New school of thought
06 Apr 2022
Principal, Catherine Larkin is transforming education to prepare the youth of Western Sydney for the jobs of tomorrow.
Catherine Larkin is passionate about providing the young people of Western Sydney with an education that is going to see them with useable and tangible skills for not only a successful career but a fulfilling life.
Moving away from the traditional school system, Cathwest Innovation College was formed in 2020 by the coming together of the Catholic Trade Training Centres and Loyola Senior High School.
Spread over two campuses in Mt Druitt and Emu Plains, the college offers new options for students from year 10-12, with a focus on more flexible education pathways.
By combining study and hands on training, students are still positioned to attain their HSC while getting a head-start on their chosen career - all without the pressure of formal HSC exams.
“I did the High School Certificate in 1977. One of my daughters did it in 2011, and the other 2015. Honestly, I would’ve been able to loan them my notes,” she said laughing. “I mean, look, you know that’s a bit of a caricature - because it has changed - but not enough.
“The system is very assessment driven. And so, there is a lot of time spent in schools preparing students for exams. The other thing I would like to mention is in terms of the mental health agenda now for young people, and the percentages that have anxiety and depression.
“If you tell students, they’re not going to have to do any external exams, and still be earning money and accelerated into employment. They really love that.”
Part of a diocese of 23 secondary schools all with traditional learning pathways and all them finishing at the end of year 12, Catherine said its ethos of passion, pathway, and passport are key to the college’s success.
“The idea is that within those schools we can identify whether particular students need something different in terms of their learning pathway, the style of learning and the outcome.
“One of the criteria we have for all students is that they at least have an interest in something. It doesn’t have to be extremely well defined. It could be as simple as having an interest in technology or construction. Then we can hep narrow it down and determine if it’s an interest in software, or hardware or whatever. We want students here to have a passion, or at least an interest in something that could become a passion.”
The college offers custom made courses enabling students to develop essential skills in time management, planning, and prioritising. In addition, students have the opportunity to learn practical, industry-specific skills preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow.
“Our trade pathway involves students undertaking school-based apprenticeship and traineeship programs. What we have at our school is that you come five days a week which will consist of one day at work, one day in your trade training, and then three days doing other courses that ensure eligibility for the High School Certificate.”
Catherine said that the trainee and apprenticeships available are varied with several considered ‘hard trades’ such as carpentry, plumbing and automotive. There are also trades like hairdressing, commercial cookery, and early childhood education on offer plus newer pathways such as technology and entrepreneurial skills.
“And that brings me to the last key word - passport. Part of our ethos is that education really needs to focus a lot on the development of skills, because knowledge is so quickly redundant these days. So, we have what we call our skills passport. Whether you’re a trainee or whether you’re in the inquiry pathway; we want students to be understanding and developing and mastering skills. Things like communication, critical thinking, collaboration, but also things like literacy and numeracy — the employability skills — they are hugely important.
“The way we pitch it to the students is that competency in literacy and numeracy is not about having to pass an exam. If you want to get that dream job in the future. If you want to win that contract you have to know how to quote. You need to be literate to make money.
“For a kid on a trade pathway, their passport will be more about those employability skills and the actual products they’ve created.
The passport system the college is offering is working with seventy to eighty percent of students leaving the college having secured an apprenticeship, traineeship, or employment when they leave school.
“But if it is a university degree they would like to pursue, the skills and actual experience that they have will allow them to choose it if they wish to.”
Which leads to what Catherine said is one of the major issues with students choosing a different educational pathway, particularly when it comes to young women.
“Unfortunately, I think our society still prizes a university pathway and qualification. But the fact is, in many cases, students struggle in traditional academic environments and then there are changing workplace requirements.
“We want the gifts that our students have to be equally valued. And that’s the message we want to get out. We value young people. And we will work with them,” Catherine said.
“We also don’t try to mould them. And in fact, because we’re a new school, they are moulding us we try to be responsive to what they need.
“What’s actually happening is that students are coming here because they are wanting to leave mainstream education. Their families are looking for another way that is more holistic and sets these young people up for success career wise and in life.”
26 Sep 2022Use the Term 3 School Holidays 26 - 28 September for an opportunity to upskill for employment outcomes and develop skills in your passion area. Limited spaces still available!
