Banyule and Nillumbik Weekly - Victoria, Australia April 5, 2011
No class for excluded Brethren students
BY ALANA SCHETZER
CONTROVERSIAL sect Exclusive Brethren bans members from attending university on campus, despite its students being high academic achievers.
According to the federal government’s My School website, students at the sect-run Glenvale School achieved above average scores across all five areas of the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy tests last year – writing, spelling, reading, numeracy, and grammar and punctuation.
Diamond Valley is home to one of the biggest Brethren communities in Australia.
Despite the high scores, students cannot attend university on-campus as, according to the sect, it would ‘‘…put them in conflict with their church fellowship’’.
Brethren spokesman Bob Lawrence, from PR firm Jackson Wells, told BNW, students who wish to continue their education can only do so via online courses or off-campus ‘‘delivery mechanisms’’.
Fifty per cent of the class of 2010 went on to tertiary education, and the other 50 per cent found jobs.
The school spends $19,965 per student, almost double what the average state school spends. My School revealed more than
$7 million of the school’s $11.7 million annual budget came from private donations.
Despite its private wealth, the school’s Community Socio-Education Advantage index is below the average.
Mr Lawrence said the school relies on a ‘‘high level of support from the community’’.
‘‘That support includes capital infrastructure which in all independent schools is mainly privately funded. Glenvale School has had an increased capital expenditure program to provide necessary education facilities for the students,’’ he said.
Last year, the sect won a controversial VCAT battle with residents to build its Melbourne headquarters, a 2000-seat ‘‘mega-church’’ in Diamond Creek. The sect also operates five smaller churches in the area.
Detractors, including former members, have labelled the religion a cult, saying it controls member’s lives and forbids them from engaging in society.
The school, which has 611 students across 13 campuses in Victoria, teaches grades three to year 12.
The sect also runs six other schools throughout Australia.
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