Melbourne schools ditch cap on other faiths

A cap on non-Catholic students at Melbourne Catholic schools is to be abolished, but some schools will be required to show how they are attracting more Catholic students.

The Age reports that under the existing enrolment policy for Catholic schools in Melbourne, there is a 7 per cent cap on the number of non-Catholic students that can be accepted.

However, this cap was not enforced and the non-Catholic enrolment was reaching close to 15 per cent at Catholic primary and secondary schools across the archdiocese.

Following an 18-month review of the enrolment policy, the cap will be removed and instead schools will be asked to "work towards the highest possible level of Catholic enrolment".

The final report of the review, which was accepted by Archbishop Denis Hart in December, notes that a number of schools would become unviable if the cap was enforced.

"There is no wish to make schools unviable.

"At the same time, it does not seem advisable to have a cap if it is not enforced," the final report said.

Under the new policy, the Catholic Education Office (CEO) of Melbourne will monitor school enrolments annually, and schools that do not achieve a high level of Catholic enrolment will be asked to demonstrate how they will increase it.

Any Catholic schools that believe they will not be able to achieve a high level of Catholic student enrolments will have to seek approval from the Archbishop of Melbourne for a lower level.

The CEO will determine the expected level of Catholic enrolment based on an analysis of a school's demographic profile and other local factors.

Catholic education director Susan Pascoe said that the levels would not be rigidly fixed.

"But you would not want anyone really to be exceeding the current average (of non-Catholic enrolments), which is just over 14 per cent," she said.

Ms Pascoe said that while the Catholic system did not want to be seen as exclusive, it received government funding to run Catholic schools and needed to show it was "demonstrably Catholic".

The Archdiocese of Melbourne has responsibility for 326 Catholic schools, which last year taught 136,938 students.

A decreasing Catholic percentage of enrolments and concerns about the accessibility of schools for Catholic families were some of the reasons leading to the review, which started in June 2004.

Catholics ditch cap on other faiths (The Age 23/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cathoilc Education Office, Archdiocese of Melbourne

Pastoral care, not religion, attracting parents to system (The Age 23/3/06)

23 Mar 2006