21 Sep 2022
Congratulations Noah Saunders for officially starting your School Based Apprenticeship with Das Autohaus Emu Plains. What a great start and well done. Go well! 🚗🚗👌#cedp #hsc #realskillsforrealcareers
16 Sep 2022
BITTERSWEET AND VERY PROUD OF OUR YEAR 12 STUDENTS as they celebrate their last day today. This week was full of celebration from both Campuses. 🥲 Year 12s its been a memorable journey and we wish you all the very best! We hope that you take your experiences and knowledge that you gained at CathWest to an amazing and bright future. ☺️
15 Sep 2022
MURU MUTTIGAR EXCURSION YEAR 12 TRADE CERT III ECEC Recently our Year 12's attended Muru Mittigar as part of their Cultural studies. Students had a great day and were provided with opportunities to explore Aboriginal artifacts & culture. Students participated in using aboriginal symbols and clay to tell stories, explore Aboriginal plants and boomerang throwing. What a great day for the Year 12s! 🤩
15 Sep 2022
1 Week to go!!!! Are you in Year 9 or Year 10? Interested in Trying a Trade in : - Hairdressing (places still available) 💇♀️ - Metals (places still available) ⚙️⚒⛓ - Carpentry (waiting list only) 🔨🪜 - Childcare (waiting list only) 👶👧 - Automotive (waiting list only) 🚗 TRY A TRADE @ McCarthy Campus. September 21 2022. Register now! 😃
14 Sep 2022
Last week, our awesome teacher Kathleen volunteered so that the Hairdressing class can witness the process of hair dying. Cameron looked after her and learnt in the process. 💇♀️ 1) Prep 👩🦳 2) Dye 🧴 3) Wash🌧🧖♀️ 4) Treat💆♀️ 5) Blow Dry 👩🦰 Hair Success! Well done Cameron! 🤩 #Schooldonedifferently #CathWest #beautysalon #hairdressing
13 Sep 2022
Last week our Staff and Students celebrated R U Ok? day! They explored how to start a conversation through art work and some wore yellow for the day. 👍 Thank you all for participating. 🤩😄 #CathWest #ruok2022 #schooldonedifferently #itsokaytoaskRUOK
12 Sep 2022
Last week our Year 10 Design students from CathWest Innovation College showcased their work as young entrepreneurs. These students have participated in a program through Future Anything that enables them to solve a problem in society by ideating a solution through a product or service. This entrepreneurial program developed our students capability skills in communication, project management, critical thinking, creativity and innovation and adaptive mindset. Our young entrepreneurs pitched to our shark tank team and CathWest parents. 🦈🦈🦈 The shark tank team were as follows: Stephen Rutter: Founder of The Scale Insitute Katelin Vincent: Founder of YouGoGirlfriend Headspace Reps from Mount Druitt We would like to thank our courageous students on their commitment with this program and delivery of their pitches. YOU ARE ALL INSPIRATIONAL! Well done! 🤩 #Schooldonedifferently #CathWest #Entrepreneurship
09 Sep 2022
This week CathWest was represented at the Diocese Education Mass and Mission Partners Expo by Year 11 student leaders Sophie Galambos and Joshua Burrows. It was also a good opportunity to meet Bishop Vincent Long, who reminded us of the important role Catholic education has in serving others and caring for our common home. 😃
08 Sep 2022
Tomorrow at our Loyola Campus. Our Year 10 Inquiry Pathway students will hold a Social Enterprise Expo. At this event we will have our own SHARK TEAM 🦈that will provide feedback to our Entrepreneurs. Well done Year 10s! 🤩 #schooldonedifferently #CathWest
08 Sep 2022
Today is R U OK Day! A CONVERSATION CAN CHANGE A LIFE Inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with those in their world who may be struggling with life. You don't need to be an expert to reach out - just a good friend and a great listener. Use these four steps and have a conversation that could change a life: 1) Ask R U OK? 2) Listen 3) Encourage action 4) Check in https://vimeo.com/742551291
07 Sep 2022
Year 12 Carpentry are putting their knowledge into practice by creating the foundations for a driveway. They have dug the hole, created the trench mech and placed them ready for the concrete slab to be poured! 🔨⛏ Great job!🤩 #buildingfoundations #CathWest #schooldonedifferent
06 Sep 2022
We would like to congratulate Jumikah Donovan and team for creating a Totem that represents CathWest. This totem will be featured in the Catholic Schools NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander State Education Conference 2022 at Fairmont Blue Mountains from 11th to 13th October. 🤩 "This totem project represents Cathwest's connection to indigenous culture. On the left side is McCarthy campus, with the blue mountains and their resident red belly black snake. The middle is the Nepean river between the campuses, and the snakes meeting with Loyola campuses resident kangaroos. On the right we have a meeting space or a yarning circle, representing us as one big community. Followed by the rainbow lorikeet prints on the top, which are found at both campuses". Great job Jumikah and team! 😄
06 Sep 2022
Last week was a very important week as it was Teacher's Aide appreciation week! Thank you to all the Teacher's Aide that have assisted our teachers and students through their educational journey! We couldn't have done it without you! 😄
06 Sep 2022
JERSEY DAY! 🏀⚽️🏈🏑🏏 Last Friday our staff and students had an amazing day as they promoted awareness for organ donation and raised some funding for the Jesuit Social Services! ❤️ Great work everyone! 🤩