Executive Director’s message – welcome back for Term Three
28 July 2021
Dear colleagues, friends and supporters of Catholic education, and members of our Catholic school communities,
Welcome back to Term Three. I trust that the school holidays provided a much-needed break and a time to connect with family and friends. For many in our Catholic education community, travel restrictions continue to prevent visits with family, friends and loved ones who are interstate and overseas, which might often be a highlight of the holidays. As we are a community of faith as well as learning, I encourage you to keep those separated from family and friends, and all of those affected by COVID-19 across Australia and the world in your prayers.
Working in education is a wonderful vocation, but it can be demanding and busy. The task of supporting children and young people with the best possible opportunities to learn and develop is vitally important, and so we are constantly trying to further our expertise and knowledge and improve our practice. In Catholic education it is crucial that we not only teach our students to become lifelong learners, but that we have a culture of learning for all.
Coming up in Term Three is one of our key initiatives, centred on our continued improvement as the state’s second largest education system. In the early weeks of term, the Leaders’ Forum Roadshow will be held in ten different locations across the state, bringing together principals, school leadership team members, and CEWA office leaders. This series of meetings is part of the ongoing conversation that is Leaders’Forum, where leaders in our school community have the opportunity to be involved in the development of strategies, policies and frameworks that guide the direction of Catholic education in WA. I am excited that, as part of the roadshow meetings this term, we will be officially launching the Quality Catholic Education (QCE) framework. QCE will fit in with our existing Strategic Directions, and promises to have a great impact on system and school improvement.
Two more highlights of Term Three that I would like to remind you of as school goes back are the Quality Catholic Education Awards, and the Spirit of the Arts Festival. The QCE Awards are open for nominations now, and I can’t wait to see what wonderful initiatives are showcased in the Awards this year.
Registrations to participate in the new Spirit of the Arts Festival are also open now. Spirit of the Arts will bring together the Performing Arts Festival’s final concert, the Catholic Education Carnevale showcase, and highlights from the Angelico Art Exhibition in the Perth CBD between 13 and 17 September. It will also see the final concert held at RAC Arena for the first time. It is going to be a fantastic festival, so I encourage you to register, or to put the dates in your calendar now to support our students who are participating.
In week seven of term CEWA Webinar Week will be back and open to all staff members across the system, as well as guests from outside the system who are invited to benefit from the knowledge and expertise shared by our staff members. CEWA’s digital transformation drive has now been underway for a number of years. While the use of tools like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and Claned may seem like old news for those of us who utilise them on a daily basis, when I consider what has been achieved in a relatively short time frame, I am amazed at how far we have come. Groups of students coming together across geographic distances as part of theVirtual Schools Network, lessons, liturgies, school performances and exhibitions moved online during lockdown, and the thousands of staff members who are part of professional learning groups enabled by our online platform are testament to the importance of embracing digital technologies to support teaching, learning and faith formation.
At the end of this month, 30 July, is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. According to the Global Slavery Index, there are over 40 million people world-wide in some form of slavery-like conditions, 15,000 of those in Australia. Our schools activelyincorporate social and ecological justice issues into learning through a Catholic Social Teaching lens, but we have recently gone to greater lengths to examine how our own purchasing and supply chains as an education system and organisation impact modern slavery and human rights. Last year, CEWA’s first Modern Slavery Statementwas prepared for the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Home Affairs, as part of a compendium of statements by the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network (ACAN). You can find the CEWA 2019-2020 Modern Slavery Statement here.
After the first two stages of ‘Listening and Dialogue’ and ‘Listening and Discernment’, as well as delays due to COVID-19, the first Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia is set to take place in October. CEWA school and office communities have been involved in the process since it began in 2018, and both school and office staff members have the honour and responsibility of sitting on the Plenary Council as members. This is a profoundly exciting time for all in the Catholic community, and I encourage you to follow the Plenary Council process as it continues this term, and to contribute through prayer individually and in your school community. You can findresources for schools, groups and individuals to use for prayer via the Fan the Flame webpage.
Throughout this year we have been celebrating 50 Years Together as a CEWA system, as well as the 200th anniversary of Catholic education in Australia. As part of the 200-year celebrations, the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) and Catholic schools across Australia will be celebrating Family Week from 8-14 August, in recognition of our partnership with parents and caregivers as the first educators of their children, and the contribution of families to Catholic schools. Family Week coincides with the Feast Day of St Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first saint, passionate educator and an advocator for children and families. I would like to leave you with the Prayer for Families below, and invite you to pray it throughout this term and particularly during Family Week.
All the best for Term Three!
Dr Debra Sayce
Catholic Education Western Australia
(Cover image – Dr Debra Sayce, CEWA Executive Director (right), Jacinta Collins, National Catholic Education Commission Executive Director (centre) and CEWA students at Aranmore Catholic College for the Archbishop’s LifeLink Day Forum on 20 May, 2021)