- Welcome to Parent Talk
- National Palliative Care Week
- Collaborating with Dioceses on Parent Engagement
- Entries open for the 2021 Roger O'Sullivan Memorial Award
- Parent Engagement through music
- Helping your child think differently about maths
- Australian vs NSW Curriculum - are they different?
- Your opportunity to provide feedback into the review of the Australian Curriculum
- NSW Syllabus Review
- Vinnies NSW Family Winter Sleepout @Home
- Australian Catholic Super
Greetings and welcome to the third edition of CCSP’s Parent Talk for 2021. I hope all mothers, grandmothers, aunts and significant female carers had a wonderful Mother’s Day earlier this month.
Since the last edition, much has been happening. In March, CCSP hosted two online safety webinars with the eSafety Commissioner. These expert-led webinars were delivered to the parents and carers of primary and secondary school students respectively. This initiative is just one example of how CCSP helps to upskill parents and carers in their role as the first educators of their children.
CCSP has been engaging with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) in its development of new syllabuses following the NSW Curriculum Review. We have had input on the K-2 English and Maths Syllabus as both a key stakeholder and via our membership of NESA's Disability Education Forum. More generally, NESA has consulted with CCSP though its the cross-sectoral Contemporary Issues Parent Roundtable.
On 21 April 2021, I appeared as a witness at the public hearing of the NSW Legislative Council Education Committee’s inquiry into the Education Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020. This followed CCSP’s written submission to the inquiry earlier this year, which can be accessed here. A more comprehensive coverage of this item will be included in the next edition of Parent Talk in June.
Hitting the headlines recently has been ACARA’s proposed changes to the Australian Curriculum. Of concern to many in the community has been the apparent shift in emphasis that some claim serves to diminish the significance of Western civilisation in the establishment and development of Australian society. This edition of Parent Talk provides you with some background information and a link to ACARA’s feedback tool.
On 27 April 2021, I attended a meeting with various agency heads to provide advice to the Hon Sarah Mitchell MLC, NSW Minister of Education and Early Childhood, in the lead-up to the national meeting of Education Ministers. CCSP ensures that the voice of parents is heard by those who make decisions that affect our children.
Also in late April and early May, I visited the Diocesan Director in nine of the eleven dioceses in NSW/ACT. An added bonus was an opportunity to catch up with the Diocese of Willcannia- Forbes' Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE DD.
It is with great excitement that CCSP launches the 2021 Roger O’Sullivan Memorial Award for Family, School Community Partnerships for Learning. I urge Catholic school communities to consider making an application for this year’s award.
23 May 2021 marks the beginning of National Palliative Care Week. This year’s theme is “Palliative Care – It's more than you think.” Given the recent announcement by the Hon Alex Greenwich MLA, Member for Sydney, earlier this month to introduce a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to the NSW Parliament later in the year, I thought it fitting to include in this edition of Parent Talk some information about palliative care to assist you with how you might talk with your child on this sensitive topic.
Peter Grace, Executive Director
Many in our community do not have a deep understanding of what palliative care is and the role it might play in the life of a loved one. Talking with your child about palliative care can be challenging. It helps to know a few basic facts before you discuss this sensitive and important topic.
What is palliative care? According to Palliative Care Australia, palliative care helps people living with a life-limiting illness to live as well as they can by managing pain and symptoms to ensure their quality of life is maintained. It identifies and treats symptoms that may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. It is not merely a synonym for end-of-life care. There is so much more to it than that.
Palliative care shows respect for life. It does not seek to unnecessarily lengthen life or bring death on faster, but respects life and upholds human dignity. It is not euthanasia. Rather, it respects the sanctity of human life and gives patients some control over their treatment in their time of need. It has long been a significant part of health and aged care in our Catholic tradition. Palliative care aims to bring comfort to people and maximise their quality of life by attending to their spiritual, physical, and mental needs.
Palliative care addresses many needs. It may be used in response to an end-of-life situation or in the case of a patient who is suffering the effects of a progressive condition that cannot be cured. Chronic or life-limiting illnesses affect people of all ages and it may be that palliative care is the most appropriate response in the case of a child’s medical condition. It may be difficult for children or young people to understand that a friend or sibling close in age requires palliative care. In such cases, conversations with children need to be handled with great sensitivity. If you or your child would like further assistance, a list of organisations you can contact can be found here.
Palliative care is not something to be feared. It is much more than end-of-life care. It is different for each person depending on their needs. People receiving palliative care have input into how much and what kind of care they receive. It can take place in a clinical setting, such as a hospital ward, but much of it occurs at home. Either way, it is care that is provided by a nurturing and supportive network of highly-trained healthcare professionals.
Palliative care strives to lessen patients’ pain and stress. It also sets out to treat other symptoms that cause discomfort, including nausea, insomnia and constipation. Sometimes, these symptoms can be stabilised in a hospital and the patient can return home and receive ongoing care. For others who are close to death and unable to manage at home, there are hospice services available. You may need to explain to your child that as we go through life, we might experience various symptoms because of a medical condition we have at the time. For instance, if we have a cold we might sneeze or cough. You may need to explain why a loved one is experiencing certain symptoms, which may be upsetting or difficult for a child to understand. For instance, why someone might not be able to keep down their meal or why they cannot walk without assistance.
