Winning streak continues for Parramatta education leaders

21 October 2021
Students participate in NAIDOC Week celebrations at St Joseph's Primary School, Kingswood. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied.


Just days after big wins at the NSW Training Awards, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta is celebrating again after winning two prestigious Australian Council for Education Leaders (ACEL) NSW Awards.

Jarara Indigenous Education Unit has won the ACEL NSW Leadership Award and St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill teacher Olivia Phillips has taken out the Mary Armstrong Award for Early Career Leadership.

Making meaningful connections for vulnerable students

Learning Support Teacher and Information & Software Technology Teacher Olivia Phillips has transformed the learning experience of vulnerable students at St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill. Using her tech-savvy skill set, the young leader created virtual personalised learning spaces that led her to develop a suite of tools that support students in flexible pathways. Working with fellow teachers, Olivia develops individual lessons that are not only relevant to the subject but make a meaningful connection with the student.

Learning Support Teacher and Information & Software Technology Teacher Olivia Phillips from St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied

“I am both humbled and grateful to achieve this milestone so early in my career. I believe the lessons life has taught me and the connections I have made with others have led me to this accomplishment,” Olivia said.

“I hope as I continue my teaching journey I can inspire the same growth mindset for my students so they too can embrace opportunity and achieve great things.”

Principal of St Agnes, Lisa-Maree Browning said Olivia’s work originally started to support students at Marist Learning Zone (MLZ) which, in partnership with Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, supports young people struggling to stay connected with their schooling.

“Seeing its success in increased engagement and learning outcomes, the work was expanded during COVID-19 to support students in flexible learning environments, resulting in increased learning success and feelings of inclusion,” said Lisa-Maree.

“As a leader, I am delighted by this recognition of Olivia – she is an incredible asset to the school and Diocese.”

Indigenous Education Unit continues to close the gap in educational opportunities

Jarara Indigenous Education Unit works across all 80 Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta schools, providing deep engagement between respected community Elders and Aboriginal students.

Working in partnership with schools and specialist learning staff, the Jarara team helps to provide students with high-quality learning and wellbeing support including the development of tailored Personalised Learning Plans for each student.

Jarara Indigenous Education Unit’s Josh Sly (L) leads an Acknowledgement of Country during Harmony Day celebrations at St Agnes Catholic High School, Rooty Hill. Image: St Agnes Catholic High School/Supplied

Julie Waddell, a proud woman of Kamilaroi descent and Student Services Leading Teacher Jarara, said the team “values the opportunity to work with our community in empowering our next generations” and was greatly honoured to receive this award.

“We acknowledge the support of our CEDP Leadership, and firmly believe that we can continue to close the gap through equitable educational opportunities and outcomes for our students,” Julie said.

“Our Diocese has a firm commitment to recognising and acknowledging the deep spiritual connection to the land that our community holds on our journey of true reconciliation.”

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director Greg Whitby said the awards highlight the outstanding work of staff in transforming learning for children and young people in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

“We are so proud of the work of the Jarara team, particularly in support and advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families. And it is so pleasing to see young teachers like Olivia leading the way in the schools in the Diocese and making a significant difference to learning and professional practice.”

Jarara Indigenous Education Unit is also a finalist in the 2021 WSABE (Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence) Awards, and is located at the Aengus Kavanagh Centre (AKC), Mount Druitt. The team works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families across primary and secondary Catholic schools in the Diocese of Parramatta. It aims to promote the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history throughout the Diocese by building cultural awareness and capacity of all.

In 2022, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta will host the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Education NSW Conference. The organisation’s commitment to Reconciliation will also be seen through its first Reconciliation Action Plan, to be launched early next year.

With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.


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