2.24 Planning for School Provision

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Policy 2.24

Planning for School Provision in the Archdiocese of Melbourne

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Rationale

Planning for the construction and consolidation of Catholic schools supports the Church’s mission. The provision of Catholic primary and secondary schools enables Catholic families to choose a Catholic education instilled with an understanding of Christ and his teachings. Planning staff at Catholic Education Melbourne work in collaboration with other archdiocesan personnel and parish authorities to ensure that archdiocesan directions and parish needs are met.

Catholic education is intrinsic to the mission of the Church. It is the responsibility of the Church to establish and direct Catholic schools. The role of the local bishop is to guide Catholic schools to ensure they ‘offer an education imbued with a Christian spirit’ based on sound religious instruction and supported by skilled teachers who model Christian values. Australian bishops established Catholic schools in the 1860s as the main instrument of catechesis and sacramental preparation for Catholic children.

In the Archdiocese of Melbourne, as in the rest of Australia, bishops continue to promote Catholic schools and evaluate their progress in transmission of the faith. This divine mandate from Jesus Christ is renewed and reimaged through the history of the Church. The Second Vatican Council reissued the call to be the ‘light of the nations’ and Pope John Paul II asked all Christians to join in ‘a new evangelization and … mission’, which he considered no believer or institution of the Church to be exempt from, ‘to proclaim Christ to all peoples’.

In keeping with the above, Catholic Education Melbourne is committed to providing a place in a Catholic school for every Catholic student in the Archdiocese whose parents so choose. To fulfil this commitment, Catholic Education Melbourne undertakes a long-term strategic planning approach to establish new schools and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the viability of existing schools.

To honour this commitment to high-quality provision of a Catholic education, this policy is supported by strong planning principles, which inform the preferred models that guide the development of new schools. The policy, planning principles and preferred models are regularly revised. Clearly defined and well-established benchmarks assist in the process of monitoring and assessing the ongoing viability of Catholic schools. This policy and accompanying procedures outline the guiding principles and essential procedural requirements associated with these matters.

Principles

Planning for changes to an existing school (e.g. an additional campus or closure) or for a new school should be consistent with the following principles.

Accessibility: Children of Catholic families will have access to quality local Catholic primary and secondary schools organised on a parish or regional basis. This should not exclude organising schools on a diocesan basis where appropriate.

Workforce: Regular assessment of the availability of teachers committed to the mission, and trained and formed to further it in the proposed setting, without diluting the availability of such teachers to other Catholic schools. The availability of quality teachers from curriculum and leadership perspectives is a fundamental consideration in the planning process.

Comprehensive and rational provision: Catholic Education Melbourne, together with parish authorities across the Archdiocese, is responsible for providing and maintaining access to local primary and secondary schools as far as reasonably possible.

Collaboration and consultation: Decision-making is undertaken through a just and comprehensive process involving participation of all key stakeholders. Decisions ultimately rest with the local canonical authority.

Evidence-based planning: Decisions are informed by analysis of data relating to the local context in addition to regional and statewide trends.

Learning-focused provision: Decisions are informed by a rigorous educational rationale, including facility design to meet contemporary teaching and learning principles.

Financial feasibility: Financial models that demonstrate currency and ongoing feasibility inform all planning decisions.

Compliance: The Catholic education system operates within political, economic and legal contexts; therefore, Catholic schools must comply with relevant state and Commonwealth legislation. The minimum standards and other requirements are set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.) and Schedule 4 of the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 (ETR Regulations). These are administered by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA). Some of the minimum standards pertain to:

  • governance (Schedule 4 clause 15 of the ETR Regulations)
  • not-for-profit status (Schedule 4 clause 17 of the ETR Regulations)
  • enrolment (Schedule 4 clause 7 of the  ETR Regulations)
  • curriculum (Schedule 4 clause 6 of the ETR Regulations)
  • school infrastructure (Schedule 4 clause 13 of the ETR Regulations).

The procedures and supporting information outlined in subsequent sections of this policy demonstrate how Catholic Education Melbourne meets the minimum standards required by the VRQA.

Procedures

It is incumbent on Catholic Education Melbourne staff and other stakeholders to act in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined above. As a consequence of the implementation of these principles, all proposals for new or amended provision are:

  • inspired by a pastoral mission
  • in accordance with strategic planning endorsed by the local canonical authority to identify need in advance of provision
  • based on the demonstrated needs of local communities, within defined catchments, agreed to by those communities
  • consistent with key enrolment estimates of growth, including official short-term and long-term enrolment forecasts produced for a school by Catholic Education Melbourne
  • consistent with the provision of skilled and accredited teachers
  • in accordance with the Year 7 enrolment ceilings set in agreement with schools and school authorities
  • subject to consultation with and suitable input from local parish authorities before being advanced to the Archdiocese of Melbourne
  • based on demonstrably feasible financial models
  • inspired by an educational vision, curriculum, and teaching and learning strategies that are influenced by gospel values, consistent with educational trends and government accountability requirements.

Strategic planning for the establishment of new schools and/or significant changes to existing school provision will observe and respond to a range of viability criteria and benchmarks as outlined in the following procedures.

New Schools
To successfully plan for new schools, the Archdiocese, through Catholic Education Melbourne, adheres to set viability criteria that are tested to determine the need for a new school. Catholic Education Melbourne implements good practice procedural requirements for consulting with local stakeholders, purchasing suitable sites and establishing local planning steering groups. These are outlined in the accompanying Procedures for the Establishment of New Schools.

School Closures
The Archdiocese, through Catholic Education Melbourne, applies key indicators and standard procedures that school communities and their governing authorities must observe when considering the need for and implementation of school closures. These are outlined in the accompanying Procedures for Evaluating Ongoing School Viability.


Endnotes 

Code of Canon Law 1983, Latin–English edn, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P2N.HTM.
John Paul II (Pope) 1990, Redemptoris Missio, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_07121990_redemptoris-missio.html.

Catholic Education Melbourne 28 January 2019 (Revised)