Latest News 2021



David Johns, Principal of St Paul’s Catholic Secondary College, Kempsey, has announced that a major building program will commence at the College in November.


Stage One of the project will see the renovation of the current College Hall into a Performing Arts Centre and the construction of a state-of-the-art Sports and Fitness Centre.

The new facilities and the renovation of the existing learning spaces will support staff to continue to provide high quality Catholic Education that is based on contemporary teaching and innovative learning.

“The project marks the first stage of a four-stage masterplan for St Paul’s which will result in world-class teaching and learning facilities for students,” said David. 

"Stage two and subsequent stages will provide new Science and STEM learning facilities, visual arts spaces, advanced library and areas for community interaction."

David said one of the most exciting aspects of the first stage of the project will be the benefit for the broader Macleay and Nambucca valley communities. 

“The College will work cooperatively with the local Council and community to provide opportunities outside of school hours for the facilities to be used by community and other groups.”

Building and ehancing community

David said that Kempsey needs more venues to hold large social and fundraising events.

“As a Catholic college, I believe that we can play a crucial role in providing for events that build and enhance our local community”, said David.  

St Paul’s College draws students not only from Kempsey but also from Macksville, Nambucca, Bowraville, Valla and surrounds for their secondary education.

David said the beautiful campus and dedicated teaching staff at St Paul’s College offer a wide range of opportunities for students who want to prepare for the workforce and also for those who want to move on to further education.

David said he would like to thank the major contributors to this project, the Macleay Valley Catholic Parish for generously donating the land for the development, the Diocese of Lismore, Catholic Education and the State Government for the financial support through the Block Grant Authority. 

The College acknowledges the Dunghutti people, on whose land we live and work.  We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

David_Johns_Craig_McGoldrick_and_Hunta_Crilley_.jpegSt Paul’s Catholic Secondary College 'Reconciliation and Inclusion Group' has been successful in its grant application to establish an Australian native bush tucker garden in the grounds of the College in Kempsey. 

From the 41 applicants, St Paul's was the only secondary school to receive the $3,000 grant sponsored by the Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch. The IEU has a proud history of funding and supporting education projects that bring sustainability projects to life. The funds will go towards establishing native bush food through the innovative 'Cultural Cultivation Program'.

Principal of St Paul’s College, David Johns, said the College will establish a kitchen garden and learning area through native bush food cultivation and production as we recognise they offer exceptional culinary, nutritional, social and environmental benefits. 

“Native bush foods have been a part of the Aboriginal diet for many generations but are now gaining popularity among chefs world-wide yet at present, Aboriginal representation in the supply chain from growers to farm managers and exporters is barely 2%,” said David.

Improve employment prospects
With the ever increasing demand for bush food this program is creating employment opportunities in an industry where our students can step forward. 

“Our goal is to have students involved with native food and medicinal plants at the secondary school level, empowering our community to develop and to grow businesses in both bush foods and bush medicine products as future Wild Harvesters and Small Aussie Farmers,” said David.

“This gives direct economic opportunities in our region and for Kempsey's Traditional Owners, connection to country and culture.”

It is intended for the garden to be utilised by community as well as school faculties including Construction, Science, Food Technology, LOTE, Religion (Cultural Studies), Agriculture and in-school VET Training programs.

David said he believes this program will not only assist in connection to land but also improve the employment prospects of students through the teaching and sharing knowledge among everyone.

David Johns is pictured with College groundsman, Craig McGoldrick and student Hunta Crilley.

St Paul's College Ag team has achieved great results at the recent Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza with two of their steers placing 4th in the live judging and two other steers achieving 3rd place in carcass judging. 

Graham Bramley, Leader of Vocational Education and Training at St Paul’s said there were 150 steers entered in the competition and St Paul's students did very well as they were competing against other schools as well as private producers.   

Graham acknowledged the involvement of College parents in the program. 

"There is also a lot of behind the scenes involvement from parents who helped select the cattle in the Saleyards and ensured students were able to attend training each Thursday," said Graham.  

He particularly thanked the O'Donnell family who generously loaned their truck for the trip to Scone free of charge.  

Graham said that as well as working with the cattle, the students also learn about genetics, nutrition, pests, diseases, animal welfare and animal behaviour. 




A group of highly motivated and talented students at St Paul's College has designed and developed a hoodie that they hope may be included as a regular part of the College uniform. 

The students recognised that a more informal College jumper was needed for an extra layer of protection from the cold in the winter months and they selected the hoodie as it keeps both the body and head warm. 

The group worked with uniform supplier, Team Spirit, to develop the sample hoodie.  The College will undertake a process of consultation with the student body and the broader College community before a decision is made.