Effective palliative care must always be a genuine option. One of the arguments made in favour of euthanasia is that it grants a suffering person choice and autonomy. Adequately resourced palliative care also grants a suffering person choice and autonomy. However, have we, as a society, done enough to make it a genuine option for all? Michael Casey, Director, PM Glynn Institute, Australian Catholic University, asserts: “If the choice is between assisted dying on the one hand, and the absence of effective pain and symptom control on the other, it is a false choice and one which is unjust to offer.” We must also consider respect for life and solidarity with the weak and vulnerable. Before any decision is made around legislating for voluntary assisted dying, governments and law makers should ensure that everything possible has been done to address the significant gaps that exist in the provision of and access to palliative care.
Whether at a hospital or at home, our loved ones do not need to die in pain. Expert palliative care professionals now have some very effective treatments for pain. In providing pain relief, their task is not to make life longer or shorter, but to help us or our loved ones live as well as possible until we die. These professionals can also help us to find meaning as we or our loved ones face death. This is a difficult time for us, our family and our friends and is a time at which we all need a lot of support, including our children. We will feel different things at different times, such as sadness, confusion, fear, anger and peace. It is important that we support one another and, in trust and compassion, share our feelings with those we love. It is particularly important that we get a sense of how our children are feeling, listen to them, and comfort them, as needed. It is a time for us to be close to our loved ones and to God, so that we feel a sense of belonging rather than feeling abandoned.
We should all be aware that God loves each one of us more than we can know, and this is the case now, up to the time of death, and beyond. Our children need to know that death is a normal part of life, something we will all experience – it is a necessary part of the gift of life that God has given each one of us, but it is not the end. We look forward to eternal life with God.
We can tell our children that our lives are precious to God and that we should do all we can to defend life from conception to death (for younger children, we can say that God loves us even before we are born). We extend this belief to showing respect for those who have died. This is not only demonstrated by the rituals that are performed following death, but by the way in which we treasure the memories of our loved ones after they are gone.
A related article you may wish to consult from CCSP’s November 2019 edition of Parent Talk is Talking with your child about death. Access it here.
Note: The above quote from Michael Casey is taken from the Foreword of an Australian Catholic University report entitled A Snapshot of palliative care services in Australia. This comprehensive report is recommended reading and may be accessed here.
During April and May Peter Grace, Executive Director, CCSP, travelled over 2,000 km and visited the office of nine of the eleven Diocesan School Authorities to meet with the Diocesan Director, CCSP Volunteer Parent Representatives and Diocesan Executive Officer. Many topics were addressed during the meetings, a general theme from all dioceses is the shift in focus of the Parents and Friends/parent associations from fundraising to one more focused on students' learning outcomes and faith formation.
Other topics discussed included:
- Development of resources for parents to use in the lead up to the Federal election.
- CCSP will provide material containing information such as the various parties' positions on issues affecting Catholic schools, and tips for contacting local canditiates.
- Models of parent representation and, as applicable, establishing a Diocesan Parent Organisation Body
- Increasing Inter-diocesan collaboration, and CCSP's hosting of regular meetings to faciliate this collaboration
Evident in every meeting was the willingness of all parties to collaborate on parent engagement initiatives to best serve the interests of children in Catholic schools.
The 2021 Roger O’Sullivan Memorial Award for Family, School and Community Partnerships for Learning is awarded to a school community, including parents and carers, that can demonstrate exemplary practice in building partnerships between home and school to enhance the learning outcomes of students. These projects may focus on faith formation, the school curriculum, student wellbeing, or any combination of the three.
At the heart of this award are family, school and community partnerships in which the family and community are authentically engaged.
More than 50 years of research tells us that family, school and community engagement improves student learning outcomes.
Parent bodies and leaders from eligible Catholic school communities are invited to apply for the ROS Award by demonstrating how a partnership-focused initiative has enhanced student learning outcomes. The initiative must be an authentic parent engagement project. Ideally, it will have been parent-initiated, but this is not essential so long as parents have been collaborative partners and authentically engaged throughout the life of the project.
More information and an application form are available here.
St Catherine's College Singleton (K-12) was the inaugural recipient of the 2020 Roger O'Sullivan Highly Commended Award for their submission 'A Night on the Green".
The annual event has grown from a community building event on the college playground called 'the green" attended by 20 people in 2016 to a showcase of students' and teachers' talents attned by over 1000 people in 2019. Unfortunately, the 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entertainment for the first event in March 2016 was provided by an ex-student playing her guitar and two year 11 students offering face-painting. As parent and teacher engagement increased so did the scale of the event and its focus on the enhancement of learning outcomes for students. During 2016 the new Principal wanted to expand the college music programme. As student interest increased it became evident more instruments were required. Parents worked with the school executive and developed a plan to raise funds to purchase more instruments to enable more students receive the many benefits of playing a musical instrument with a band.
