- Welcome to Parent Talk
- Parental Rights Bill
- Championing the next generation of teachers
- Tips to help you and your child talk about subject selection and career options
- Would $4000 assist to develop your family school partnership initiative?
- Pope Francis establishes World Day of Grandparents
- More than a word; Reconciliation takes action
- Update from Curriculum Reform Parent Roundtable
- Prime Minister recognises contribution of Catholic Education to Australian life
- NSW Catholic students raise their voices in celebration
- Your opportunity to provide feedback into the review of the Australian Curriculum
- Vinnies NSW Family winter Sleepout @Home
- Australian Catholic Super
Welcome to the fourth edition of CCSP's Parent Talk for 2021.
I hope you had the opportunity to attend one of the Masses celebrating 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia. I was honoured to attend the National Mass at St Mary's Cathedral, it was a truly wonderful celebration. The Hon Scott Morrison, Prime Minister, recorded a video greeting and a recording of students from across Australia performing Faith in Our Future was played in the Cathedral. There is a link to both of these videos later in this newsletter. Student representatives from Sydney Catholic Schools, educators and distinguished guests heard His Grace Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP speak of God's love for us all during his inspiring homily. There is a link to both of these videos later in this newsletter.
As I foreshadowed in issue three of Parent Talk, I have included some information about the NSW Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill. It is not yet determined when it will be debated in Parliament.
CCSP continues to advocate for parents during the current reforms to the Australian Curriculum by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the NSW Curriculum and syllabuses by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). CCSP will make a submission to ACARA regarding the draft Australian Curriculum. Parents and teachers have until 8 July to make individual submissions. See later in this newsletter for a link.
On 10 June, CCSP Chair, Wayne Davie, and I met with NESA CEO, Paul Martin, to discuss the ongoing NESA reforms and to ensure the voice of Catholic school parents is heard. In addition to this, Catholic school parents are represented at NESA Parent Roundtable meetings and are providing feedback on various NESA projects.
Included in this newsletter are examples of how members of CCSP's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee are bringing to life the theme of Reconciliation Week 2021, "More than a word. Reconciliation takes action."
As Term Two draws to a close, some students may be thinking about subject selection and career direction. We have included some handy tips that may assist you to guide your student with subject selections.
I hope you and your families will be able to celebrate World Grandparents Day on Sunday 25 July.
Finally, congratulations to Mr Tony Farley and Dr Jacqueline Frost on the first Family Forum hosted online by Sydney Catholic Schools on 25 May 2021. This was a great opportunity for the parents and carers of students in Archdiocesan schools to find out more about key aspects of the thriving Catholic Communities that are Sydney Catholic Schools.
In 2020, the Hon Mark Latham MLC, put forward a Private Member’s Bill to the NSW Parliament designed to protect the role of parents as their children’s first educators in relation to core values such as ethical and moral standards, social and political values and an understanding of personal identity, including gender and sexuality. The Bill also includes a prohibition on the teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools. Recognising the importance of parental primacy, the Bill also would see schools required to consult with parents at the beginning of each year about courses of study that will include teaching on core values. The Bill is accessible here and its Explanatory note is accessible here.
When the Bill was first presented to the Legislative Council (Upper House) of the NSW Parliament, Mr Latham identified a number of examples in which inappropriate teaching and learning activities had taken place in NSW classrooms. He also identified several instances where unsuitable content was included in teacher professional development courses. There has since been a review of teacher professional development in NSW by NESA, which has resulted in some significant changes. The second reading speech is accessible here.
In February of this year, CCSP was invited to make a submission to the Parliamentary Committee undertaking an inquiry into the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020. Comments were sought from members of the CCSP Council and a draft prepared, which was then circulated to Council members before being finalised. CCSP’s written submission to the inquiry is accessible here.
Following this submission, CCSP Executive Director, Peter Grace, was invited to appear as a witness before the Public Hearing of the Committee on 21 April 2021. Peter addressed the Committee on behalf of the parents and carers of the children and young people in NSW Catholic schools by explaining the paramount importance of the role parents play in the education and formation of their children. He said that this is not only most evident in the teachings of the Catholic Church, it is also reflected in international law. He said that the rights of parents must not be undermined or usurped by schools or teachings seeking to push an ideology of gender fluidity.
In answering the politicians’ questions, he advised that CCSP’s reading of the Bill is that it is a narrow prohibition on the teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity and that teachers would still be able to discuss matters of gender and sexuality in a neutral way. He went further to say that the Bill should in no way preclude a school from providing appropriate pastoral care to students who are experiencing gender dysphoria or any other kind of gender- or sexuality-related mental health issues. Such care, in partnership with the student’s family, is consistent with a central tenet of Catholic Social Teaching, the protection and promotion of the dignity of the human person.
At one point, Peter asserted, “It is a privilege to be a parent” and said that it is remarkable that some parents might willingly surrender the responsibilities which parents typically take very seriously. This met with almost universal approval among the members of the Committee. The transcript of Peter’s testimony is accessible here.