Community connection
The sample hoodie, worn in this picture by Carly Pollard-Smith, with the group of students who came up with the concept, incorporates graphics from the image titled "Community Connection", painted by a local Dunghutti/Thungutti man and artist, Jason Ridgeway of BlackBoyCreations. 

The students said that the introduction of the Indigenous design in the school uniform will be displaying to our entire community just how proud we are to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and that we respect and honour the traditional owners of our land, the Dunghutti people.

Jason’s original painting, from which the design was drawn is below.



St Paul’s College Year 11 student, Mae Turnbull, who is completing her Certificate III in Agriculture as part of the Student Based Apprenticeships


and Traineeships program, is undertaking a placement program at an Austral Eden dairy farm owned by Michael and Rebecca Jeffery.  Mae works every Monday at the dairy farm.   

Michael’s family has been farming at Austral Eden, near Kempsey, in a family partnership for 27 years and milks a herd of 300 cows. Michael is Chairman of the Board of Norco and is the Chairman of the Kempsey Dairy Industry Group.   Established in Byron Bay in 1895, Norco is a 100% Australian farmer owned dairy co-operative. 

Graham Bramley, Leader of Vocational Education and Training at St Paul’s, said there is a huge shortage of skilled rural workers across the country presently and hence plenty of opportunities for young people seeking a career in agriculture. 

The Certificate III in Agriculture offers students a comprehensive set of practical skills and the chance to specialise in a particular type of farming. It teaches students farming basics and agriculture essentials, including dealing with different weather conditions and managing sustainability and production records; how to use and maintain farming machinery, tools and equipment and how to use chemicals safely and manage biosecurity threats.



Students from St Paul's Agriculture Team are enthusiastically preparing for the upcoming Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza to be held in Scone later in October.   

The team, students from Years 7 to 12,  have been working with this group of cattle for a little over four months.  With the assistance and support of the College's Agricultural staff the team has halter-trained the steers, groomed them and tracked their growth with regular weigh-ins.   The Ag Team work outside, in their own time, before and after school (and are therefore pictured out of uniform and maskless). 

Ag students have the opportunity, in Years 11 and 12, to study for nationally recognised and accredited qualifications in Primary Industries as part of their regular Higher School Certificate study program.  They graduate with the HSC as well as a Certificate II in Primary Industries which provides with skills, training and qualifications that will give them a head start looking for a job or further training.



One of the success stories at St Paul’s Catholic College in Kempsey has been the work placement program. 

A Leader of Learning and the College’s Careers Advisor, Darran Stephens, said preparing young people for the workplace is a particular focus of the College.


He said while on the job learning has been challenging during COVID one of the Year 11 Construction students, Joel Megaloconomos, has been working with John Rootes Plumbing.

 “The College is very grateful to the many businesses who take on St Paul’s students as it makes such a difference for our students to experience the real workplace”, said Darran.

 “Working in partnership with Mid Coast Connect has also been a contributor to the success of our program”.

St Paul’s Vocational Education and Training, or VET, courses offer Year 11 and 12 students the opportunity to study for nationally recognised and accredited qualifications as part of their regular Higher School Certificate study program.

The College currently offers three VET courses: Hospitality Operations, Construction and Primary Industries. These courses count towards the HSC and, upon successful completion of their Year 12 studies, students receive a Certificate II in their chosen area. 

Australia's top VET school in 2020

In 2020, the College was recognised as Australia’s top school VET program. 

While work placement is important, the students undertaking the Certificate II in Construction also take advantage of the high quality facilities available on the College campus.

Darran said the College has a purpose-built construction teaching facility where students learn skills that enable them to work effectively and sustainably in the construction industry.

Pictured above are Year 11 VET student, Joel Megaloconomos (right) is pictured with Justin Hodgekiss of John Rootes Plumbing.



The outstanding work placement program at St Paul’s Catholic College, Kempsey, is just one of the initiatives that sets the College’s students up for a successful future. 

Two Year 12 students, Flynn McGoldrick and Radley Schubert, recently undertook work experience at Towal Creek Station.  Towal Creek, which is managed by former St Paul’s student, Newman Hollis, has hosted students over a number of years.  During the work placement, Flynn and Radley had plenty of opportunities to further develop their stock handling skills at the Station which is located approximately 70km from Kempsey in the picturesque upper reaches of our beautiful valley.

Graham Bramley, Leader of Vocational Education and Training at St Paul’s, said that he is extremely grateful to Towal Creek Station and all the businesses in the Macleay that work with the College to develop valuable skills in the students and prepare them for the workplace.  Graham said that as a teacher it is truly gratifying to see a former student like Newman taking our students on work placement. 

In 2020, St Paul’s College won the Australian Training Awards School Pathways to VET Award making it the top VET program in Australia.  It was selected for the quality of its teaching staff and the exceptional standard of its innovative and high quality programs in Primary Industries, Construction and Hospitality.