In 2019, a dedicated Primary Music Teacher was employed. As part of their teaching and learning program the school incorporated teaching each year group a song to perform with singing and instruments. The students prepare during Terms 3 and 4 and perform during the annual "Night on the Green" towards year end.
The College community volunteers to assist with BBQ, canteen, ticket sales, staging, popcorn sales and first aid. The school plans further engagement with students by asking the Ag Department to hold a petting zoo with animals from the College farm, the Food Tech Department selling cakes and biscuits and the Art Department setting up a gallery to display and sell student works. CCSP wishes the St Catherine's community all the best for its Night on the Green in 2021.
CCSP encourages school communities who have developed these types of initiatives to enter the 2021 Roger O'Sullivan Memorial Award for an opportunity to receive $4000 to enhance their project.
The New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) has launched a new digital hub, Everyday Maths. The videos, games and interactive activities have been co-designed by NSW teachers and tested by parents and carers to offer practical tools that shine a light on maths in everyday life.
Parents and carers can choose activities to best suit their child by using the year group filter. The aim of the hub is to give parents and carers a trusted place to go to get started, to build their confidence with maths, to support them in connecting with their children through maths, and empower them to foster skills in their children to find problems, to solve problems, to notice and to wonder about mathematical ideas that surround us everyday.
You can visit the hub here here.
The recent release of the new draft Australian Curriculum has received considerable media coverage. We thought it may be beneficial for parents and carers to understand the relationship between the Australian and NSW Curriculum, the bodies that develop them and their respective reviews.
Sometimes the words "syllabus" and " curriculum" are used to describe the same thing. A "syllabus" is what could be taught in each learning area while "curriculum" is the big picture describing everything that is taught in schools. In NSW, exams and assements are based on the course syllabus rather than the curriculum.
A student attending school in NSW will be educated in accordance with the NSW Curriculum, which draws from and is informed by the Australian Curriculum.
Both the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) are independent statutory authorities. Each has a specific remit in respect of the education of children and young people.
From 2010, NSW joined with the Australian Government and all other states and territories to develop an Australian Curriculum. ACARA has responsibility for developing the Australian Curriculum.
Implementation of the Australian Curriculum is the responsibility of states and territories.
NESA has legislative responsibility, for setting, monitoring and implementing Kindergarten to Year 12 curriculum for all NSW Government, Catholic and Independent schools.
In consultation with key stakeholders, NESA determines the timeline for syllabus development for each key learning area and the subsequent implementation of syllabuses in schools.
Simply put NESA ensures that the NSW Curriculum incorporates matter from the Australian Curriculum into the syllabus for each subject. For more information click here
"The release of the revised national history curriculum has reignited the perennial debate about what students should be taught about the nation’s history" wrote Kevin Donnelly, Senior Research Fellow, Australian Catholic University in the Sydney morning Herald 18 May 2021.
There have been several media articles in that raise concern about proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum. These include the approach to reading, teaching of civics, the de-emphasis of Western civiliation and Judeo-Christianity and, from some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander figures, the injection of "Critical Race Theory" into the classrom and the use of the label "First Nations" in reference to Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People.
David de Carvalho, ACARA CEO, released this statement addressing these concerns.
Senior Research Fellow, Australian Catholic University
ACARA is inviting feedback on proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum.
Parents and carers have until Thursday 8 July to provide feedback.
You can visit Australian curriculum consultation to have your say.
NSW Syllabus Reform
CCSP is engaging with NESA's syllabus reforms through participation in Parent Roundtable discussions and parent consultations. Parents and carers of students attending Government, Catholic and Independent schools are invited, via their peak body, to participate in these discussions. CCSP has represented the parents and carers of children and young people attending Catholic schools at several recent consultation sessions with NESA.
Thank you to CCSP Parent Representatives who have provided input at the K-2 English and Maths Parent Consultations and continue to be involved in the Contemporary Issues Parent Roundtable. In additon to these instances of parent representation at the state level, CCSP Executive Director, Peter Grace, is a member of the NESA Disability Education Forum, which monitors the development of all syllabuses and provides advice to NESA on their impact on students with diverse learning needs.
From our friends at Vinnies NSW: We are so excited to announce the return of the Family Winter Sleepout @Home in 2021! On Friday 30 July, students and their families will gather in their own homes to raise funds and awareness for those experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.
This year, we are inviting Catholic Schools right across NSW to join us in a combined effort to raise funds that will assist Vinnies in providing support for those in our community who need it most. Don’t forget, schools can choose to have the funds they raise designated to their conference for local assistance within their community.
We would love to have you on board to help make this year’s event the best yet! To get your school involved this year, schools can register now via the following link https://my.fundraise.vinniesnsw.org.au/fundraise-your-way/family-winter-sleepout-home-1 and any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCSP encourages participation in this initiative. It is a family-school partnership designed to support a most worthy cause.
We thank Australian Catholic Superannuation for the generous support they give our national body, Catholic School Parents Australia, and for their ongoing commitment to the parents and carers of children and young people in Catholic schools.
For more information about their services and offerings, please visit catholicsuper.com.au.