Standing Strong as a Community

Thank you for your patience over the last week as we all adjusted to the Stage 4 restrictions and what that meant for our school, our Learning Hubs and the many families at home facilitating remote learning.

We know many of you are doing it tough; loss of income, frustrating circumstances at home, friends and relatives near and far away being impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

Be assured of our prayers, interest and practical support where we can offer it. In regard to that, let me re-iterate the importance of reaching out if you are experiencing stress in paying school fees. We have already assisted over 50 families with the support they needed to see their kids through the school year, and so we make that invitation to those who may now be experiencing financial pressures. Please let us help you by emailing schoolfees@mecs.vic.edu.au

More generally, can I address the issue of fee relief? MECS has always had a strong Christian response in regard to the way we assist those who may be financially vulnerable. We don’t offer scholarships to ‘smart’ kids, we don’t provide fee discounts to staff members or pastors of churches. We don’t break up our fees into camp costs, and excursion levies.  Our fee assistance program is basically open to all, and based on your need. As your need can change over time, so our fee relief is offered annually and not something locked in for the duration of an enrolment.

Why not a general discount you say? Well, based on the principles above, whilst your circumstances may be challenging, you may not be in additional financial need. You still may be blessed with a secure job and the ability to work remotely. It’s your turn to bless others by the regular paying of your school fees and as a result, enables us to be more generous to those who are currently more vulnerable in our community.

Why not a discount for that camp my child has missed? Similarly, MECS has never structured its fees on a user-pays, educational consumer mentality. One reason behind that is that we want to keep our fees affordable and so many of the experiences your children enjoy are funded by other sources of income (on the whole by government recurrent funding grants). If we were to ‘bill’ you separately for every excursion, incursion, camp and extra resource (as many schools do), you would be surprised by the total! However, more importantly, we see education at MECS as an integrated whole and believe that learning happens in inter-connected ways. Just because our Year 10 students will not be able to visit Yuendumu this year, doesn’t mean we stop praying for that community regularly in our senior school assemblies. It doesn’t mean an empathy and understanding of the plight of our indigenous brothers and sisters is not instilled in other ways. Learning still happens.

Finally, we are pleased to let you know that our entire staff are still working and none of them have been stood down. Whilst a small number of staff have chosen to take a portion of long service leave or unpaid leave for personal reasons, many staff, especially teachers, are working harder than ever and a number of our staff have been re-deployed into other areas. We are grateful that the good stewardship of the schools resources over many years, has enabled us to support our own workforce. Many of our staff have also contributed to a support fund over the last three months, to provide additional support to our families.

So as a Christian community, let us stand strong at this time and support those who are in most need. May we continue to be Christ to each other, in big and small ways, and may our ‘life in community’ point others to the Kingdom of God.