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Woman appointed to head Melbourne Catholic Education Office

Susan Pascoe became the first woman and first lay person to be appointed director of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Ms Pascoe takes up her post in January, replacing Monsignor Tom Doyle, who relinquishes the position after 22 years. She will be responsible for 390 schools.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, who hired Ms Pascoe, has also placed her in charge of Catholic education policy for the state. She is currently chief executive officer of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

One of her first moves will be to garner parents' views on their satisfaction with Catholic schools. According to a report in The Age, she is aware that affordable fees is a big and ongoing issue. However, she doesn't see the need for an inquiry into Catholic education, because there's "no sense of crisis".

But one looming crisis is a shortage of principals, which is hitting most Australian education sectors. Ms Pascoe says strategies must improve to attract people to become principals, and to encourage women to take up leadership roles. Although 80 per cent of teachers in Catholic primary schools are women, only half are principals.

The Age speculated that her appointment may never have occurred if the conservative George Pell was still archbishop of Melbourne. It reported that talk in Catholic circles suggests Monsignor Doyle only decided to retire after Archbishop Pell left to become Archbishop of Sydney. The strategy was to ensure that a variety of candidates would be considered for the director's job.

A far more accurate analysis, said Ms Pascoe, is that Monsignor Doyle is 67 and a busy man, who decided it was time to quit one of his jobs. Monsignor Doyle is also a parish priest and chairman of the National Catholic Education Commission, positions he will retain.

Ms Pascoe will be working closely with Archbishop Hart, whom she describes as an efficient administrator.

Apart from hiring Ms Pascoe, he has appointed Mark Coleridge to a new position of auxiliary bishop for universities.

Catholic Education Office (Melbourne)
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority

The Age

12 Aug 2002