Researchers in Catholic Schools and Access to Data

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Researchers in Catholic Schools and Access to Data on Catholic Schools 


This page provides information for individuals or organisations who are seeking:

  1. access to Catholic schools for the purpose of undertaking research, or
  2. access to data related to Catholic schools held by Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS).
It is expected that when researchers conduct research in Melbourne Catholic schools, they do so on the basis that the findings may assist to improve student outcomes and school effectiveness. Research in areas beyond the immediate concerns of schools should be conducted only when it can be demonstrated that the findings may have a potential benefit for the participants themselves.

The data held by MACS are collected from Catholic schools for accountability requirements of governments and for the purpose of providing leadership and support services to schools. Individuals and organisations seeking access to these data collections will need to demonstrate that release of the data will have potential benefit for students in Catholic schools.

A. Seeking access to Melbourne Catholic schools for the purpose of research

MACS values high quality and ethical research in Catholic school communities that:

  • supports and improves student learning, wellbeing and engagement
  • strengthens school leader, teacher and parent capability to support children and young peoples’ learning and development
  • encourages jurisdictions, government and community partners to reflect on and enhance their capability to better serve and lead schools
  • seeks to engage schools as important and respected stakeholders in educational research
  • contributes to the knowledge and capacity of the broader community to enhance the outcomes of children and young people, locally and globally.
Research that requires MACS approval  Image of stationery

Applications to conduct research in Melbourne Catholic schools are required from:

  1. all non-school based researchers
  2. school-based researchers conducting research as part of a PhD or professional doctorate
  3. all researchers wishing to conduct research that is deemed potentially sensitive (according to MACS Requirements for Seeking Approval and Conducting Research).

MACS approval is not an endorsement of the research, but an indication to schools that the project is ethically sound and meets MACS requirements. Researchers with MACS approval can approach Melbourne Catholic schools, but it is the principal’s decision as to whether they agree for their school to participate in the research in any capacity.

Research that does NOT require MACS approval 

MACS approval is not required from:

  1. school staff undertaking research in their own school for the purposes of ongoing learning, reflection and improvement, and with no intention to publish the findings in the public domain
  2. student researchers wishing to conduct research as part of undergraduate study or postgraduate study at diploma, honours or masters level IF the research meets all criteria outlined in section 3.2 in MACS Requirements for Seeking Approval and Conducting Research. Student researchers who meet all of the criteria can seek approval directly from the school principal, however principals have the right to request the student seeks MACS approval if they wish.
Process for submitting an application to conduct research in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne:
  1. Researchers must first become familiar with Appendix 1: MACS Requirements for Seeking Approval and Conducting Research.
  2. Researchers can also use Appendix 2: Researcher Checklist for Preparing an Application as a quick reference guide to MACS requirements and expectations.
  3. Researchers need to register as a user of MACS' online Research Register then complete and submit an online application.
  4. A PDF copy of the online application form is available for planning purposes only.
  5. Appendix 3: Research Register User Guide for Researchers provides step-by-step instructions for using the online Research Register.
  6. Appendix 4: Applying to Conduct Research in Schools – Frequently Asked Questions.

For research involving schools across multiple states and territories in Australia, MACS will accept the National Application Form found on the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) website. The form and relevant documentation can be emailed to

For research involving schools in Victoria only, including Melbourne Catholic schools, an online application needs to be submitted following the process outlined above.

For research that does not directly involve schools, but still requires the engagement of MACS in some capacity, please email the request to Ensure the request includes the purpose of the research, methodology, participants and any resources or services required from MACS.

For general enquires related to research, please contact the Policy, Strategy and Performance team on 03 9267 0228 or

B. Seeking access to data related to Catholic schools held by Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools

Requests for access to data held by Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) must be made by email and should specify what data are being sought and for what purpose.

When considering requests for access to data, MACS will comply with confidentiality and privacy requirements and take into account other areas of sensitivity related to Catholic schools, MACS, and the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV).

Generally, access to data is provided to:

  • government departments and Catholic agencies for the purpose of accountability and provision of services
  • Catholic schools to assist in their planning and reporting activities
  • people engaged directly in education
  • people undertaking research in education or other areas of community benefit
  • non-profit organisations involved in activities likely to provide a benefit to schools and the wider community.

MACS will not normally provide data to commercial or marketing organisations, including those offering educational services.

In cases where the data are already publicly available, the person making the request will be referred to that location. If some or all of the requested data are not available, or where access is denied, the person making the request will be informed. Data are provided by MACS on the condition that it is used only for the purposes stated in the request for access.

All requests for access to data held by MACS must be made in writing to the Executive Director by email:

post:  Executive Director
Attention: Policy, Strategy and Performance Unit
Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS)
PO Box 3