Race to get new schools ready for term one down to the wire
29th January 2023

On the fringes of Greenvale, where some roads are not yet paved, stands a school so new it isn’t officially a school yet.

The race to open Mary Queen of Heaven Primary School in time for the start of the first term of 2023 has been so close that the school has not yet been registered with the state government’s schools regulator.

Mary Queen of Heaven Primary School principal Renae Gentile (centre), deputy principal Daniela De Luca and students Adam, 9, Amelia, 10, and Livinia, 6.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Building delays, material shortages and even Melbourne’s sodden winter and spring conspired to push the new school’s opening back to Monday, February 6, a week later than the designated start date of term one, principal Renae Gentile said.

When it does open, the school will welcome 109 new students from the multicultural communities of Melbourne’s outer north.

“We have a beautiful spread of diversity as far as our cultures go: we’ve got Nepalese children, Sri Lankan, Indian, some African families, some third-generation Italian and Greek and, of course, Australian families,” Gentile said.

And though Mary Queen of Heaven is a Catholic school, its inaugural cohort also includes children of the Sikh, Hindu and Islamic faiths.

Mary Queen of Heaven is one of 15 new schools – and the only non-government school – that will open in 2023.

All but two of the group will open in growth suburbs on the suburban fringe, including four new primary schools in Wyndham, two in Whittlesea, and one each in Melton, Cranbourne and Officer; new secondary schools in Mickleham and Wollert; and a specialist school in Craigieburn.

Far from Greenvale but in a suburb experiencing its own population boom, a new state school, the Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES), will open in South Yarra this year.

The Chapel Street school is for high-achieving senior students, who will be getting a head start on university by taking first-year university subjects while in secondary school.

The Centre for Higher Education Studies, a new school for high-achieving students, will open in South Yarra.Credit:Tom Ross

It is the only school of its type in Australia.

The successfully completed studies will serve as credits to enrol in courses at universities such as Monash, RMIT, Federation and Swinburne.

Principal Stewart Milner said the centre would provide a tertiary-like environment, combined with the support and safety net that senior secondary students need.

“In addition to a physical and virtual learning environment, CHES students will access mentoring and supports to help with the transition to tertiary study,” Milner said.

“We know that strong, supporting relationships are incredibly important to young people, and these relationships often underpin student academic success.”

A second campus will also open for North Melbourne Primary School, one of inner Melbourne’s largest primary schools, which had about 800 students last year.

Meanwhile, damage from last year’s record-breaking floods will affect the beginning of the school year in the alpine community of Falls Creek, where students will divide their time between Falls Creek Primary and Mount Beauty Primary, due to a slow-moving landslide on the road between the two towns.

Portable buildings have also arrived for two schools in Rochester and one in Darraweit Guim while their flood-damaged buildings are restored. All flood-affected schools will return to on-site learning from this week.

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