The future of CBC Fremantle

Last Friday at our Professional Development day I made several exciting announcements about the future of CBC Fremantle to the assembled staff that I wish to share with you.

Those of you who were at last year's Awards Evening or read my piece in the 2020 yearbook will know it is a source of frustration that many outsiders regard CBC Fremantle as having incredibly strong pastoral care with less emphasis on academics. This opinion both disturbs and slightly offends me. I can't imagine a single school where the College Leadership Team de-prioritises academics. It is, after all, the reason for our existence. ATAR scores primarily reflect a school's cohort and can also be massaged to suit. CBC Fremantle enrols all types of boys, be they outstandingly gifted, like the more than 100 students who have achieved an ATAR above 95 in the last 10 years, or have additional learning needs requiring the kind of support that CBC Fremantle offers through Academic Care. CBC does not offer academic scholarships; in fact, in my short Principalship, we have lost several outstanding students to elite Colleges who do.

CBC has very strong enrolments at the moment and into the future, albeit with a drop in 2023. The following year's applications are going gangbusters, so I feel 2023 applications may be a reflection on the disrupted year we had in 2020 – which is the time that most Year 4 parents would have made their decisions on their child's future education – and not indicative of any other trend. The worries and considerations of the COVID-19 year were considerable and we remind family and friends that we can still process applications for 2023, so don't hesitate to get in touch if you need any clarification on the process.

The reasons for enrolling your son at CBC are explicit and I believe our parents are amazing in their support and understanding of what we are attempting to achieve in partnership with them. The reasons for not being attracted to CBC Fremantle should be out of our control. Things like co-education, proximity, and certain specialist programmes; however, I believe some of the reasons parents choose other schools are within our control, and last Friday the first steps in addressing these impressions were announced.

You will have noticed the recent survey sent to you was a little top-heavy around sport. The reason is that sport is probably the main reason boys state as wanting to come here, and ironically, the main reason parents either withdraw their sons or don't enrol them in the first place. It is not CBC Fremantle's intention to change the fabric of our school at all, but we are looking at giving greater opportunities to our boys across all areas, and despite us having more sporting teams than ever before, and competing at the top level of our competitions, there is an impression that sporting opportunities are limited at our College.

Another reason parents choose to not enrol their sons here is linked to some of our facilities. Therefore, it is my pleasure to announce that we have conditional Council approval for the building of a new Arts' precinct. The new facility will have a theatre for our performing arts, specifically designed classrooms for visual arts, media and music, and a spacious green room for our drama students. Retractable seating for 200 will provide us with a variety of uses for the space, including a professional place to meet with our parents and staff and a tertiary learning environment for the boys in senior school.

Together with our last land acquisition that we hope to complete at the end of the year, we will have consolidated a footprint that will hold the College in good stead for the future.

Meanwhile, in order to complete the restructuring and renovation of some of the more tired parts of our school, we have taken up tenancy in a renovated building at 223 High Street. The space upstairs and down has been specifically designed for our Year 12 students with wonderful classrooms and open learning areas and a long-overdue common room for them to appreciate their status as the leaders of the student community. The idea is that it will be an adult learning environment where the young men take ownership of the building and manage it (with a little guidance from the adults) as they would do at university or a staffroom in a workplace. There is already a buzz of excitement among all boys, who recognise this latest initiative as a rite of passage and are looking forward to the amenity and the challenge.

It is an exciting development as it captures a preview of our vision of the future of CBC as a school combining traditional values with modern learning facilities in order to provide our young men with the best possible educational experience.  Our current Year 12 cohort will move in next term and you will have an opportunity to look inside at the first Parent/Teacher/Student meetings for Semester 2, which will be held there.

Back on the main campus, we are looking at the original school that was built in 1882 and now serves as the spiritual and historical heart of our College – our Chapel. The interior restoration was completed about eight years ago, and it is now the turn of the exterior to be returned to its former glory. With the new and refurbished buildings scheduled over the next three to four years, our original school should not, and must not, be neglected. Any school that seeks to walk with its head in the air should respect its traditions and origins, and I would like to publicly thank Terry Iannello and the Old Boys on the Alumni Association committee for organising the work scope, and donation programme, to assist in the restoration costs. We intend to commence this exciting work toward the end of the year and it should take six months.

Immediately after this is completed, the western side of the Cloisters will be re-developed. The dark and narrow stairs will be totally replaced with a new, modern glass stairwell and a lift will be added for access. Together with some aesthetic touch-ups, these two projects will improve both the optics and amenity of our beautiful Cloister.

The re-development of 223 High Street has shown what can be done to improve a building with some imagination and cladding. On our north-west corner on Ellen Street, the 1970s construction known as the Marshall Building will be extended and the building completely reconfigured and fitted out. The uniform shop on the ground level will be moved and a sit-down enclosed cafe will become an extension of the Canteen. Although you can't have a relationship with a building, and the teaching and learning that currently occurs in the Marshall Building is of the highest order, this redevelopment will result in a modern, state-of-the-art learning facility befitting our students and staff endeavours and provide a proud street-scape together with the Administration and the High School Buildings.

We commissioned our architect to produce a video showing these and other visionary projects and you can view it below. As stated, currently CBC Fremantle is enjoying excellent enrolment trends and has very healthy assets, and these plans will not come with exorbitant increases in fees. CBC is committed to remaining an affordable five stream boys' school with a rite of passage context working in partnership with our parents to help form the best possible young men. Buildings alone, without human and social capital, without deep relationships and without excellent, reflective staff will not cut the mustard. That is why the Leadership Team has made some middle leadership changes and tweaks.

Mr Shane Mancuso has accepted a change in his role from 2022. He will become the Director of Music, with a sole focus on raising the College's musical opportunities and excellence, engaging with primary schools, liaising with the Basilica and doing so without the exigencies of curriculum responsibilities for the other areas in the Arts department. A recruitment process for Head of the Arts will commence early next Term.

Our Academic Excellence Coordinator, Ms Marilyn Schmidt, has accepted a change in her role to include Research, Innovation and High Performance. Her focus will be on providing data and strategies on student engagement, opportunities for extending our most able students and engaging with other schools, especially our 'sister' schools, to provide the very best opportunities for all. An Academic Excellence Coordinator will be appointed from 2022 to assist Ms Schmidt with the important work she has done, and will continue to do, in that portfolio.

I hope this update provides you with both hope and pride that your son attends a school which, although humble, is ambitious. We are united in the goal for your son's development to take place in a loving, nurturing and academically challenging environment where no part of his school needs to be seen as a poor cousin when compared to any other school. Gospel Values, faith and service, beautiful boys, amazing parents, dedicated staff, a nurturing environment, and a first-class physical amenity —that is our focus.

God bless,

Mr Domenic Burgio