Kathleen Burrow Research Institute


The Kathleen Burrow Research Institute is a research unit within Catholic Schools NSW that conducts and publishes research on contemporary issues in school education to promote the advancement of education in all school sectors in Australia.

It aims to produce research that is intellectually rigorous, politically non-partisan and informed by the Catholic faith. As part of this mission, its research will promote and highlight the benefits of, and seek to dispel misconceptions about, Catholic education and related issues by going behind the headlines and beyond commonly-held views.

The work of the Institute will provide an evidence base to support Catholic Schools New South Wales in advocating for best practice in all schools, particularly in Catholic education, and to inform and engage with sector leaders and policy-makers.

About Kathleen Burrow

Kathleen Burrow (1899-1987) had a strong presence in the history of Catholic education and the Catholic Church in the 20th century.

She came from humble beginnings, growing up in a simple cottage with a dirt floor in Mudgee, and was educated at St Matthew’s Convent of Mercy School, Mudgee. She attended the University of Sydney, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, and was a founding member of the University Catholic Women’s Association.

She began her work in education as a teacher in a Sydney school. It was there she developed a focus on physical education in schools. She identified a particular need for this at orphanages and disadvantaged schools in Sydney.

Subsequently, she founded the Graham-Burrow School of Physical Education, providing exercise, deportment and dancing classes in Catholic schools throughout Australia for forty years. Shen then moved to leadership in public life, becoming President of the Legion of Catholic Women, Archdiocese of Sydney (1949-59), and of the Australian Council of Catholic Women (1957-59). She was the Australian representative (1957-65) on the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations.

She was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1956, awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1977 and the United Nations Peace Medal in 1976 and 1986.

Kathleen Burrow embodies much of what it means to be a Catholic educator. She cared deeply for her Catholic faith. She was a caring mentor, a highly principled and forthright advocate, and a superb communicator and organiser who `promoted social harmony often among divergent groups’.

She was, as described by one of her three children, “a formidable lady with a formidable intellect” and a very commanding presence. In her work, she was determined and unrelenting, though toward her children, she was supportive and encouraging with their aspirations, helping them to pursue their own goals and passions and instilling in them her own intense work ethic and passion for worthwhile causes.

Throughout her life, she demonstrated incredible strength and resilience. Despite her own challenges, which included severe rheumatoid arthritis later in life, she continued to give what she could to Catholic missions with her time, efforts and money. This generosity was facilitated by an admirable simplicity of life.

Kathleen Burrow’s dedication to her Catholic faith, family, work, education, and the underprivileged makes her an outstanding example and exceptional patron for the Kathleen Burrow Research Institute.

Inaugural Kathleen Burrow Research Institute Annual Lecture

On 26 May 2021, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP delivered the Inaugural Kathleen Burrow Research Institute Lecture. The Archbishop explored the challenging topic of the impact of secularisation on Catholic education. His lecture serves as a call to Catholic educators to continue to build a more Catholic culture in Catholic schools. Read the lecture here.

Publications

Patterns and developments in single-sex schools

Single-sex schools are a longstanding and substantial feature of Australia’s education landscape and a valued choice for many parents. This paper contributes to the discussion with a new aggregate analysis showing that, after accounting for socio-educational background and gender, single-sex schools tend to have slightly higher NAPLAN scores than co-ed schools, although with wide variation between individual schools.

Overall, the results of this analysis imply a modest academic advantage for single-sex schools, with the advantage generally greater for boys’ schools than for girls’ schools.


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HSC Public Reporting Reform

There is a long history of publicly reporting HSC results in NSW. The approach in NSW, which differs from other states and territories, is shaped via a combination of legislation, media analysis, and school disclosures.

Currently, the HSC performance of NSW schools is reported in two ways: NESA Merit Lists and media outlet rankings based on an estimation of schools’ Success Rates.

This paper acknowledges that there is considerable educational and social benefit from allowing a wider perspective on HSC performance and reporting – to acknowledge the efforts of all students and schools better and to give parents access to more meaningful information on school outcomes.

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Valuing School Reports – The Parents’ View

This report gathers parent views on the value of school reports within the context of current policy discourse on reporting on student progress and achievement. While recognising that school reports are one part of a broader spectrum of school-parent engagement, preparing school reports for parents is a Commonwealth Government requirement.

In light of this requirement, the significant time invested in preparing reports, and the longevity of school reports as part of the education system, Catholic Schools New South Wales seeks to contribute to public policy discussions on school reports by presenting the views of parents.

In this way, the report can serve as a means to support best practices in reporting on student progress and achievement and to help Catholic schools support parents in their role as ‘primary and principal’ educators of their children.


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The Case for Catholic Schools – Volume 2

The Case for Catholic Schools – Volume 2 explores how school choice is a reality where parents can choose non-government schooling alternatives that are affordable, geographically accessible, and continuously available.

It explains that for 200 years, Catholic education in Australia has delivered on these criteria, making the aspiration and promise of school choice a reality. School choice is available throughout much of Australia thanks to the nationwide network of low-fee Catholic schools.

As a consequence, Catholic schools can rightfully be called the guardians of school choice.

This report also highlights that school choice is a right, and when recognised by governments, not only meets parental demand for schooling options but can deliver benefits to all schools.


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School’s in, School’s out – says who?

Have you ever wondered who is in charge of deciding school hours? Or who decides when a school should be open or closed? With schools closing and re-opening during COVID-19, this has been an interesting and important topic of discussion.

This Issues Brief explains that decisions about the opening and closing of schools and the school calendar are, for non-government schools, largely left in local hands. This arrangement is the result of over a century of productive dialogue between the government and the non-government school sector.


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Better, Smarter Regulation for Catholic Schools in NSW

Teachers and principals have consistently reported that compliance requirements take precious time away from teaching. Teacher workloads have increased because of this compliance burden despite additional resources and more support staff.

This report, developed through a programme of consultation, seeks to address this burden and recommends solutions that will allow more time for teachers and principals to focus on their students.

The findings and recommendations  seek to provide the government and its agencies with a pathway to reform these
priority areas: teacher accreditation, Financial compliance, Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) on Students with disability, and school governance.


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The Case for Catholic Schools – Volume 1

The benefits of Catholic schools go beyond the important role of educating students. Government financial support for Catholic schools makes them affordable for more families across NSW, and means governments are relieved of part of the cost of educating Catholic school students.

This report details the savings to the government arising from these arrangements in both recurrent and capital funding. These savings mean that governments can invest more in government schools or other essential government services.


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Latest News

Oct 04, 2023

Response to Disability Royal Commission report

Catholic Schools NSW supports the fundamental and universal right of all children to an education. Catholic education supports families in educating their children across a range of settings, including mainstream schools, support classes within mainstream schools and specialist settings. Catholic...
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Sep 07, 2023

Discussion Paper: Patterns and Developments in Single-Sex Schools

Download the Discussion Paper: Patterns and Developments in Single-Sex Schools
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Sep 06, 2023

2023 Annual Report: Aboriginal Education Outcomes in NSW Catholic Schools

Download the 2023 Annual Report: Aboriginal Education Outcomes in NSW Catholic Schools. 
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