FAQ's

Partnership

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Why such a strong emphasis on parents?
Christian parents understand that their children are gift from a generous and creative loving heavenly Father. They seek to bring up their children to know and love this loving Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures clearly teach that the chief responsibility for the nurture and guidance of children belongs to their parents. Because the education of children has such a significant shaping role, parental responsibility must play a part in that education. This responsibility cannot be hand-balled to governments, businesses, or even churches for that matter. It belongs primarily with parents. That doesn’t mean parents won’t partner with others who can help them, but it does mean parents set the direction and stay involved. This is why MECS emphasises the vital role parents play. The school’s job is to empower parents in their God-given responsibility.




Why is MECS a parent-governed Christian school?
We are a parent governed Christian school because, in the first place, schools ought to be accountable to the parent community they serve, rather than either to the government or to the church. It is to parents that God has given the responsibility of nurturing their children. In response to this, our parents have the vision of Christian education and set the direction for the school. As a result, they are the primary place of accountability for the school management. By contrast, the primary purpose of both governments and churches is not the education of our children, though they may have limited and particular responsibilities to support such education.




Who owns the school?
A not-for-profit association of Christian parents, teachers and past parents owns and maintains MECS. The official name of the owning association is the ‘Association for Christian Education of Mount Evelyn Inc.’
The Association elects Board members who, acting on behalf of the Association, govern the school. That means the Board determines policy and broad direction and gives oversight to the Executive (the Principal and other key leaders appointed directly by the Board). The Executive needs to achieve the aims and objectives of the Association for the school. The Executive manages the school. Because the Board is a governing Board, it does not get involved in the day-to-day running of the school.




Can you tell me about Association membership?
Those who embrace the vision of the school and subscribe to the Educational Creed may become members of the Association. We encourage all Christian parents to consider becoming members and thereby participate more fully in school life and governance. Embracing this level of commitment to MECS is vital for the long-term well-being of our educational community. All the information you need to become an Association member can be obtained from the school office. Please ask for the brochure called ‘Becoming an Association Member’ or check out the association section on our website.
Because partnership is vital to us, parents who are not members are still very welcome and warmly encouraged to get involved in the life of the community. Opportunities for parental participation are numerous.




What are the opportunities for involvement by parents?
We love it when parents are looking for ways to get involved. There are three key ways to be involved. First, it’s the attitude you bring, second it’s assisting your child, and third it’s contributing practically.
First and foremost is the attitude that parents bring along. Are you open to building a strong relationship? Are you actively interested in your child’s educational program? You’ll be able to tell by whether you know what’s happening in your child’s schooling. This involves healthy communication between home and school: reading the material that comes home… getting on the phone when there are a few issues… dropping notes … helping your child use their school diary, and so on.
The second big aspect is assisting your child as a learner. Are you aware of their educational issues and are you working in partnership with their teacher to help make their schooling as successful as possible? Can you assist and guide (not do their work for them)? Do they need extra support? Does your child’s teacher understand their educational issues? Parents are the key to addressing these things.
The third area relates to contributing practically. MECS has a long and rich history of sacrificial service by parents. Parents can assist in classes, supervise exams, help with camps and excursions, care for our beautiful facilities through working bees or other volunteer practical help, join the association, serve on the governing Board, participate in the Parents & Friends group (fund-raising and community activities), join the canteen roster, pay fees on time, attend concerts and events involving your child, read newsletters, and of course interact with teachers.




Why are parents obliged to pay school fees?
School fees are a necessary part of running an independent school. This is because the combined financial support of state and federal governments contributes approximately 60% of the cost of running the school. The other 40% comes from school fees that parents and guardians must pay. In the enrolment process, we formalise this understanding through a partnership agreement. It’s just to make sure that everyone is clear about these costs.
Each year the school fee rates for the following year are advertised in Term 4. Increases are usually in keeping with Educational CPI increases. Parents need to financially plan, being aware of the obligations, before deciding upon enrolment. Please check the web for the latest information (www.mecs.vic.edu.au).




When should school fees be paid and are there any discounts?
Fees are billed at the start of each term. They are due and payable within three weeks of the start of term. If you prefer, you can make Direct Debit arrangements to pay Fortnightly or Monthly from February to November (ten months).
We have two types of fee discounts available to parents. First, we offer discounts for those who choose to pay annually (in February) or bi-annually (in February and July). The annual payment attracts a 5% discount, and bi-annual payments attract a 3% discount. Parents who choose either of these two options assist the school’s cash flow.
The other type of discount is much more significant and focuses on affordability and whole family partnership. It relates to the number of children a family has at MECS. Under this scheme, the first child of a family attracts a full school fee, the second child’s fee is much lower, and the third child’s fee is even lower again. We have also set a maximum school fee ceiling per family.
For more details, please call the school, email Click here to email about school fees , or check the website fees page.




