By Max Davies
Secondary and primary schools in Mitchell Shire, and in Melbourne, have made efforts to extend support to families and students at Colmont School after the school’s sudden closure.
Assumption College, Broadford Secondary College and Wallan Secondary College have indicated they would attempt to take in students where possible, however spaces are limited for high school students from year 10 and below.
Mitchell Shire primary schools have also stated they will try to assist Colmont students in years three to six where possible.
Colmont School was one of less than 20 schools in Victoria offering the International Baccalaureate, IB. Students at Colmont did not study the Victorian Certificate of Education, VCE – the course available at most schools in Victoria.
Students and families in years 11 and 12 currently undertaking the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, IBDP, will need to travel to a Melbourne-based school, such as Ivanhoe Grammar School – the nearest school to Kilmore offering the IBDP – in order to continue with the program.
Preshil in Kew also offers the IBDP and has indicated they would try to support Colmont students in years 11 and 12 where possible, however both schools are more than an hour’s drive from Kilmore.
Options for secondary schools closer to the Colmont School campus in Kilmore include Assumption College, Broadford Secondary College and Wallan Secondary College, however all three offer VCE.
A letter from Assumption College sent to Colmont parents on Friday said the school had received 85 applications for immediate enrolment, and 15 to join year seven in 2023.
“At this stage, we have determined to offer interviews to about half of those students, based on the criteria [a] Catholic; [b] family connection to Assumption and [c] live in our local area. Unfortunately we have determined we cannot accommodate everyone who has applied to us,” it read.
The letter says interviews of prospective students and parents will take place early this week, with those offered a space to start Monday, August 8.
Assumption will have an asynchronous learning day on Friday, where most students will learn remotely at home, giving staff the opportunity to plan for the changes in enrolments.
Broadford Secondary College principal Tania Pearson said the school would be open to accepting Colmont families, however spaces were limited.
“We’ve already received some calls about enrolments but we have limited spaces in only a few year levels, so if we can take some of them we will but we are very close to capacity,” she said.
Assumption College and St Patrick’s Primary School both remained open late into the evening on Thursday to allow Colmont families the opportunity to get information about enrolment on short notice.
Our Lady of the Way in Wallan said in a Facebook statement they have received enrolment enquiries on Thursday and Friday but were unable to provide a concrete solution at the time of writing.
“We understand this is a very stressful time for the families and staff,” they said.
“To those families, our response may not be immediate, please understand that we are working tirelessly behind the scenes with [Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools, MACS] to find a solution and offer support.
“As soon as we are able to provide an answer we will share it with those involved and our community.”
MACS executive director Jim Miles said Catholic primary schools in the area, including St Patrick’s, Our Lady of the Way and St Mary’s in Lancefield would be willing to try and offer support if they could.
“Our Catholic schools stand ready to support these children and families wherever possible,” he said.
“This is a challenging and upsetting situation and I encourage families to contact any Catholic school convenient to them to discuss how they might be able to assist.”
Other schools in the mix include Salesian College, Ivanhoe Grammar, Hume Anglican Grammar, Aitken College and Braemar College, while some parents raised the prospect of home schooling for the rest of the year.
Hume Anglican principal Bill Sweeney told The Age the school had fielded many calls from Colmont parents last week but most were looking for a primary school place, for which Hume had no capacity.
By Friday, it had offered places to 12 Colmont secondary students.