Seton College in Mt Gravatt East Set to Close, Sparking Concern Among Parents and Students

Seton College, a cornerstone school in Mount Gravatt East for students with disabilities, is scheduled to close at the end of 2024, raising concerns about future educational provisions for its current students.

Established in 1964, Seton College has long been a sanctuary for students needing specialised education due to disabilities. However, a 2020 review initiated by Brisbane Catholic Education led to a decision to close the school, citing better outcomes for students with disabilities in inclusive learning environments. 

Despite starting the year with 224 students, the school’s enrolment dwindled to just 23 students in its final year, all of whom are in Year 12.

Many parents are grappling with mixed feelings as the school year concludes. While one mum is grateful her son could complete his education at Seton, she is saddened by the loss of such a unique educational institution. 

Reflecting on her son’s experiences, the mother highlighted Seton’s transformative impact on him, contrasting it with his challenging times in mainstream schooling. 

Seton College to close
Photo Credit: Seton College/Renae Droop/RDW Photography

Another parent echoed these sentiments, praising the school’s tailored approach, which significantly aided her son’s development into a successful artist and soon-to-be-published author.

The closure has not been without controversy or challenge. Parents and advocates formed the Save Our Seton group, leading efforts to contest the decision. Their initiatives included petitions and protests, aiming to reverse the closure. 

Frustrations were fueled by perceived shortcomings in the school’s final-year offerings, which some parents felt did not meet the educational needs or expectations of Brisbane Catholic Education. As the school prepares to close, the final batch of students will not receive traditional high school certificates due to insufficient credit points resulting from the reduced curriculum in the transition period, adding to the disappointment of parents.

A spokesperson for Brisbane Catholic Education reiterated that the closure is part of a planned five-year transition strategy to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream educational settings.

They assured that the current Year 12 students would experience a customary graduation, and that staff from Seton College would be offered redeployment within the network, aiming to preserve the community and expertise developed over the school’s long history.

Published 2-June-2024

Mt Gravatt Schools Join Statewide Strike Amidst Negotiation Dispute

Preparations for a statewide strike are underway, with educational institutions such as Seton College in Mt Gravatt East and St Bernard’s School in Upper Mt Gravatt joining forces with over 100 other Catholic schools across Queensland. 

The impending strike, driven by concerns over work conditions and compensation, is garnering attention as the Independent Education Union – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEU-QNT) and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) find themselves in a negotiation dispute.

With an estimated 4,000 staff members from these Catholic schools expected to participate, the walkout is scheduled for one hour on 23 Aug 2023. This coordinated effort seeks to address issues surrounding increased workloads, proper recognition for school officers and ancillary staff, and equitable wage increments.

Mt Gravatt St Bernard
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Highlighting that the decision to strike is a last resort after failed negotiations, Terry Burke, the Secretary of IEU-QNT, emphasizes the goal of urging Catholic school employers to reconsider their stance and return to negotiations with comprehensive solutions for employee concerns.

However, a spokesperson from QCEC recently stated that during a Fair Work Commission conference on 15 July 2023, union representatives collectively agreed that formal negotiations had concluded.

Adding complexity to the situation is an upcoming staff vote on the current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) offer. The QCEC spokesperson reveals that employees are eager to accept the presented benefits without delay, leading to plans for an employee vote in early September.

Educators, students, parents, and the broader community are closely watching this significant event, recognising its potential to reshape the education landscape in Queensland.

Published 21-Aug-2023

Advocates Pick Legal Representation To Save Seton College

“It is only a small school but it is making a big difference,” so goes the battle cry of the advocates to save Seton College in Mount Gravatt, following the announcement that they have hired legal representation in the fight to prevent the school’s closure in 2024.

The group, Save Our Seton College (SOS) Inc., has picked the legal team from Elliot & Harvey to help them win this fight. 

It comes as a former staff member, who resigned in 2020, warned that the closure will have a long-term outcome on its remaining students who will have to move to a mainstream school and could likely struggle with the curriculum and the new environment.

The staff said that there’s nothing like Seton in terms of adjusting to the children’s abilities and needs, as assessed by their teachers, especially among those with developmental challenges. For many of these kids, Seton is not just an educational centre but it’s also a home where they can “have a place in society” and never have to fear expulsion from school.

