Parents save school from closure
A tremendous effort by the St Bede’s parent community has brought their beloved primary school back from the brink of closure.
The Red Hill school faced an uncertain future in 2021, with low student numbers and a drop in government funding.
Mother of three Monica Kyburz said parents had pooled their resources to fight the closure.
“It was a true team effort – our small school community possessed a wide range of skills,” she said.
Parents in the public service policy space studied funding policies and funding agreements to better understand the policy framework around Catholic school funding. Journalist parents helped manage media engagement. Parents from political backgrounds reached out to politicians at different levels of government. Parents with legal backgrounds helped develop strategies.
“A group of mums were outstanding home bakers, so they made cupcakes in St Bede’s colours and biscuits with the St Bede’s logo to distribute at Town Hall meetings,” Mrs Kyburz said.
“Another group of parents mapped out the streets surrounding our enrolment zone and delivered hundreds of flyers inviting locals to come along and support St Bede’s at the two Town Hall meetings.”
Mrs Kyburz said the cooperation of the parent body was unlike anything she had witnessed before.
“This was a group of parents who all valued their school and were willing to roll up their sleeves to help in any way they could,” she said.
Thanks to the determined campaigners, St Bede’s will remain open indefinitely.
“At the start of last year, we had approximately 130 students, but we now have 200 students enrolled for 2023,” Mrs Kyburz explained.
“That’s a huge increase and it’s primarily due to word of mouth. Our parents have been spreading the word to prospective families, many of whom are attracted to the idea of a strong community.”
Principal Andrew Casey agreed, noting his vision was to increase numbers to a sustainable level, keeping true to the school values.
“There has been a highly successful enrolment campaign,” he confirmed.
“The St Bede’s community rallied and made strong recommendations to the wider community, sharing the characteristics of St Bede’s and what is on offer to students and families.”
Mr Casey said families valued the school for its connectedness and support of students.
“St Bede’s is a small school with a big heart,” he said.
“Fr Trenton called St Bede’s ‘the jewel in the crown of the parish’.”
Mr Casey said the school board, P&F, St Bede’s Leadership team and Catholic Education had worked together to support the school.
“The school has undergone significant refurbishment of classrooms and is supported with additional teachers,” he said.
“We have driven enrolment campaigns, promoted the school well and lobbied for improvements.
Enrolments are still being received for 2022 and beyond, and I thank all for the passion and drive in keeping the school open.”
Mrs Kyburz said it was a huge relief to remain at a school that provided invested, caring teachers and a wider parent community that wanted the best for children and families.
“St Bede’s has long prided itself on being a small school with a big community and this was evident in our fight to keep the school afloat,” she said.
“It was a tremendous team effort. As a parent community we were committed to securing a future for our school.”
St Bede’s will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year.
How good is this effort- real example to us all, about what we, church,community,small groups, school parents & families can do—and ought to be doing in so many areas. May we blush, and then go DO something….