Over the course of the two-day Public Hearing, the Committee heard many different voices espousing divergent views. The range of views among the witnesses appeared to reflect the range of views held by the members of the Committee. Appearing in the same session as Peter was Dallas McInerney, CEO of Catholic Schools NSW. Dallas also stood firm on the right of parents to be the primary formative influence in their children’s lives. The Catholic Schools NSW submission is accessible here. Readers might also be interested in other submissions that oppose the teaching of gender fluidity ideology in schools, including the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Diocese of Parramatta.
A question on notice that Peter took from the Public Hearing related to Catholic schools consulting with parents on matters of gender and sexuality. Peter has since been able to provide the Committee with evidence of Catholic schools engaging with parents on such matters indicating that a strong partnership exists between parents, principals and teachers in matters of parental primacy. Peter was also asked some supplementary questions by the Committee with which he was able to re-iterate CCSP’s position that parents are the first educators of their children and that schools, teachers and providers of professional development should not attempt to undermine or usurp them.
The Committee is currently deliberating on the testimonies provided at the Public Hearing and the responses to questions on notice and supplementary questions. CCSP will watch closely its progress and provide updates in future editions of Parent Talk.
Congratulations to Saige Conners, recipient of the 2021 Council of Catholic School Parents Pre-service Teacher Scholarship, University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA). Saige, who received an ATAR of 97.75 in the 2020 HSC, is enrolled in a Bachelor of Primary Education at UNDA. CCSP created this scholarship in 2019 to promote to future teachers the importance and subsequent application of parent and teacher engagement.
“My goal and passion since the beginning of High School has been to become a Primary School Teacher.”
Saige recounted after Peter Grace, Executive Director, CCSP, presented her the award. UNDA hosted the Award ceremony, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Campus, Sydney, Professor Christine Bennett AO, Ms Hilary Johnstone-Croke, Director, UNDA, Dr Kevin Watson, Professor, School of Education, Sydney, Katrina Lee, National Director, Communications, Byron Barnes, Chief Advancement Officer, Nichole Anasson, Alumni Relations Manager, from UNDA joined Saige, her parents, Kate and Richard Conners and Grandmother Mrs Jan Conners for the ceremony.
“After the 2020 ATAR was released, many of my friends asked would I change my mind and enrol in a different degree? I have not wavered from my ambition to become to a teacher.
“A teacher can aim to establish and foster high quality, positive relationships with all students, by displaying honesty, maintaining a high level of expectation and creating an atmosphere of safety and enthusiasm for learning in the school environment. “ wrote Saige in her application.
Many positive role models have inspired Saige to become a teacher. Miss Williams, Saige’s Year One Teacher at St Cecilia’s Catholic Primary School Balgowlah, encouraged her to be the best student she could be. This encouragement and support continued though secondary school at Loreto Kirribilli. “I am grateful for the great teachers, support and opportunities presented to me” said Saige. Participating in the Smith Family Student to Student Reading Program involved weekly telephone contact with disadvantaged students to listen and evaluate their reading skills and provide feedback towards improving their reading skills and confidence.
The many teachers in Saige’s family inspired her to become a teacher. Her mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle are all teachers. Kate, Saige's mother, attended Catholic primary and secondary schools, then studied teaching at Australian Catholic University and taught secondary students at Marist Sisters’ College Woolwich.
We look forward to Saige making a positive contribution to the noble profession of teaching. You can read more in The Catholic Weekly online.
Depending on the age of your child their future job or career may not have been created, such is the rapid rate of development in our society. So how can a parent or carer assist and guide students?
The my future website developed by the Australian Government contains many useful tips and strategies for students and their carers to guide them along the sometimes challenging path of choosing a career direction and the subjects to help them develop that career.
Subject selection commences during Year 7 or 8 and continues until your student makes the final choices at end of Year 11 for Year 12. This can be difficult when the majority of young students are unclear about the jobs they wish to work in.
We have summarised helpful tips from the website to help you guide your child.
Your child should choose subjects that:
- enable them to work from their strengths and are enjoyable while they study
- challenge them to make the most of their capabilities
- provide them with the qualification they need to pursue their ambitions after school
- offer a range of study that is manageable, with a balance between theoretical and practical subjects
- provide life skills
- are their choice and not the choice of others.
Stategies to help you help your child:
1. Stay calm and open-minded
Remember, it's your child's life and they are your child's choices to make, not yours.
2. Be a positive influence
Talk about your career. Highlight events and experiences that influenced your goals and how you did or didn’t realise them.
3. Encourage your child to talk to other adults about their careers
Hearing about careers from adults young and old will help your child think about their place in society at different life stages. They could talk to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, their friends' parents or other people they know.
4. Watch movies and television together
Discuss the characters and what they do. Think about how satisfying their lives are and how work contributes to their happiness.
5. Talk about the people you know or those you meet in your day-to-day activities
Ask questions like, 'Do you think Sally likes being a nurse?' or 'Do you think the dentist is good at her job?'
6. Do things together
Baking a cake, planting a veggie garden, whatever the activity, do it together. Compliment your child on their skills. Keep it simple: 'You're very organised when you cook! Wait for a response. In time, you can discuss these skills further and link them to the workforce. For example, you could say 'Plumbers need to be organised, otherwise they miss out on making money because they're too slow and people don't use them again'. These chats highlight the importance of recognising one's own skills and how such skills are valued in the workplace.