In early 2020, Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) confirmed the closure of Seton College due to the dwindling number of enrollees. But concerned parents and students have challenged this decision by claiming that it is the school that hasn’t accepted new students.

BCE appointed representatives to assist parents and students in the transition. One parent said that a representative told them there are more than 140 schools in Brisbane’s southeast that could be suitable for special needs students from Seton. However, based on their experience, four of the five potential schools approached by BCE representatives turned down their child. 

In the meantime, SOS is holding Zoom meetings regularly to update each other on the progress of their fight to save the school. For more information about the group, follow the Facebook page or visit the official site. 

Seton College
Photo Credit: Instagram

“The impending closure of Seton College by 2024, will leave an enormous gap in the schooling options available to Brisbane families.  There will no longer be a contemporary Catholic, coeducational Secondary College purpose-built for personalised learning on the south side of Brisbane,” the group said. 

Concerned Stakeholders Launch Petition, Pledges to Save Seton College

A group of concerned stakeholders has launched a petition to Save Seton College from permanent closure in Mount Gravatt in 2024. The petition has received over 6,500 signatures whilst pledges to help reverse the proposal have reached more than 1,000. 

Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) announced late this year that Seton College will cease accepting new enrollees in 2021, claiming that enrolments have been dwindling in recent years. 

The stakeholders are challenging BCE’s claims after learning that the school actually turned away 60 students in 2020. In 2019, the school apparently sent emails to parents that it reached maximum capacity “with a waiting list already in place.”

“It appears that BCE is orchestrating the decline in enrolments by enrolling less than 25% of applicants for year seven 2020, and, furthermore, stopping ALL and ANY future enrolments, regardless of year level,” the stakeholders said in a statement. “It appears BCE are winding things up much quicker than originally anticipated, with an exodus of teaching and support staff and the shocking redundancy of the school’s IT manager, who was recently applauded for his work in developing an effective online classroom platform during the COVID shutdown.”

The group has been holding Save Our Seton (SOS) meetings on the Zoom platform. The first meeting for next year is scheduled for 17 Jan 2021.

Seton College is a typical co-educational Secondary College that offers personalised learning. It’s described as “the school that fills the gap between mainstream schools and special schools” for including individual student support, pastoral care and personality development that aren’t found in a mainstream school’s curriculum. 

“Seton College is the most welcoming, helping, accepting and the best school I’ve ever been to,” a former student, Tayhlia Shaw, said when she launched the petition. “Education is taught in many different fun ways to help students not only enjoy their classes but take in more from what they are learning about.” 

For updates on the activities of the SOS, follow their Facebook page or become a member on their official site

Community Attempts to Save Seton College from Closing

Special needs school Seton College will be shutting down for good by 2024, after 60 years of operation, but the community is attempting to save the school from closing. 

Parents of Seton College’s over-200 student body have formed the Save Seton College committee to fight Brisbane Catholic Education’s (BCE) plans. Mom Kylie Jensen said that they want the school to remain open because Seton College provides a “real sense of community” compared to other schools, where kids with learning difficulty have a hard time coping because of the student to teacher ratio.   

A student started an online petition as well, which has received more than 3,000 signatures as of press time. 

“Seton College is the most welcoming, helping, accepting and the best school I’ve ever been to. Education is taught in many different fun ways to help students not only enjoy their classes but take in more from what they are learning about,” Tayhlia Shaw wrote.

 “My time at Seton College has been the best I could have ever imagine,” she added. “It has taught me resilience, understanding my emotions, understanding people, how to keep happy friendships, what to do in certain situations and most importantly it has taught me to treat others kindly and with respect.” 

Speech and Language Development Australia (SALDA) is reportedly interested in stepping up and taking over Seton College. Chairman Peter Seldon said that they are studying the expansion. 

SALDA has a holistic approach to education and therapy. They operate The Glenleighden School in Fig Tree Pocket.

Photo Credit: StockSnap/Pixabay

Meanwhile, BCE said that it will remain committed to provide the highest standard of learning to students who will be staying on.

“Families can expect a personalised approach which addresses the specific needs of their son or daughter. We are planning for Seton College to remain fully operational until the end of 2024,” a spokesperson for the BCE said.