In late 2012 the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education (BCCE) set up a panel to review the terms of reference and the statutes of the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC).
During the first six months of 2012, the Review Panel (Dr Peter Tannock (Chair), Sr Beth Calthorpe RSM, Ms Loretta Richardson and Mr David Hutton) received eighteen written submissions and interviewed over twenty different groups and individuals from every state and territory. Their report was sent to BCCE in early July 2012.
BCCE met on several occasions during the period August to October to finalise its response to the Review Panel’s report.
The Chairman of BCCE, Bishop Gregory O’Kelly SJ, recently announced that the Bishops Conference had accepted the BCCE recommendations on the restructuring of NCEC, to be in place by 1 July 2013.
“The essential recommendations regarding NCEC into the future are as follows”, Bishop O’Kelly said.
- “The size of NCEC will be reduced to a total of sixteen members, including an Executive Director.
- “The Executive Director will be the spokesperson for NCEC and responsible for negotiations with Government and other national bodies. BCCE recommended this position as it is in line with the leadership model that operates in State Commissions.
- “The Chair of NCEC will be responsible for ensuring the appropriate implementation by the Commission of the NCEC Terms of Reference.
- “The six NCEC work priorities are largely as the Review Panel suggested. We have, of course, maintained a strong emphasis on Religious Education and Faith Formation, and also on ensuring that the mission of Catholic schools is more widely appreciated and supported in the community.
- “The capacity of the NCEC Secretariat will be enhanced, including the creation of a 0.5 EFT executive position to provide leadership in the area of religious education and faith formation. This person will attend NCEC meetings.
- “NCEC will be reviewed every seven years to ensure that it is properly constituted and resourced for the work required.”
“Conference agreed that the principal focus for NCEC should be the work of Catholic schools”, said Bishop O’Kelly.
“Conference also agreed, however, with the BCCE suggestion that active links be maintained with the leaders of diocesan programs for Catholic students not in Catholic schools, and also with Catholic universities and theologates with university affiliation”, he said.
“BCCE will establish an interim NCEC to operate to end June 2013”, said Bishop O’Kelly. “Therese Temby and Bill Griffiths will continue in the interim as Chair and Chief Executive Officer respectively.”
“The first steps towards finding an Executive Director and a Chair for the restructured NCEC have already been taken”, he said.
Bishop O’Kelly expressed the thanks of BCCE to the Review Panel and to all who had contributed to the Review by way of submission and discussion.
“The Bishops believe that this review and realignment of the work of NCEC has been a valuable exercise,” he said, “and will be of benefit to Catholic school authorities throughout the country as we continue to work through challenging economic, political and education policy times.”