What is the Family Bond Payment?
The Family Bond is a common arrangement with schools where parents pay fees. It provides the school with an indication of the seriousness of the family’s commitment to partnering with the school. Families who are new to MECS are required to pay a one-off Family Bond of $500.00 as per the Partnership Agreement. This Bond is usually payable before the commencement of tuition, though other payment arrangements can be made. Many schools retain such bonds when the family leaves. MECS however, refunds the Family Bond to families who have students at the school for three or more years.




Please explain the part of your mission statement that says “at a price affordable to those who are committed”.
A quick comparison with other independent schools in Melbourne’s Outer East and the Yarra Valley will show that MECS’ fees are at the low end of independent education. MECS has always sought to set fee rates as low as is possible. Of course, if they were too low we would not be able to function. Some of our guidelines for fee setting include budgeting to support the effective running of the school, achieving a small surplus budget to pay for infrastructure, and paying teacher’s wages in reasonable parity to state colleagues.
We recognise that for many people living in the MECS socio-economic demographic area, paying school fees will involve considerable sacrifice. Paying school fees reflects one’s priorities. All parents choose what they will spend their money on and when they put Christian schooling high on their priority list it will mean spending less on other things. We applaud that choice.
Enrolling children in a Christian school is a big step of faith for most families. We’d encourage parents to plan well and trust God in their financial consideration. Repeatedly we have seen that parents who have taken the risk to invest in their children’s education find that God has blessed their financial circumstances.
As a part of its ‘affordability’ goal and desire to bear one another’s burdens, the school does support a proportion of parents who otherwise would not be able to participate in the MECS community. These are not scholarships for smart children, but rather fee assistance for the most needy. Typically, this is not available when starting out with MECS. Arrangements here are within Board guidelines. They involve a confidential financial questionnaire and an interview with the Finance Manager.




What if I can’t pay my fees?
There are times when it might be difficult to make school fee payments. Legitimate reasons include loss of job, health problems, or perhaps some other financial stress. Should this be the case, we need to hear from you promptly, as MECS can only help when we know your situation. We are very compassionate in our dealings with all parents, but we must remember the commitment to those parents who, through sacrifice, do pay. MECS does not feel that they should be asked to pay extra because of the lack of commitment on the part of others. If there is a debt without alternate repayment arrangements having been made, then normal business collection procedures will be followed.




What are the school’s criteria for enrolment eligibility?
The school uses the following criteria when weighing up enrolment applications:
Parent’s Faith – The Board has determined that the Christian character of the school program is best served by ensuring that a significant majority of parents personally have a living Christian faith. Even so, parents who do not share our faith can still enrol their children into the school providing they understand that the policies and programs of the school are shaped by our faith.
Partnership – The school is very interested in a long-term partnership relationship with parents who understand MECS. We have a desire for all children in a family to be involved in our educational community. This facilitates a fuller and deeper partnership between school and home. We call this whole family partnership. The character of the partnership relationship is explained in other parts of this booklet. The expectations for parents and the school are explained in the Partnership Agreement (see second section of this booklet for a copy).
Understanding of Christian Education – MECS has developed its particular approach to Christian education based on some core beliefs. These are expressed in the Vision, Mission, Our Six Pillars, Our Belief statements, and our Educational Creed. In a variety of ways, families can show that they have been oriented towards, and can commit to, our form of Christian Education.
Numbers in classes – Each year level, home class and mix of multi-age clusters, has specific ‘class size’ limits. Once a class is full, a ‘waiting list’ commences. When a space becomes available, we notify the next eligible applicant.
Full Disclosure – We expect parents to make full disclosure of known issues that are relevant to a child’s education. Where there are additional education needs, we expect parents to make us aware of the investigations and processes have taken place, and request copies of all reports. Additional needs are not a basis for exclusion, but a lack of disclosure is.
Timing – Applications are processed as they come in. Ordinarily, it takes approximately two weeks to process an enrolment application. Long-term enrolments are processed in the last term of the second preceding year (i.e. 1 ¼ years ahead).
Mid-year and Post Year 9 Enrolments – Mid-year enrolments (excluding interstate/ overseas movement) are more stringently assessed. Parents are advised that the start of Term 1 and Term 3 are preferred commencement times. Except for VCAL entry, the school does not encourage Post Year 9 enrolments. Of course, we are willing to consider any ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ argument that parents might make.




