The story of Catholic Education Melbourne in 2017 is a story of growth in challenging times.
Demand for a Catholic education continues to grow across the Archdiocese, with many existing schools close to capacity and string of new schools set to open, including our first new secondary college in many years.
Families continue to trust the education our schools provide and Catholic education has been there as Melbourne grapples with growth rates unseen since gold rush days, expanding choice for parents in the booming suburbs of the city’s northern fringe, the Melbourne—Geelong corridor and the greater Geelong area.
It’s been a year of growth in academic achievement, with Catholic Education Melbourne students chalking up average median study scores in the VCE 3.1 per cent higher than Victorian government schools, and improvements and better than state average results across the different key NAPLAN areas of numeracy, spelling, writing and reading in different years.
2017 has been a year of growth in professional learning and child safety, with the first participants completing Australia’s only dedicated tertiary course in child protection; the Graduate Certificate in Education: Safeguarding Children and Young People, a qualification developed by the Australian Catholic University at the request of Catholic Education Melbourne.
The light that Catholic education aims to instil in our students and schools has burnt brightly, giving our pupils the sense of belonging and purpose that they need in their lives to flourish.
Mindful of Pope Francis’ words when he announced the Church’s 2018 Year of Youth – ‘A better world can be built … as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity’ – we have dedicated our efforts to equip our students with the knowledge and sense of belonging, the sense of hope and light, that will give them the confidence and capacity not only to succeed, but to make a difference.
Greater capital support from government would let us make a greater difference. Our research suggests enrolments could increase by as much as a third if greater capital works assistance was available to allow us to build facilities to meet demand.
We also face the unprecedented challenge of the Turnbull Government’s school funding policies.
Catholic Education Melbourne has been at the forefront of the national lobbying campaign to overturn these unfair measures, which not only favour some of the wealthiest schools in the country over local parish primary schools but threaten the Church’s historic mission to provide a high-quality, accessible and affordable, faith-based education open to as many families as possible.
We won’t give up this struggle. We will keep fighting for our schools. As this Annual Report shows you, there is so much we can be proud of as a school system and so much good work we must defend – and continue.
Executive Director, Catholic Education Melbourne