Sacred Heart College principal Maria Neville-Foster pictured with students.

Benefits in faith-based education

Published on Friday, 28 August 2020, 1:54 p.m. Print Article

A study that found students at Catholic and other state-integrated schools have a better chance of achieving University Entrance (UE) is not surprising, says Sacred Heart College Principal Maria Neville-Foster.

The research by business think tank the NZ Initiative, produced in association with the New Zealand Herald, found that one’s chances of finishing school with UE can be increased by 8.3 percentage points by sending them to an integrated school, or by 6.9 points at a private school, compared with attending your local state school, after adjusting each school's results for each student's personal and family background.

Students attending state schools between 2008 and 2017 had an average chance of only 30.5 per cent of leaving school with UE, the NZ Herald reported.

That increased to 37.4 per cent in a private school and 38.8 per cent in an integrated school.

The data looked at 398,961 students across all of the country's 480 secondary schools over the 10-years.

Mrs Neville-Foster says the findings are indicative of the way Catholic schools push for personal excellence and focus on the student and their individual needs.

Sacred Heart College, a state-integrated Catholic girls’ school, is guided by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, which states that “achieving the best possible academic standards is a goal for all Catholic schools”.

“In its academic standards, the Catholic school is required to be ‘at least as outstanding’ as other schools in its area. Parents should not have to choose between the best academic standards and a Catholic education; the Catholic school should embody both.”

“Expecting and facilitating the achievement of the best possible academic standards for all children, whatever their ability, is part of enabling each student to use his or her God-given talents in promoting the good of society and the spread of the kingdom of God,” it states.

Mrs Neville-Foster says their “true belief is that all students are given the opportunity to achieve their “God-given potential”. And that is only possible when they look at the Hauora - the whole person.

They support each student to realise their best academically, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

“It is about developing their character to be strong, independent, inspiring women of the future. We do that by using our gospel values to help guide them around their decisions about how they achieve and perform personally and inter-relationally.”

“To be able to achieve at a high level, we need to be able to look after ourselves and our well-being. And we have to do that in order to achieve our goals.” 

As a school, they focus on “fitting the system around the student, not the student into the system”.

Since coming to SHC, she has seen an increase in people choosing Catholic-based education due to the growing realisation that it is a “better option”.

“I think people are beginning to realise that in this modern world those key skills of having a strong faith-based education is important for young people to develop the ability to be confident, contributing members of society.”  

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