You say ‘one fee pays all’. Are you sure?
Yes! MECS uses a fee collection system where the school fee is an all-inclusive figure. It really does cover all tuition expenses. This includes camps, excursions and a vast range of incidentals charged as extras by other schools. We do this to be ‘up front’, transparent and parent-friendly and to avoid multiple levels of money management (we don’t want a teacher collecting small amounts for some incidental program that wasn’t anticipated). Good planning allows for this. In the very rare cases where an extra charge appears on a fee bill, it will be because of a student choice, e.g. a Year 11 Vocational course.
The three areas of cost for parents to consider apart from school fees are:
School wear (required or optional school clothing). Provision of school wear is operated by the Parents & Friends group. Costs are separate from school fees.
Stationery can be a significant annual expense. The Parent & Friends group run a stationery order system at the start of each year. This is a fundraiser and a handy, but mostly optional, way for parents to acquire the stationery required. Some parents choose to purchase their stationery apart from this system.
Textbooks – usually there are a few textbooks, though senior school students may need quite a number. More often than not, there is a second-hand option available.




Why do you have a Partnership Agreement?
The Partnership Agreement is a summary of the relationship between parents and the school and it outlines the specific expectations the school has of parents. Because relationship is not a ‘one way street’, the Partnership Agreement also outlines what parents can expect of the school. After parents have carefully read and signed off on the Agreement, the Principal signs on behalf of the school. The signing part is called a Declaration and parents are given a copy for their records.




Why do you want all of our school-aged children to attend MECS?
MECS wants a partnership with the whole family. That means we believe it’s not good for a family to single out our school as being good for just one particular child. Frequently it happens that an inquiring parent wants to place just one of their children at MECS because of a particular program or because of good pastoral or specialist care; or because it hasn’t worked out well where they’ve been. The poor experience their child has had may be a result of a very narrow educational focus at their previous school. This form of ‘niched’ enrolment has many weaknesses that we want to avoid. The MECS student community needs to be a balanced one with students who have a broad range of gifts. This is our aim because that is the reality of God’s world; it’s a diverse place and not one where ‘one type will fit all’.
Therefore, whilst we welcome all inquiries, we are foremost interested in seeking relationships with parents who are committed to the MECS form of Christian education.




How do you teach Bible?
The Bible is God’s unfolding story of his interaction with his people and the world long ago. That story has meaning for us now. We interact in three main ways with the Bible. First, it is an object of study. Second, it is a guide for our life, thought and learning. Third, it is a means by which we listen to God in our relationship with him.
As an object of study, our students need to know what is in the Bible. They need to know what sort of literature it is and how to read it correctly. In this first purpose, we teach the Bible with faithfulness to its content and trustworthiness.
With the Bible as a guide for thought and learning, we work toward having our curriculum permeated with Biblical ideas. Our teachers spend time together thinking about what it means to teach a particular area of learning from a Christian perspective. We don’t see the Bible as a textbook for the sciences or other areas of academic or non-academic areas of knowledge or learning. It is important to us that we do not use the Bible to extract nice poetic phrases, moral titbits, or verses taken out of context. We don’t simply tack-on a few Bible verses to our lessons. Rather, like a torch, the Bible shines on our path. It aids us as we are going, it reveals holes, cliffs and dangers, and it helps uncover the wonders of creation and God’s grace in the world. As we depend on the Holy Spirit, the Bible provides us with the wisdom we need to respond to life.
Listening to the Bible plays an important part in our relationship with God. Devotion times involve listening to the Bible for this purpose. Students and teachers alike read and listen together to the Word of God as it speaks to us individually and communally. Here we just want to listen to and prayerfully reflect on what God is saying to us through his Spirit in his Word. In this purpose, we are not so much teaching Bible as letting the Bible teach us. We don’t do this as if the devotion sanctifies the rest of the day, or that this is the token religious part of the day. We do it because we want to be keen listeners of God’s word.




Do we have to go to church to apply for enrolment?
We have an open enrolment policy. This means we enrol students from families who do not go to church or express the Christian faith. If that is you, you are welcome to apply for enrolment provided you can support the ethos of the school. To understand that ethos please make sure you read the brochure called ‘Focus On MECS’, and the key parts of this Focus on Identity booklet that explain our approach to education.
Even so, we want to ensure that a Christian culture is dominant in the life of the school because the school is here to support parents by providing Christian schooling for their children in harmony with their faith and home practices. Therefore, we can only provide a proportion of places for children from non-Christian families. If your family does not adhere to the Christian faith, you should be ready to discuss this during the enrolment process.




