“Providing an innovative, online tool to support students across the Dioceses with reading and research was the key educational objective of the process.”Alison Forster, School Information System Manager
|At a Glance|
The 29 Catholic schools and colleges of the Cairns Diocese educate almost 11,200 students – from Tully in the south, west to the Atherton Tablelands, and north to the Torres Strait.
Most schools are clustered around the populous centres of Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands and the Innisfail/Johnstone district. All schools, except the most remote schools at Thursday Island (and its campus on Hammond Island) and Weipa, are within two hours driving time of Cairns.
Diocese schools vary in size from less than 40 students at the smallest Primary School to over 1,700 students at the largest P - 12 School in Cairns.
Their aim is to provide a consistent, quality education that is not merely academic, but also focuses on the full development of the child – intellectually, spiritually, physically, morally and emotionally.
Located in Cairns, the Diocese Resource Centre is a place of reflection, learning, collaboration, and creativity. It supports the educational, personal and spiritual growth of the Cairns Catholic faith community through the provision of quality information resources and services.
The Centre provides a host of services to school library staff and other stakeholders across the Diocese and broader community.
Resource Centre catalogue resources include:
The Centre also acts as a meeting space for small workgroups and is responsible for sourcing and provision of new and current resources, as well as providing phone and in-person support on all thing’s library related.
School Information Systems Manager, Alison Forster, joined the central office team in 2014 and oversees a range of systems used across all schools.
With significant variance in school size, providing consistent central systems and services helps to provide equity and strengthen the holistic educational experience for all students, Alison explained.
One of these systems is their Oliver v5 school library software, which was selected and rolled out across schools in 2018/2019.
“Providing an innovative, online tool to support students across the Dioceses with reading and research was the key educational objective of the process.”
Additional objectives included improving support and ensuring system reliability and security.
“Support becomes more effective when everyone is using the same platform. Reliability, data security and privacy were also pivotal to us.”
Integration between systems was also a factor. Alison’s management of a range of Diocese wide systems, including databases, finance systems, reporting and time tabling means schools can access central knowledge and optimum performance through system integration.
Finally, the Cairns Diocese work closely with Brisbane Catholic Education Diocese who also use Oliver v5 at all schools.
“Partnering with Brisbane Catholic Education on school systems creates greater breadth of knowledge, value and improved user experience for everyone.”
While not a direct user of the software, Alison said she could see that the Oliver v5 system created a lot more opportunity for engaging students and tracking reading than their previous system.
Anne Petre is the Library Technician, School Information Systems for the Diocese. Anne supported schools through the implementation of their new software, which includes Softlink’s information and resource curating tool LearnPath as well as their Oliver v5 system. She continues to provide central support for all schools in the Diocese.
Both Alison and Anne have appreciated the quality of the training and support provided by Softlink.
“I sat in on a couple of training sessions that Softlink Training Manager Russell McGrath delivered and he’s very good. The support and communication we’ve had during the implementation has also been great,” Alison said.
Anne explains that while diversity of school size and region means that individual school libraries are structured and resourced differently, all schools now have access to eBooks as well as physical books.
“It’s early days but the feedback we’ve had from schools that are promoting resources and online access has been very positive,” Anne said.