Going by the book? Not this college

Siena College students can discuss ideas and learn technology at the school’s new learning centre (Siena College website)

A Melbourne Catholic school that recently abolished its library has been recognised as a “school that excels”, with the school’s principal attributing the success to constant innovation. Source: The Age.

“We have always been open to trying new things and taking risks,” Siena College principal Gaynor Robson-Garth said.

This year, the library at the girls-only Catholic college in Camberwell was replaced with a “learning centre” where students can discuss ideas and learn technology, such as 3D printers and robotics.

“If you think about it, you don’t need to go to a library to do research and you don’t need a librarian to talk to you about interesting literature or books.”

Librarians have been replaced with “change adopters” who host discussions with students and teach “soft skills” such as ethical and creative thinking.

“It’s an experiment, we’re trialling it,” says Ms Robson-Garth, who will retire at the end of this year.

The neatly-groomed school, founded by the Dominican sisters in 1940, has consistently scored average VCE study scores of 34 out of 50 for the past seven years, contributing to its crowning as one of The Age’s Schools that Excel.

Last year the school did particularly well in English, and about one in three year 12 students there were high achievers in this subject.

The college is not selective, and annual fees reach around $15,550, placing it in the mid-tier price category for private schools in the area. The school is named after the 14th century mystic and theologian St Catherine of Siena, a figure Ms Robson-Garth describes as a “real woman of action”.

“She challenged people in power during the 14th century, a time when women had no place in society.”

“There is a sense that Catholic schools should service the poor,” says Ms Robson-Garth. “But we’re not in an area where there are poor, so I have this view that the role here is to educate the women who will be the leaders of the future to address the root causes of injustice.”


Schools that excel: No detentions, no libraries, no problems for this girls’ school (The Age

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