Check out our frequently asked questions about Re-thinking the future of our schools community conversation.
Pathway To Change
How will the community consultation work?
In the coming months, we will undertake a comprehensive community consultation process. This will include:
- focus groups with parents of children in Jewish and government schools, as well as teaching staff;
- one on one interviews with the Principals, Presidents and Boards of the four schools, and with key philanthropists;
- public consultations over Zoom (or similar platforms) and
- communal surveys.
The consultation will be undertaken by Monash University, without any bias or set agenda. The identity of participants and their feedback will be anonymised in all documentation and reporting to create the conditions for an open and honest exchange of ideas.
How can I contribute my views on the discussion paper?
We want to hear your views and we invite you to contribute to this important conversation. You can do this by leaving a comment on our website www.jewishschoolsproject.com or Facebook page, by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org or by participating in one of our consultation sessions. Details of the consultation sessions will be made available in the coming weeks.
What are the next steps after the consultation period?
The Working Group will consider the feedback from all stakeholders and undertake further analysis and modelling. In 2022 we will publish an updated Discussion Paper that will reflect the feedback from stakeholders and include the findings of the further analysis.
If the community is divided regarding which option is best, how will the Working Group formulate its recommendations?
The consultations will provide rich and valuable insights into the community’s views, on how we safeguard the future of our schools and our community.
We will continue to engage with the community over the coming months and years, and will update and publish the Discussion Paper on a regular basis until a clear pathway, supported by our community, emerges.
Who appointed the Working Group?
The Working Group is a self-appointed group of volunteers with extensive experience in schools and/or communal leadership. They are seeking to act as honest brokers, highlighting to the community the current and future challenges facing our schools and suggesting some possible solutions. They will listen carefully and thoughtfully to feedback from all stakeholders, before making recommendations to improve accessibility to our schools.
Over the coming months, the support base of the Working Group will be broadened to include community leaders and philanthropists.
We believe that change is inevitable and in time, we will find the right way forward for our community.
What do the schools themselves think of this project?
While each of the four schools may have differing views on the best way forward, all four schools share a commitment to making Jewish education more accessible.
The Working Group will continue to liaise and work closely with each of the four schools throughout the consultation process and will seek to retain their engagement and support.
Will any of the recommendations be implemented if the schools don’t support them?
There will be limited opportunity to bring about change in the unlikely event that none of the four schools are willing to adopt any recommendations.
Securing the support of all, or at least some the schools will be important to the success of the project. We believe that the schools will welcome and support sensible approaches to making Jewish education more accessible, and that with the engagement of philanthropists and the community, the report will be a catalyst to achieve positive change.
Why are only four of the Jewish schools mentioned in the discussion paper?
The discussion paper canvasses possible options for Melbourne’s four Prep to Year 12 co-educational schools.
Opportunities for greater collaboration between schools, such as the Fee Assessment Board, could apply to all our schools, including the strictly orthodox schools as they do not rely on the co-education of boys and girls.
The community is invited to make additional suggestions to improve the sustainability of our schools, including the strictly orthodox schools.
What bearing does the business plan being undertaken by government on the redevelopment of Caulfield Hospital on the Kooyong Road site, potentially to be shared with Scopus, have on this project?
Depending on the outcome of the business plan, the Caulfield Hospital site may be considered as one of a number of potential locations to accommodate the options that have been canvassed in the Consultation Paper but it is not critical to the success of the project.
What will the impact of a VCE School be on the remaining schools? Will they become Prep to Year 9 schools and how will it impact enrolments, quality of education and fees?
This Report does not address the impact of a new VCE School on existing Jewish Day Schools. The intent of a new VCE School would be to strengthen Jewish education in the community, and to ensure that our schools remain viable and successful. If there is support for the establishment of a new VCE School, a further report will be undertaken to analyse the impact (both positive and negative) of the VCE School on our existing schools.
Who will be the School Council and Principal of the new VCE School?
If the community decides to embrace a VCE school, there will be consultation with all four schools as to the manner of appointing the first Council.
The School Council would be responsible for recruiting a Principal.
After the initial term, the parents of the VCE School would elect the School Council in accordance with the Rules of the Constitution.
What will the admission policy be in the new VCE school for children who are not halachically Jewish according to orthodox Jewish law?
The VCE School will cater to Jewish children from Year 10 to Year 12 inclusive. This will include any student who identifies as Jewish and is not a member of another religion, or any student who is currently undergoing a conversion process to become Jewish.
Will the new VCE school accept students from any school including government schools?
Yes. Students enrolling from a government schools, will be accepted into the VCE School, subject to availability.
What if a student isn’t happy or if there is a crisis at the VCE school? Does operating one VCE school instead of four reduce choice for parents and students and introduce some risk by eliminating options if there is a significant crisis at the school or that the school is not successful?
Operating one new VCE school, instead of four, will reduce the choice of schools for the community (for VCE) and limit the pathways for students attending a Jewish school. However, in many ways, student choice will be enhanced. A larger and purpose built VCE school provides students with more subject and teacher choice, an increased number of specialist teachers and facilities, a larger cohort of students from which to form friendships and access to greater diversity in Jewish life and learning.
The new VCE School will also be required, as part of the registration process, to maintain robust policies in regard to responding to emergencies and critical incidents. Therefore, on balance while alternatives are reduced, a combined VCE School does offer the community a more diverse and richer learning environment.
If schools merge at Year 7, how will students from two high schools all fit on one campus?
A merger of two high schools on one campus will require capital works in the intake school, to cater to the larger cohort of students. This could be funded by investment from philanthropists or from the divestment of surplus land resulting from the merger.
Alternatively, it may be possible to operate Years 7-9 from one school, and Years 10-12 from the other school, thereby reducing the need for capital works.
How will the individual ethos, philosophy and values of schools be retained in a merger?
Retaining the values, ethos and philosophy of the two schools will be central to any merger. Some compromises will be inevitable, but choice and diversity will be celebrated and respected. Students will have the option to participate in a variety of Jewish education streams, reflective of the diversity of beliefs and practices of the merged schools.
Which schools would merge?
School mergers could occur in several ways and any recommendation regarding which schools would merge will be based on feedback from the relevant schools.
Where would the VCE Academy be located and how will travel and timetabling issues be managed?
The logistics of operating a VCE Academy, have not yet been resolved. This is best managed by the schools themselves. If there is agreement to proceed with a VCE Academy, the Presidents and Principals of the participating schools could work collaboratively to resolve any logistic issues. The Working Group could have a role in facilitating these discussions.
Do all four schools have to agree to operate a VCE Academy for this option to be successful?
No. A VCE Academy could still be a viable option even if only 2 or 3 schools decide to bring students together for VCE subjects with low student numbers.
Fee Assessment Board
What if I can’t afford the fees set by the Fee Assessment Board? Will bursaries still be available?
It is possible for the Fee Assessment Board to allocate bursaries to families with little or no capacity to pay fees, subject to agreement by the participating schools.
If there are more applicants than places available in the year level, how will the Board determine who receives the place? Will it be based on who can pay the most fees?
The participating schools will retain full responsibility for and control of the enrolment process. The role of the Fee Assessment Board will be contained to assessing the fee that is payable by the parent. It is possible that in some cases, the assessed fee payable by the parent may be topped up by a donor funded voucher.
Will I have to be reassessed every year, and if so, what if the Board increases my fee and I can no longer afford to send my child to the school? Will I have to pull them out?
The Fee Assessment Board will determine the frequency of fee assessments. It is envisaged that any material changes to the fee assessments would be commensurate with changes in the parent’s financial circumstances.