suitable and useful for this site.
What are the environmental impacts of the Westmead Catholic Community project?
As part of the Catholic Church, Westmead Catholic Community shares a responsibility to care for God’s creation. The project will comply with all government requirements regarding environmental impacts. Facilities provided as part of the project will be more environmentally efficient. There will also be the possibility of Westmead Catholic schools participating in the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Energy Efficiency Program.
Will any land be sold?
The future of the land at Ralph Street that is currently the site of Sacred Heart Church and Primary School has not yet been determined. Please note that part of the site currently used by Sacred Heart Primary for recreation belongs to the Anglican Church and the lease for this part of the property will conclude in the next few years.
However, any future decisions regarding the sale of land would be carefully considered in terms of impacts on the Westmead Catholic Community and stewardship responsibilities.
Will Sacred Heart and Mother Teresa Primary School continue to be separate schools?
In September 2019, the Diocese of Parramatta, together with the Marist Brothers Australia and Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, announced the Westmead Catholic Community in response to the needs of the growing Westmead community. As part of this news, it had been decided that the Westmead Catholic primary schools would be designated as Sacred Heart Primary for students from Kindergarten to Year 2, and Mother Teresa Primary for students from Year 3 to 6.
On 29 June 2020 in a further announcement, it has now been decided that, after further consultation with the communities, a single primary school would be the best option for the Westmead Catholic Community. Consequently, from 2023, the primary school within the Westmead Catholic Community will be known as Sacred Heart Primary School and will serve students from Kindergarten to Year 6. St Teresa of Calcutta will continue to be honoured, including through the new Mother Teresa Early Learning Centre which will be located on the Darcy Road site.
Why is Sacred Heart Primary School being relocated to Darcy Rd Westmead?
The Sacred Heart Primary School facilities no longer services the changing needs for contemporary learning. The proposal will provide opportunity to develop purpose-built facilities that are flexible to meet the learning and curriculum delivered by Catholic Education.
The project will explore how our schools can do more to respond to this demand. The schools will continue to operate separately but with a new emphasis on working together and with Sacred Heart Parish, Westmead.
Get in Touch
Have Your Say
Parishioners, Parents, students, staff and community will be invited to participate in discussions during consultation during the entire project.
Phase one of consultation was completed in Term 4, 2019.