2.24 Planning for School Provision

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Policy 2.24

Planning for School Provision in the Archdiocese of Melbourne

RationaleImage of a school building

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 imbued 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 Church’s responsibility to establish and direct Catholic schools. It is the local bishop’s responsibility to watch over Catholic schools to ensure they ‘offer an education imbued with the Christian spirit’1 based on sound religious instruction and supported by skilled teachers who model Christian values. The Australian bishops established Catholic schools in the 1860s as the main instrument of catechesis and sacramental preparation for Catholic children.2 

In the Archdiocese of Melbourne, as in the rest of Australia, the bishops continue to promote Catholic schools and evaluate their progress in transmission of the faith. This divine mandate from Jesus Christ has been renewed and re-imaged through the history of the Church. The Second Vatican Council re-issued the call to be the ‘light to the nations’ and Pope John Paul II called all Christians to join in what he called a ‘new evangelisation and mission to the nations’, a call that he states, ‘no believer or institution of the Church is exempt from, to proclaim Christ to all people.’3 

In keeping with the above, Catholic Education Melbourne aims to provide a place in a Catholic school for every Catholic student in the Archdiocese whose parents so choose. This requires long-term strategic planning for the establishment of new schools as well as monitoring the viability of existing schools.

In order to honour this commitment to high quality provision of a Catholic education, planning principles and preferred models to support this policy are generated for the development of new schools and are regularly revised. Benchmarks are clearly established to assist the processes involved in the ongoing assessment of existing schools’ viability. This policy and accompanying procedures outline the guiding principles and essential procedural requirements associated with these matters.


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

Accessibility: Children of Catholic families should 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: The availability of teachers committed to mission and trained and formed to further it in the proposed setting, without diluting the availability of such teachers to other Catholic schools, should be assessed regularly. The availability of quality teachers from curriculum and leadership perspectives are fundamental considerations in the planning process.

Comprehensive and rational provisionCatholic Education Melbourne, together with parish authorities across the Archdiocese, has the responsibility to provide and maintain access to local primary and secondary schools as far as reasonably possible.
Collaboration and consultation: Decisions should be arrived at through a just process involving participation of all key stakeholders. Decisions ultimately rest with the local canonical authority, following a comprehensive consultative process with the stakeholders.

Evidence-based planning: Decisions should be informed by an analysis of data relating to the local context as well as regional and state-wide trends.

Learning-focused provision: Decisions should be underpinned by a rigorous educational rationale, including facility design that meets contemporary teaching and learning principles.

Financial feasibility: Financial models that demonstrate currency and ongoing feasibility should inform 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.


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, proposals for new or amended provision will be:

  • inspired by a pastoral mission
  • in accordance with strategic plans, endorsed by the local canonical authority, which identify need well 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 by Catholic Education Melbourne for a school
  • 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 further advanced to other Archdiocesan levels
  • based on demonstrably feasible financial models
  • inspired by an educational vision, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies that are inspired by Gospel values, consistent with educational trends and government accountability requirements.

Strategic planning for the establishment of new schools and/or for significant changes to existing school provision must be observant of and responsive to a range of viability criteria and benchmarks as outlined in accompanying procedures.

New Schools
The Archdiocese, through Catholic Education Melbourne, has viability criteria that must be observed in planning for a new school. It also has procedural requirements that need to be followed in relation to consultation, site purchase and planning steering groups. These are outlined in the accompanying Procedures for the Establishment of New Schools.

School Closures
The Archdiocese, through Catholic Education Melbourne, has established indicators and 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.


 1 Code of Cannon Law 1983, Latin-English edn, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, New English translation
2 Waters, IB 2004, ‘Enrolment Policy and Canonical Implications’, Paper prepared for the Enrolment Policy Review Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
3 John Paul II (Pope) Redemptoris missio, St Paul Publications, Homebush, NSW, 1990, no. 3.

 Support Documents

Catholic Education Office Melbourne 2004, Planning for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, 3rd edition.
Catholic Education Office Melbourne, Policy 2.4, Enrolment for Schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, October 2007, revised.

Catholic Education Melbourne May 2008