End of Term Three: Executive Director’s Message

22 September 2021

Dear colleagues, parents and caregivers, and friends of Catholic education

Term Three is coming to a close, and it has really flown by!

Early in the term, our Leaders’ Forum Roadshow began, running at ten host schools across the state. With principals, school leadership team members, and CEWA office leaders attending these meetings, we officially launched the Quality Catholic Education (QCE) document that previous Leaders’ Forums had helped develop. QCE and its four pillars of Catholic Identity, Education, Community and Stewardship complements our existing Strategic Directions, and will support us to realise our vision of being a community of Christ-centred, child-focused learning environments.

On Friday, the Carnevalé street festival in Perth brought the 2021 Catholic Arts program to a close. From the first liturgy at St Mary’s Cathedral, through the Angelico Art Exhibition, the Performing Arts Festival and the concerts of the Spirit of the Arts Festival and Carnevalé events, approximately 17,000 students were involved in Catholic Arts this year. Catholic Arts is always a highlight of Term Three, giving students the opportunity to share their talent with the world after many hours of practice and development. Having seen the Angelico Exhibition and the Spirit of the Arts Festival concert, I am sure that our current students have much to share with the world through the arts for many years to come. Seeing the outstanding achievement of students in Catholic Arts reminds me that such achievement comes through the efforts of many; I would like to congratulate and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of educators, parents and caregivers who support our students to achieve their best, whether in the arts, academically, in sport, and as upcoming leaders in all sorts of fields. I also acknowledge the work of Catholic Arts Chair, Darryl Winsor, and the Catholic Arts Team, who worked tirelessly to coordinate the program, and were supported this year by the CEWA Marketing and Communications Team. Spirit of the Arts was a huge collaborative effort and was extremely successful.

Catholic schools strive to work collaboratively with families in delivering the best possible education for our students. Each school community is unique, and there are many organic ways that this partnership has developed between school staff and families at each school. Formally, however, the role of Parent and Friends groups is vital to many schools, providing parents with opportunities to contribute to the culture of their schools as environments for learning, faith-formation and building relationships. In Term Three, I attended the Catholic School Parents WA (CSPWA) Conference with a number of CEWA leaders. One of the key focuses during the conference was the new CEWA Wellbeing Strategy Framework, and there was also a panel session featuring students that explored the theme of ‘Respectful Relationships’, a central principle in our Child Safe Framework.

In Term Three nominations flooded in for the Quality Catholic Education Awards, and public voting took place for the People’s Choice Award category. Thanks to all of those who nominated a project or initiative from their school community for the Awards, and thanks to all of those who voted in or shared the People’s Choice poll. The QCE Awards will have winners in the categories of Catholic Identity, Education, Community, Stewardship, People’s Choice, and Faith in the Future, the last of these in recognition of 2021 as the 50th anniversary of the CEWA system and 200th anniversary of Catholic education in Australia. I am looking forward to finding out who this year’s winners are when they are announced early in Term Four.

Webinar Week is now firmly cemented as a highlight in each term, demonstrating our increasing ability to function as a collaborative, interconnected system of educators. In Term Three, 345 participants from schools in each of the four dioceses joined webinars live, with a little more than 50 percent of these joining from outside of the Archdiocese of Perth. In the following week, there were 965 webinar views, and of course each webinar remains online now if you would like to catch up. It is fantastic to see staff members from schools and offices connecting online to share about topics they are passionate subject matter experts on, and to see staff from a range of backgrounds build their capacity to deliver unique professional learning content to peers. The call has gone out for presenters for the Term Four Virtual Conference Day.

During the upcoming holidays, the first Assembly of the Plenary Council will begin. Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, this assembly will be held online. I am excited that we are able to provide a great deal of support for this process from WA; the Leederville CEWA office will be a hub for Plenary Council members from the Archdiocese of Perth, with our Digital Technology Team providing their expertise to help people connect around Australia to this unprecedented Plenary Council format. The Geraldton and Broome CEWA offices will host members from their respective dioceses, and will join in the prayer and liturgical life of the Plenary Council Assembly. I encourage you to take a look at the Plenary Council website where you can find the agenda, a podcast and FAQs.

This time of year is always important for our students in the senior years as they prepare for final assessments and exams. As educators, and as parents or caregivers, it is important to support students to achieve their best in their studies, while also supporting them as they learn to deal with stress in healthy ways, and develop healthy perspectives and priorities. In 2020 the CEWA Psychology Team published this story on helping teens during exam time, it has some practical tips for parents and caregivers, please feel free to read it yourself, or to share it if it may help people you know. The CSPWA website is another valuable resource for parents supporting their children through exam time.

I hope you enjoy the holidays and get some rest and rejuvenation ahead of Term Four. Please reach out to colleagues and friends who you know may not be able to see family and loved ones due to travel restrictions, and continue to keep those affected by the pandemic in your prayers.

As 2021 is the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as patron of the universal Church, I leave you with this reflection from Pope Francis:

How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all. Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.

Dr Debra Sayce
Executive Director
Catholic Education Western Australia

(Cover image – St Joseph’s School, Pemberton)

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