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Official says Catholic education at the crossroads

The director of Victoria's Catholic Education Commission told the Making Schools Better conference in Melbourne on Friday that there is "compelling evidence that Catholic schools are at a critical point in history".

Susan Pascoe said the overall demands on all schools to provide a high-quality education have increased in the past decade.

"The rise of mass secondary education, the decline of religious orders and the limited ability of Catholic communities to support schools financially have also placed increased pressure on Catholic schools," she suggested.

Ms Pascoe described Catholic schools as "very much community schools, closely reflecting in their mix of students the distribution of Australian society". She said that by 2001, enrolments in the Catholic school system were more evenly distributed across socio-economic deciles than government or independent schools in Victoria. She added that Catholic schools also have an impressive spread across geographic and ethnic divides in Australia.

But she alluded to the "prospect of the potential gentrification of Catholic schools" as a major problem that is beginning to prevent access to Catholic schooling for Catholic students from low-income families.

Critical time for Catholic education (The Australian 30/8/04)

Private schools to face tough tests (The Age 30/8/04)

30 Aug 2004