‘It’s not viable to continue’: Four Melbourne Catholic schools to close

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Four Melbourne Catholic schools will be closed, leaving more than 300 devastated families scrambling to find new places for their children.

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools confirmed the closures on Thursday afternoon, in what one mother called “horrendous, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking news”.

St. Bridget’s Primary School in Balwyn North.Credit: Joe Armao

The primary schools that will close at the end of the year are St Bridget’s Catholic Primary School, Balwyn North; St John’s Primary School, Clifton Hill; St Joseph’s Primary School, Black Rock; and St Mary Magdalen’s Parish School, Chadstone.

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) executive director Dr Edward Simons said alternative options were explored before making the decision.

Simons acknowledged it would be upsetting news for school communities and said MACS was committed to helping students, staff and families transition.

Schools were informed in May they were under review, as all schools with fewer than 150 students were assessed for enrolment prospects, financial and education performance, and whether enrolled families were open to attending alternative schools.

“Over the past few months, we held several meetings with principals, parish priests and parent representatives as part of the consultation process to understand how we could best support these schools,” Simons said.

“After weighing up a range of factors and careful consideration of significant community feedback, we have come to the difficult decision that it is not viable to continue operating these schools into the future.”

Vicky Young, president of St John’s Clifton Hill Parents and Friends described the decision as “horrendous, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking news”.

Young said many of St John’s families were from vulnerable and low socio-economic families and the Catholic diocese had failed its community with the process, which she described as “an absolute sham”.

“As a practising Catholic I’m abhorred by the complete amount of mistrust, failure of process, lack of governance and absolute disregard for humans and the Catholic youth they’re supposed to be fostering and supporting,” she said.

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