Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

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CHURCH AND SCHOOL GO SEPARATE WAYS
(April, 2001, satire expressing disquiet regarding notions of incorporation of the College and commercial sponsorship of educational programs, to members of the College's Executive Leadership Team, and accompanied by 'Wesley User Pays'.)

The Uniting Church stunned the educational establishment today when it announced that it had sold most of Melbourne's 135 year-old Wesley College.

Already Victoria's largest non-Government provider of community services, the UCA plans to use the proceeds to further its work for the disadvantaged.

The Church's unexpected decision followed moves by the College's council to end its constitutional relationship with the UCA. 

The College's traditionalists, however, are applauding the decision because Wesley's famous St Kilda Road site was not part of the deal.

Originally granted to the Wesleyan Methodist Church -- a UCA forerunner -- by the colonial Victorian Government in the 1850s, the real estate cannot be freely sold by the Church.

Early Wesley College

Early Wesley.  Church must honour 1850s land grant conditions.

Instead, the UCA, which owns the land, buildings and services, has leased the enterprise to Owca Pty Ltd, a company specifically formed to keep the College at its original site.

Chairman of the Owca board, Chas Donald, said, "We're delighted! Wesley has wanted independence from the UCA for some time and this means that we now don't have to account to the Church's Synod every year. We have a 20-year contract that gives us plenty of room to move and we are happy about that. 

"The Church is happy too because we're paying top dollar for the lease."

In another surprise move, Donald announced that Owca had sealed a $1,000,000 four-year sponsorship deal with Foxtel.

"That will help our finances", Donald said. "Also, we will be improving our sports services as a result of Foxtel's valuable support. Because Foxtel has exclusive broadcast and online rights to the Olympics, we have agreed to offer only Olympic sports at the school. 

"This will give the students a more global perspective and they'll be keener to watch the Athens Olympics in 2004. Netball, cricket and Australian football will have to go, but the kids can play for their local teams if they want to. Rowing's safe though, I'm glad to say." 

Montefiore Homes for the Aged paid a huge sum for the detached Wesley Preparatory School, located half a kilometre south of the main St Kilda Road site. 

Wesley's long-standing relationship with Melbourne's Jewish community will be maintained by the sale. The highly popular school will attract grandchildren and great grandchildren of the neighbouring Montefiore residents and the youngsters will be able to progress to Wesley's Junior School on St Kilda Road. 

Wesley's innovative Clunes Village, which shares the local UCA congregation's land and buildings, has been leased. Alternative education collective The Road Not Taken Rainbow Trust was the successful tenderer and will market rural residential experiences for students from city-based Australian and international schools. 

The UCA sold Wesley's Glen Waverley Campus to the Eastern Suburbs Education Cooperative, a group of wealthy Wesley parents based in Wheelers Hill. The superbly located High Street Road site will continue as a school, but only for secondary students and under a new name.

Wesley's Elsternwick Campus, known for its excellent music programs, was sold offshore for a reported seven figures to Hungary's Kodaly Institute, whose catchcry, 'Let Music Belong to Everybody', is well known throughout the world.

The RACV successfully bid for the College's campsite just outside Healesville. 

"We intend changing the focus of the site," an RACV source said. "We think there is a market for customised facilities for teachers' conferences rather than camps for kids and we're going to pursue it aggressively."

Another campsite, in western Victoria, has been bought by the local Gunditjmara people and will become a Koorie heritage centre.

The College will continue its role in the Camp Mallana Trust - manager of another school campsite - but provide the facilities to only the new, smaller Wesley College on St Kilda Road.

 


WESLEY USER PAYS

 

Wesley Basic  .......  Readin', writin', 'rithmetic ... $100

 

Wesley Fit  .......  Be educated physically AND play games ... add $80

 

Wesley Plus  .......  Excursions, Camps, Tours ... @ $20 each, or, save!, all for $57.50

 

Wesley Plus Extra  .......  Expand your experience!  Add Clunes ... $70 ... and/or the City Curriculum Project ... $20

 

Wesley Super  .......  all of this, and there's more!  Add Music ($30), Drama ($30), Dance ($20), Visual Arts ($20)

 

Wesley Super Saver  .......  want the lot?!  Save $7.50.  Pay only $420 for all of the above!  We'll even throw in Wesley Heart íní Soul (pastoral care and spirituality), valued at $15 absolutely free!

 

WESLEY EDUCATION HYPERMART TM (formerly Wesley College Melbourne) is committed to the care and flourishing of the whole person ... but only in bits and only if you can afford Wesley Super Saver!

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