Buvette Masthead

Our guide to ACT Catholic schools

Alexandra Tolmie

In the second of our three part series on Canberra’s public, Catholic and independent schools, Alex Tolmie explores the ACT Catholic School system.

Canberra is privileged to have a high quality schooling system made up of public, Catholic and independent schools. Schools of different philosophies and affiliations contribute to the richness and diversity of our community.

Though it seems like the year has only just begun and with enrolments for most schools in the ACT now open, it’s the ideal time to think about which school to enrol your child in for the 2016 school year. Enrolments for ACT public schools (preschool to college) opened last month and enrolments for ACT Catholic schools having opened earlier this week. Enrolments for ACT independent schools open on a school by school basis. So if you’re hoping to enrol your child in the school of your choice it is important to do your research and get in as quickly as possible.


Catholic schools seek to contribute to the creation of an Australian community that is highly educated, skilled and cultured with an ability to promote and embrace a critical analysis of social issues, the expansion of knowledge and the pursuit of truth.

Families who enrol in Catholic schools respect and support the Catholic identity of the school and acknowledge the importance of religious education for their children. Catholic schools are open to all who support the philosophy, values and aims of Catholic schooling.

Teachers in Catholic schools support and facilitate the academic, physical and spiritual development of their students, participate in worship and prayer in the school in co-operation with the local parish, and adhere to Catholic principles and values by personal example, integrity and behaviour.


The Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn supports 62 systemic schools in both the ACT and NSW with 36 of those in Canberra. This does not include the three independent Catholic secondary schools (Daramalan College, Marist College and St Edmund’s College).

Canberra’s Catholic systemic schools include early learning centres, primary schools and secondary colleges. The Catholic Education Office provides the following information on each:

Catholic early learning centres (ELC) provide a preschool education for four year olds and are innovative and play-based, catering for the interests of individual children with a curriculum based on the ACT Early Years Learning Framework. Childcare is also offered outside normal school hours and during school holiday periods. Six centres currently operate alongside the existing primary school campuses in Curtin (Holy Trinity), Gowrie (Holy Family), Harrison (Mother Teresa), Holder (St Jude’s), Nicholls (Holy  Spirit), O’Connor (St Joseph’s) and Charnwood (St Thomas Aquinas). There is an expectation that students enrolled in an ELC will continue their Catholic primary education at their local Parish primary school.

Catholic primary schools for students in Years K – 6 strive to build an exciting and dynamic environment where children flourish to the best of their abilities; academically, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually. There are 24 schools across Canberra from Amaroo to Conder.

Catholic secondary colleges provide education for students in Years 7 – 12. The five colleges include two all-girls schools (Merici College, Braddon and St Clare’s College, Griffith) and four co-educational schools (St Mary MacKillop College, Isabella Plains campus {Years 10-12} and Wanniassa Campus {Years 7-9}, St John Paul II College, Nicholls, and St Francis Xavier College, Florey). Each school has a unique culture and educational policies and it’s worth visiting their upcoming open nights to get a first-hand perspective. You can find out when these are by visiting the school’s website linked above.

Stay tuned to HerCanberra for the final instalment about Canberra’s high quality schooling system: Our guide to ACT Independent schools.


Alex Tolmie

Alex is the founder and co-chair of the Department of Education and Training Women's Network and a mum of two gorgeous little girls. She has overcome big challenges as a new mother and now loves to help others become confident, joyful mamas themselves. She blogs about her experience at draxela.com More about the Author