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The Catholic Education Cairns school system

Education Structure

Like all education sectors in Queensland, students in Catholic schools start their education in Prep, in the year that they are five years old by June 30. Students start secondary school in Year 7 and complete the senior phase of their learning in Year 12. 


Catholic schools deliver the Australian Curriculum. Catholic schools have an additional 2.5 hours of contact time per week, as religious education is an additional key learning area that is integrated into the curriculum. 

Our School Year

The Catholic school year is different to other education providers as it runs from late January to early December, providing more work-life balance in the lead up to the busy festive season. Catholic schools finish a week earlier than the state school system, with primary students finishing on the first Friday in December, Year 7-11 students finishing the week prior, and Year 12 students finishing another week earlier again.

Governance Structure

The Catholic Church in Australia is administratively and geographically divided into seven Archdioceses, and 21 dioceses. In Queensland, there are five Catholic dioceses, of which the Cairns Diocese is northern-most.  

The Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) serves as a peak body, exercising state-wide responsibilities in respect of Queensland’s Catholic schools. These are administered by each diocese’s autonomous education authority, headed by a Catholic Bishop. 

Responsibility for setting policy in each diocese rests with an education council or board. In Cairns, our Executive Director of Catholic Education Services (CES) implements that policy and administers schools on behalf of the diocesan authority. 

Catholic Education Services is our central office and the employing authority for our schools and colleges.  To learn more about Catholic Education Cairns and our schools, visit Who We Are