I don’t share your Christian faith, but I want my child to have solid values. Will you provide this?
Our Christian beliefs and values permeate all that we do—in the classroom, in the playground, on the sporting field, on camps, and on excursions. We encourage students to live out these values and beliefs. As students mature, we seek to encourage the development of belief and personal values in a way that respects their personal responsibility. Many Christian values are common in our society because it has been somewhat shaped by them. So all students, whether or not they embrace the Christian faith as their own, will benefit from being exposed to these values and seeing the way they can enrich their lives.




What if my child is not a Christian?
Families who do not express the Christian faith should know that the school will teach and approach its schooling out of a Christian view of life. Four key concepts are important here: Confidence, Openness, Awareness of Perspective, and Individual choice.
Confidence: The school and its teachers will speak confidently out of a Christian framework of understanding, i.e. God is creator and sustainer of life; God gave us the gift of life and calls us to respond in service to his provision; life is messed up because of sin and there’s a need for a Saviour to rescue us and the world. This confidence shapes and influences our whole approach while at the same time being respectful of openness and individual choice.
Openness: A healthy education needs exposure to, and some understanding of, all the major religions, including the main Australian one, namely secular humanism (a philosophy that rejects the spiritual as a basis for moral reflection and decision-making). Many Australians think of themselves as secular (without religion), though at MECS we say that that is impossible for everyone has a faith in something; everyone serves some form of god.
Awareness of Perspective: It is important that all students acknowledge that deep beneath their ideas, values and outlook on life are answers to the key religious questions of life. At MECS, we seek to help all students see what set of ‘glasses’ they have on. It is critical to not only acknowledge the set of glasses but also be able to describe how they shape your vision. We call this view of the world a worldview. To help us understand ‘world view’ we ask four Worldview questions: Who Am I? Where am I? What’s the problem? What’s the remedy? The answers to these four questions, when applied to any person or group or culture, will reveal the worldview and the deeper religious roots that guide it.
Individual Choice: There is a deep respect for each individual student’s need to make their own faith choices. Christianity is not enforced as the one right option. Students are not bible-bashed. Favouritism isn’t given to Christian kids. Correct ‘Christian’ information doesn’t get the best test marks. Students are not subjected to untoward pressure to give ‘Christian’ responses. Each individual has the responsibility to work out their own faith. This is as true for students from Christian homes as for those where that isn’t the faith expressed. We strongly believe that all students have a religious outlook on life and it is best if they can acknowledge that for themselves.




How much religion or ‘God talk’ happens during the average week?
We believe that all of life is connected to the God who creates, sustains and redeems it. Thus, God permeates our thinking, teaching and learning, like yeast in bread. Yet this doesn’t mean we’re always talking about God or using ‘religious language.’ Rather, it means that our Christian worldview functions like glasses through which we view life and the world. Like glasses, our Christian worldview provides clarity and focus. People who wear glasses don’t keep taking them off all the time to inspect or clean them. In the same way, we don’t talk all the time about our Christian worldview ‘glasses’.
However, there are times when we do need to clean or even ‘regrind’ our worldview ‘glasses’. From time to time, we need to concentrate on clarifying and checking whether our Christian approach to a particular area is directed by the Bible. We need to see whether the Scriptures are genuinely shaping our worldview beliefs. We also need to acknowledge the author of life and knowledge and the only one who can save us and our works—Jesus Christ. This means those times of Bible reading, prayer and reflection have a significant place in the life of our school.




Do you have chapel services or devotions? Is that the ‘Christian’ part?
While we have devotion times each day, and times of listening to God’s word and of prayer when we gather (e.g., in assemblies), we do not have a ‘special’ place for doing this. We believe that such devotional times, while important, can occur anywhere. Indeed, the most natural place for them to occur is in the classrooms where students most frequently learn together. So while these devotional times are an important feature of our school, they are not the thing that makes MECS ‘Christian’.
We don’t split life into ‘sacred’ parts and ‘secular’ parts. We firmly believe that this sort of division is contrary to the biblical message and the meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secular humanism (a philosophy that excludes the spiritual) is very happy to make this division in order to isolate some areas of life from the influence of ‘religion’. They are happy for people to practice their faith and follow their beliefs in the privacy of their homes or churches, but they don’t want Christian (or any other) faith to spread its influence into the so-called public areas of life such as education, science, politics, business, sport, entertainment, etc. We believe that it’s fundamental to the message of the gospel that Jesus Christ is Lord of all areas of life, public and private, sacred and secular.




I just want my child to get a good education and to be happy, is that okay?
A good education and happiness are not bad things to aspire for, as long as we don’t think they are a commodity we can buy. Unfortunately, our culture is quietly influencing parents to become consumers in an enterprise where a child’s education is a commodity that can be purchased. We know that it is not and we are convinced that by discovering that education is about partnership and perspective, you will be able to play a real part in your child’s good and happy education.