Graham said that establishing and maintaining stakeholder partnerships, with companies including Towal Creek Station, was vital in the College’s program to provide solid career opportunities for students.  The Vocational Education and Training (VET) program at St Paul’s offers Years 11 and 12 students the opportunity to attain the nationally recognised and accredited qualifications, the Certificate II in Primary Industries, Hospitality or Construction as part of their regular Higher School Certificate study program

Graham said the courses provide students with skills, training and qualifications that give them a head start in their career or further training.

JULY 2021


Message from the Principal

JUNE 2021



The acronym NAIDOC stands for National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee.

NAIDOC Week is celebrated by all Australians this year from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July and is a great opportunity for the St Paul's community to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities.

As NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of ATSI peoples it is important that we recognise and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we inhabit. The land on which the College is built is Dunghutti country. Dunghutti country is made up of eight tribal groups that reside in the Macleay Valley region. Theirs is a proud Mob, re-establishing culture, language and custom through organisations such as Saltwater Freshwater, Kinchela Boys Home Corp., Dunghutti Elders Council and SWR Figtree Descendants Ab. Corp. (to name only a few). It is through locally run organisations that the biggest achievements in their direction towards cultural consolidation have been observed as they ‘Heal Country!’  

St Paul's will increase awareness
The Dunghutti history is one that includes disruption by white settlers and saw the traditional owners lose rights to their land. However on 9 October 1997 the Dunghutti people became the first Aboriginal nation to win land under native title legislation on mainland Australia - a truly commendable achievement as a consequence of an unfortunate history.  

St Paul's will continue to promote and increase awareness of the history, culture and achievements of the traditional owners, the proud Dunghutti. On Friday 25 June we celebrated NAIDOC Week as a community with music, food, language, cultural activities and games and as we promoted this year’s theme ‘Heal Country!’

We encourage our students and community to get involved in celebrating NAIDOC Week during the school holidays. has wonderful resources to assist you in your celebrations.


St Paul’s College is very excited to be introducing the Father and Son Book Club initiative!


To listen to Year 12 Student Will Butler, Mathematics Teacher Darren Love and Literacy Coach Dane Smith speak about the benefits of reading and the role reading plays in shaping their understanding of the world please click here:                                 

For more information on the initiative or to register your interest email

“The most effective way to get boys reading is for them to read with a male role model at home.”

The book chosen for the Father and Son Book Club is "Facing Up".  Limited copies of Facing Up are available at the school library and will be lent on a first-come first-served basis.

Facing Up by Bear Grylls can be purchased  as a standalone novel at the following link: ($33.75 paperback or $16.99 EBOOK)

Alternatively, readers can save money by purchasing Bear Grylls: Two All Action adventures – Facing Up and Facing the Frozen Ocean here: ($9.99 paperback or $16.99 EBOOK)

APRIL 2021



Would you like to explore the College's beautiful campus and learn about the special values that underpin a St Paul's Catholic College education?  Then head to St Paul's College on Sea Street, Kempsey this Thursday 29 April between 4pm and 6.30pm.

Between 4pm and 5pm our College Captains (pictured here are the 2021 Captains Patrick Cotter, Jye Woodger, Emily Brenton and Phoebe Bramley) who will be among students leading tours of the campus.  Our coffee shop will be open and you can experience the College at work as staff and students demonstrate their skills.

At 5.30pm, our College Principal, David Johns will speak to families in the College Hall.   David and our senior staff will be available to meet with families and answer your questions about the quality academic care offered at the College.


St Paul's College senior leadership team, including the College Principal, David Johns, will be visiting South West Rocks and Macksville in April. 

Current parents and parents interested in finding out more about the quality education offered at St Paul's College are welcome to meet with the team.

Monday 19 April, 5pm to 6pm 
Catholic Church Hall, Gregory Street

Wednesday 21 April, 5pm to 6pm
St Patrick's School Hall, Macksville Heights Drive

If you would like further information, please call 6562 7200.

MARCH 2021



Jodie O'Loughlin was elected as the President of the St Paul's College P&F at the AGM held on Wednesday 17 March. 

Joined by the Mayor of the Kempsey Shire Council, Liz Campbell, the Committee listened to a keynote address by the new College Principal, David Johns and met the new Assistant Principal, Geoff Melville.

Bronwyn Shipton, the Assistant Principal, Mission and Wellbeing, also attended the meeting.  

