Elite schools to poach Catholic talent fear

Catholic colleges in Melbourne fear that the opening of new select-entry state high schools could lead to an unprecedented brain drain, drastically reducing class diversity.

The Age reports that the principal of Belgrave's Mater Christi College, Ms Mary Fitz-Gerald predicts the arrival of a select-entry school in Melbourne's outer east will signal an unprecedented brain drain at the girls' Catholic college, with little doubt the new school will steal her best and brightest.

Melbourne's two select-entry schools - Mac.Robertson Girls High School and Melbourne High School - have a 3 per cent cap on the number of students arriving from individual schools, but that figure is under government review before the arrival of two more select schools: one in North Melbourne and the other in Melbourne's outer east. For Mater Christi College, 3 per cent would mean losing up to eight students a year.

"It would be a significant number to lose at the higher end of the class cohort," Ms Fitz-Gerald said. "It really undermines all students because there's that loss of diversity within the class cohort of achievers, those who are determined and making good progress."

Losing those students could also have an impact on enrolments at the school, which is on the same train line as Ringwood, as it became the second choice for parents.

Mater Christi College's performance in the State Government's annual On Track data, which plots the destinations of year 12 graduates, could also suffer, Ms Fitz-Gerald said.

According to this year's data, 93 per cent of Mater Christi College graduates received a tertiary offer. If a select-entry school opened nearby, Ms Fitz-Gerald said that figure would almost certainly drop.

"I count that figure as our success, as those students are realising where their next journey starts from but it would have to fall if a select-entry school opened nearby."

As the State Government expands its select-entry schools to four, there is genuine concern among neighbouring schools that the impact will be instantaneous and crippling. St Joseph's College in Ferntree Gully is another that could suffer after the arrival of a select school in Ringwood.

Catholic schools near the North Melbourne site are also worried, including Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy, Simonds Catholic College in West Melbourne, St Joseph's College Melbourne and St Aloysius College in North Melbourne.

St Aloysius principal John Davidson said the Queensberry Street site of the select school was within four kilometres of the girls' school.

Mater Christi College
Catholic Education Office Melbourne
Heads of Mac.Robertson Girls ' High School
Melbourne High School

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16 Jul 2007