There has been Catholic Education in the Diocese of Parramatta since before the Second World War. There are 76 Catholic systemic schools in the diocese (54 primary and 22 secondary) with a total student population of around 41,000. There are also six congregational (independent Catholic) schools.
A growing population saw many schools open in the years before the Second World War. Built and staffed with absolutely no government financial assistance, the schools served Catholic communities in Blacktown, East Granville, Guildford, Katoomba and Castle Hill.
Australia’s population grew rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s. An ambitious school building program was successfully pursued to cater for new families in many developing areas, including Lalor Park, Seven Hills, Westmead and Kingswood.
Some financial relief came to Catholic schools in the 1960s with the funding of science and library facilities. However it was the 1970s that brought a new era of Commonwealth funding for all Australian schools, based on the principles of equality and diversity.
Many new schools opened in the decades that followed. These served numerous parishes, including Winston Hills, North Rocks, Kenthurst, Cranebrook and St Clair.
The Executive Director of Schools in the Parramatta Diocese is Mr Greg Whitby. In June 2007 Greg Whitby won the Education category of The Bulletin Magazine's Bulletin Bayer Smart 100, an annual list of the 100 smartest, brightest and most creative people working in Australia. (The Bulletin, 26 June 2007, pp 62–65).
Bishop Anthony Fisher is the third Bishop of Parramatta, appointed on 10 March 2010. Bishop Fisher was born in Crows Nest, NSW in 1960. He is the eldest in a family of five children, born to Gloria Maguregui. He attended St Michael's Primary School in Lane Cove, before going on to Holy Cross College,Ryde where he became a dux in 1977. He was selected to complete his studies in Melbourne, where he received an honours degree in theology.
Catholic schools in the Diocese of Parramatta accept enrolments from students who are not Catholic. All students enrolled in a Catholic school should be willing to participate in the religious activities of the school.
In the Parramatta Diocese, enrolment preference is given, in order, to:
- children of Catholic families who live in the local parish
- children of Catholic families from other parishes
- non-Catholics, in accordance to the school's enrolment vacancies
Siblings of children already enrolled in the school are considered by the same criteria above. However, within each of these categories, a sibling of a child already enrolled has preference over an applicant who does not have a sibling enrolled in the school.
Special consideration may be given to children of non-Catholic families for a number of reasons, after discussion with the school principal.
In the 2002-2003 financial year, the Australian Federal Government allocated 67 per cent of its education budget to non-government schools (including Catholic schools). The remaining 33 per cent was allocated to government schools.
In the same period, the New South Wales State Government allocated 7.3 per cent of its education budget to non-government schools. The remaining 92.7 per cent was allocated to government (state/public) schools.
In the 2003-2004 financial year, NSW Government schools received $8,227 per student from Federal and State sources. In the 2004 calendar year, NSW Catholic systemic schools received $5,933 per student from Federal and State sources(schools owned and operated by the Religious Orders are funded using a different formula). This means each NSW Catholic systemic school student received, on average, $2,294 less in government funding than a student in a government school. This gap is partly offset by fees, building levies and other charges paid by parents, as well as by support from parishes. Source: Productivity Commission (Australia), Review of Government Service Provision, Report on Government Services 2005, Volume 1, Part B ‘Education’. Report published 28 January 2005.