I often refer to our mighty Notre Dame College bus as the vehicle we all travel in to ensure consistency, allow explicit communication, and help to build collegiality. The mighty bus, after a few stutters early and mid-2023, is now moving forward beautifully. At the end of the 2023 school year, it was important to thank all at Notre Dame College for another great year.

We have a very bright future at Notre Dame because we do so many things right at the College. Yes, we make mistakes too, as teachers, as staff and as students. However, we own the flaws and work on improving them hoping recognition of that makes us better, as people and as a school.

In the 44 years of teaching that I have joyously experienced, every single year has seen challenges thrown my way, in whichever school or Regional Office I was working in. Some years these challenges were bigger than others. In 2023 challenges were again thrown our way. But collectively we have survived them brilliantly.

We will all remember 2023 for years to come, each one of us for different reasons. For me, it has been about the impacts of staffing shortages and retention and attraction of staff. We dealt with all of that whilst embedding a new teacher’s agreement (EBA). We have embedded the EBA brilliantly, certainly, as per feedback I have received, better than most schools in our Diocese.

Against the National trend, Notre Dame College is fully staffed to start 2024. Full staffing is a credit to how we are seen as a school in this community, and it really is about Staff who want to work here. In fact, we are in the 1 out of 10 schools that are fully staffed to start the 2024 school year.

For each job advertisement we place we still shortlist due to good numbers for most jobs. This, in a time when some schools receive no applicants for jobs advertised. With leadership roles in the school – whenever we advertise leadership roles in our school, we are flooded with internal applicants, let alone applicants from outside the school. Generally, we have sound leadership at all levels of our school. In essence, at this stage, we are a very good school that people want to work at.

Without the staff we have, we cannot be the school we are, we cannot support and educate the students and families that make Notre Dame College their choice of education. To all our staff, I am, and the College Community is, indebted to you for your professionalism, your patience and understanding.

I ask all staff, students and families that whilst at work or at home, to believe in our great school. Think about the wonderful place we work in, the people we work with who make this a special school and the outstanding students who we will remember for years to come.

I extend a warm welcome to our new staff coming on board in 2024.

Our College Theme this year is “Let Your Light Lead the Way”. At a whole school Professional Development Day late in 2023, the presenter spoke to us spoke about us being the chosen ones. She said we have been chosen to work at Notre Dame College, whether we know it or not. We have been chosen to be here, at this time, with this cohort of colleagues. It is our time now to shine our light and lead. We perform different roles as educators, but we are witness to our student’s learning. And with that we need to be genuine, be authentic. “Be who you are! Be you”.

I also see 2024 as the year for optimism. Let us be positive and have that as our overarching theme and attitude. We can make 2024 what we want it to be. We need to set our path, set our optimism, and let our light lead the way.

I also thought I would update all with the fact that Notre Dame College prides itself on offering students a wide variety of subjects and opportunities. One of the most popular subjects is VET@NDC. VET or Vocational education and training is a form of learning that enables students to develop targeted and practical skills in a wide range of industries. This type of training adds another level of learning to an already diverse range of subjects offered at the College.

Students engage in courses at school that may lead to a nationally recognised qualification, credit to other courses offered at a tertiary level and development of skills and knowledge in a chosen industry. Currently Notre Dame College offer 18 different VET courses ranging from Pre-apprenticeship courses through to full completion Certificate III. The most recent addition is Early Childhood Education and Care. This is offered alongside Health Services Assistance, Digital Screen and Media, Hospitality, Engineering and many more, some already available to students in Year 9 at the Emmaus Campus.

We boast 22 passionate and motivated trainers who are experts in their respective fields, supporting students to achieve their goals. Partnerships exist between NDC and 10 different training organisations to facilitate the courses for on-campus delivery.

Those who have been role model students have the opportunity to build on achieving even better performances in 2024. For those students who struggled in various aspects in 2023 and previous years, 2024 offers a new start and the chance for you to achieve at a greatly improved standard.

All the best for a truly successful 2024 academic and pastoral year.

John Cortese

February 2024.