Pictured left, with the College Principal, David Johns and the Macleay Valley Parish Priest, Fr James Foster are the 2021 P&F Committee members:

Jodene Barnett (Assistant Secretary), Sarah Osborne (Vice President). Deanna Peters(Secretary), David Johns (Principal) Fr James Foster (Parish Priest) , Jodie O'Loughlin (President), Kylie O'Donnell (Treasurer), Angela Bramley (Vice President)



The dedication and hard work of St Paul’s students have resulted in outstanding results at the NSW Country Swimming Championships.

As members of the Kempsey Swimming Club the students’ training involves seven swimming sessions and two land sessions each week. The students are (back row) Keeley Smith, Brielle Woodger and Jake Worthing with (front row) Adam Grant and Max Farrell.

Year 10 student, Max Farrell, achieved three top 10 finishes, eight personal bests and two club records in the 100m backstroke and the 800m freestyle.  As a result of his record at the Championships Max has qualified in the 400 free in the 16 year age category for the Australian Age Swimming Championships and the Australian Swimming Championships to be held in April.

Keeley achieved three personal bests and two top 10 finishes and Brielle had two top ten finishes, four personal bests and broke a club record in the 100m freestyle.  Jake Worthing achieved five personal bests and Adam Grant had a top 10 finish in the 400m individual medley.  Adam Grant swam eight out of ten personal bests during this swimming meet and has qualified for the NSW state open. He placed 5th in the 400m IM.




Craig McGoldrick, who graduated from St Paul’s Catholic Secondary College, Kempsey, in 2020 has commenced an innovative traineeship at the College.

For the first time, the College is offering a traineeship in Horticulture.  Craig, who is now employed full-time at St Paul’s, will also study at TAFE with the aim of attaining a Certificate II in Horticulture. 

Craig said he is excited to commence his twelve month traineeship this week.  He will work with a variety of staff helping to manage the College’s extensive gardens and playing fields.

“I love being out in nature and am looking forward to the traineeship,” said Craig. 

A keen photographer, Craig said one of the challenges of being a recent graduate and then starting work at the College is getting used to calling staff by their first names and using the staff room facilities.   

Each year, the College offers a range of traineeships to recent graduates.  This year, the traineeships are in Sport, Horticulture and Youth Ministry.  

College Principal, David Johns, said St Paul’s staff work hard to ensure that students are ready for work, university or further studies when they leave the College. 

“Thanks to the support of local businesses, we have a strong work placement and internship program,” said David.



St Paul’s College Year 10 student and champion swimmer, Max Farrell, has been selected as the 2020 Kempsey Macleay RSL Club's Sportsperson of the Year.

Max, who is the Kempsey Swimming Club Captain, trains more than 15 hours a week at Kempsey’s McElhone Pool.

He recently competed in the NSW State Age Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre at Homebush where he competed in the 400 metres freestyle and 100 metre fly and back where he placed in the top 15 in the state.

Max won a much coveted Top 10 Ribbon and placing for his 800 metres free.  This swim broke a long standing Kempsey Swimming Club record for open men's 800 free at the age of 15.

Max hopes that he gets the chance to compete in Sydney this season at the NSW Country Championships and the NSW State Open Championships.

(Acknowledgement to the Macleay Argus for this story)



David Johns, who has taken up the position of Principal of St Paul’s Catholic Secondary College, Kempsey in 2021, brings more than 30 years’ experience across diverse teaching and leadership positions throughout Australia and the United Kingdom.


David’s previous leadership positions have included Principal of St John’s Catholic College Darwin, Principal of the Islamic School of Canberra, Assistant Principal of John Paul II College and St Mary Mackillop College, Canberra and Head of Year 12 and Science Teacher at St Andrews Cathedral School in Sydney.

With degrees that include a Master of Educational Leadership, a Master of Theology and a Graduate Diploma of Adolescent Health, David believes that a school’s success relies on challenging students and staff to achieve potential within a safe environment which is relevant to regional concerns as well that of the wider world of work.

He brings to the College a vision of Catholic education that is inclusive, social justice focused and explicit in its expectations and how it is to be seen by others within the wider society.

David said that St Paul’s is an amazing school. Our patron St Paul invigorates in us all an understanding that vulnerability can been seen as a strength. When vulnerable we reach out, we ask for help, we strive to know more, be more and these are skills that will prepare us well for the ‘world of work’. St Paul’s is all about being inclusive and accepting vulnerability in a safe supportive community that inspires a future of hope for all those under our care.

“I am fortunate to step into a role surrounded by a committed staff, aspirational students and a supportive local community,” said David.

David believes that Catholic education involves embracing all who we encounter with empathy, love, and a validation of their lived experience. It is about acknowledging fears and frailties and accepting that through a community of believers we have the capability to realise the best of ourselves and of humanity.

I look forward to walking with the St Paul’s community, listening, understanding and supporting the College teaching staff to provide experiences that will allow our students to achieve their very best in all they do.