New Intensive English Learning Centre to enhance language needs of diverse community

01 September 2022

Photo courtesy of Matt Biocich

To meet the growing need in the community as well as supporting Catholic Education Western Australia’s vision of creating engaged learning environments which are Christ-centred and child-focused , a new Intensive English Learning Centre at Majella CPS was opened on 27 July.

The opening ceremony was attended by Catholic Education Western Australia Executive Director, Dr Debra Sayce, Ministerial Multicultural Advisory Council member Cavaliere, Enzo Sirna AM, representing the Minister for Multicultural Interests, Hon Dr Tony Buti MLA, Monsignor Michael Keating, St Gerard Majella Parish Priest Father Daniel Chama, principal representative, and the school community.

Attendees were given a tour of the space, which will also serve students from 36 nearby Catholic primary schools.

Majella Principal David Barns thanked those who made the English Centre dream a reality and explained the growing needs of the diverse population of the Balga community.

“The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census revealed that close to 50% of the population living in the Balga area spoke a language other than English. This is well above the 20% average for the wider Perth Area. The main languages spoken include Vietnamese (7%), Arabic (4%), Burmese (2%) and Punjabi (1%). In the Balga area alone, there was a total of 150 different languages spoken, making it one of the most culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse suburbs in the Perth metropolitan area,” Mr Barns said.

“Our students come from 23 different countries. Within a 20 km radius of Majella, there are 36 other Catholic primary schools, and it is from these schools that the initial catchment area for Intensive English Centre students will come from,”

Majella Catholic Primary School Principal David Barns.

“We have 216 students enrolled from kindergarten through to Year 6 and our families come from varied and diverse backgrounds. Over 70% of the students enrolled speak a language other than English at home. Combined they speak a total of 25 different languages.” he said.

In her address to the school community, Dr Debra Sayce said the planning of the Centre began last year, with a working party set up to explore a Catholic primary school Intensive English Centre to complement the already successful centre at Aranmore Catholic College.

“With the wonderful advocacy of David Barns, the efforts of the school leadership, staff, community, parent and office personnel, the IEC was open.

“We want our schools to be communities of excellence that empower students to achieve their God-given potential. We do this through the provision of quality learning experiences,” Dr Sayce said.

“I have no doubt that the students and teachers who go through this Centre will reflect Majella Catholic schools’ desire whereby the students are prepared to learn confidently and take joy and pride in their achievements. Students will participate fully in a diverse and changing world. I look forward to celebrating the achievements of every child as they progress through their learning journey here.”


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