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St Ignatius celebrates connection to Bourke community

St Ignatius Principal, John Cowan, wants his school to continue as an important part of the community. PHOTO Noel Fisher

There is rarely a community event in Bourke which is not supported in some way by the school community of St Ignatius Catholic Parish School.

From sausage sizzles to taking part in Anzac Day ceremonies and the community events that shape the town, St Ignatius students, staff and Parents and Friends members are there, lending a hand.

This week is Catholic Schools Week, and it is fitting that St Ignatius is celebrating not only its 151st anniversary but also the legacy the school has established as part of the Bourke community.

For Principal John Cowan, that legacy has not come about by accident, but by design, as part of what he calls its ‘positive education model’.

“I’ve been here for three and a half years, and since arriving in 2019, I think the main contribution is the school’s sense of community, from the parents and the wider Bourke community,” he said.

“The love for the school is inspiring and it makes you want to come to work every day to contribute to that.

“One of the philosophies here is positive education, and one of our underlying principles is that you feel good when you contribute to something.

“That aspect of wellbeing comes from the belief that if you do good, you feel good. It’s a way for each person to develop character strengths, it’s how we initiate our leadership, bravery and courage, the ideology to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

“Even with our recruitment process, we do the same thing, by demonstrating how teachers and staff can contribute and how they can get involved in the community,” Mr Cowan said.

The present conflicts in education in NSW, with teachers voting to strike for better staffing levels and pay increases, impacts on St Ignatius as they do on public schools, and Mr Cowan admits it is a struggle to attract teachers to a remote location like Bourke.

“Recruitment is always an issue in Catholic education but through the great partnerships we have developed we are retaining staff longer than their contracts,” he said.

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