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    It is with much pleasure that I present the 2014 Annual Report of the Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM).

    Steve-ElderThe report brings together the many activities and achievements of Catholic education in 2014 in the context of the objectives and the five action areas of the 2011–2015 Directions for Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Melbourne:

    • Faith and Identity
    • Learning and Teaching
    • Leadership
    • Partnerships
    • Finance and Resources.

    Catholic education in Melbourne is thriving, with schools continuing to increase their enrolment share. St Mary of the Cross School opened at Point Cook, and construction was completed for three primary schools to open in 2015. At least eight more schools are planned in the next decade. Planning for future Catholic education provision will now be guided and assisted by our first Strategic School Provision Plan for the Archdiocese of Melbourne – a significant milestone and one which will ensure a proactive response to future demand for Catholic education.

    Efforts to secure equitable and sustainable funding for Catholic schools continued at both national and state levels. The CEOM was able to secure a commitment to legislate annual funding for Catholic schools at 25% of the cost of government education from both major parties at the 2014 State Election. This historic agreement means that Catholic students have ongoing support from the Victorian Government for the first time since settlement in the state. The legislation was passed by the Victorian Parliament in 2015.

    The CEOM’s biennial Religious Education conference was a moving occasion for many. International and local presenters informed and inspired participants, encouraging them to ‘become all flame’ in their witness to Christ through their life and their work. The Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) project continued helping schools to strengthen their Catholic identity, and it increasingly assisted staff groups across the CEOM to make explicit connections between their work and Catholic identity.

    One of the high points of 2014 was the inaugural Time to Shine Gala, showcasing the talents of students at our secondary colleges. Highlighting Catholic education’s strong commitment to the performing arts, our students featured as dancers, musicians and singers in this high-calibre artistic production. The two-hour entertainment line-up, jam-packed with 26 acts, both delighted and enthralled audiences. It was a resounding success and a reminder of the privilege and responsibility we share with parents, schools and the community in providing every opportunity for children and young people to flourish.

    The Catholic Leadership Centre was officially blessed and opened in May. It has gone from strength to strength as a centre of faith, fellowship and learning, fulfilling its role of building leadership capability in Catholic education and beyond. Our biennial Leadership conference in November was a reminder of our system’s school improvement journey over the past decade and an opportunity to explore the concept and value of system leadership for achieving the best possible outcomes for every student in our schools.

    I am grateful to all the school leaders, teachers, other school staff, our bishops, priests and religious, our students’ families, our own staff and our community partners, who contributed so much in 2014 to the growth and development of the children and young people in our care. With the grace of God we will continue to strengthen our collaborative efforts to build communities of learning where our children and young people can grow in faith, knowledge, compassion and hope, ready to shape their world for everyone’s benefit. 

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    Stephen Elder
    Executive Director of Catholic Education

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