7. Ask your child what would they choose if they could be or do anything in the whole world
You said once you wanted to be a famous actor.' 'Would you consider drama as an elective?
8. Make it easy for your child to participate in work experience programs
This may include formal work experience or other school-organised fieldwork that has a focus on the workforce.
9. Encourage your child to participate in activities at school or in the community
Your child could help out at a sports club, join their school fete committee or get involved in the school production. They develop work skills, which are valuable to learn and practice. Your child will learn that work can be routine, fun and dull on occasions.
10. If your child is ready, encourage them to seek a part-time job
Help them to write their resume, and be there when they deliver resumes in person. Support your child if they don't get the job.
11. Start to build your career profile
Your child can start to develop ideas by completing My career profile. My career profile generates a personalised list of suggested occupations based on your activity responses.
Who else can help with these discussions?
The course counsellor or careers advisor at your child's school will be able to give advice on choosing senior school subjects. In particular, they will be able to provide your child with information about the subjects:
- required for entry to university
- related to particular occupations
- required for VET courses.
The following people and organisations can also assist your child to make informed decisions:
- subject teachers
- Indigenous education workers
- lecturers and teachers at universities and TAFEs
- students who are currently studying the subjects your child is interested in
- people in an industry or organisation that interests your child
- role models or successful people in the career of their choice.
Keep having conversations. As your student progresses through school and they experience different opportunities, their interests may change.
Has your school implemented an initiative that focuses on school, parent and community collaboration?
Does it focus on faith formation, the school curriculum, student wellbeing, or any combination of the three?
The initiative may have commenced in 2021 or be an ongoing project.
Your school community can apply for the 2021 Roger O'Sullivan Memorial Award for Family, School and Community Partnerships for Learning. For more information visit the CCSP website.
Applications close 20 July 2021.
“It is important for grandparents to meet their grandchildren and for grandchildren to meet their grandparents because – as the prophet Joel says — grandparents, before their grandchildren, will dream and have great desires, and young people — taking strength from their grandparents – will go forward and prophesy,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis announced the establishment of a World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly as a reminder of the important role they play as a link between generations. The day will be celebrated every year on the fourth Sunday of July to coincide with the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents. July 25 2021 is the first celebration of the World Day of Grandparents.
There have been many events held in Australia to commemorate National Reconciliation Week 2021. Here are some examples of how the members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee of the Council of Catholic School Parents are taking action.
The Warraymalaya Retreat is a program that has been running for 19 years in the Diocese of Armidale. Sharon Cooke, K-12 Aboriginal Education Manager, Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Armidale, a past Chair of the CCSP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee is the facilitator of the program. Mitch Tambo, International star, ex-student of McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth performed and spoke with the students.
We congratulate Sharon Cooke on her recent appointment as State Manager, Aboriginal Education with Catholic Schools NSW.
Students from St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra created a video to share their understanding of the importance of the 1967 Referendum. Thank you to Karan Taylor and Lynette Kelly for developing this video.
Several Aboriginal staff from Catholic Education Diocese of Wagga Wagga and its schools have been learning the Wiradjuri language through a partnership developed by Charles Sturt University and the Wiradjuri Council of Elders.
The dream behind the Graduate Certificate of Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage is that the:
Expertise and cultural knowledge of Elders will be combined with the dreams and aspirations of younger Wiradjuri people and allies to re-energise us all so that there is a stronger Wiradjuri Nation that can fulfil our obligations and responsibilities to Country and communities.
Pictured below is Luke Wighton, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee member and employee of Catholic Education Diocese of Wagga Wagga, on Country at The Rock near Wagga Wagga with some of his colleages from Catholic Education Diocese of Wagga Wagga.
The NSW Education Standard Authority (NESA) is continuing to consult with stakeholders as they embark on projects arising from the NSW Curriculum Review. Parents with students in the Catholic and Government school sectors were represented at the May Curriculum Reform Parent Roundtable meeting. Some of the discussion related to how NESA is redeveloping the way teachers, parents and students can access syllabuses online. CCSP parent representatives will be providing NESA with early feedback on the design ideas for the new website. There was also a discussion about how to better support students and parents with student subject selection. Refer to another article in this newsletter for some helpful tips on subject selection and career choices.
A National Mass was celebrated simultaneously across Australia, on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, on Monday 24 May 2021, to celebrate 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia. A message from the Hon Scott Morrison, MP, Prime Minister of Australia, was played during the service. Prime Minister Morrison said, " Over 200 years, your schools, preschools and now universities, have transformed Australia through the millions of lives you have influenced. I recognise the contribution of Catholic Education to Australian life and I join you celebrating this anniversary." You can read his full congratulatory message here.
National Catholic Education Executive Director Jacinta Collins said the National Mass would be a highlight of the bicentenary year. "As a faith community, our National Mass to celebrate 200 years of Catholic education holds significant meaning."
"The scale of Catholic education in Australia is unique in the world, serving over 777,000 students and employing over 100,000 staff. "We are blessed to have the support of governments and our families that ensures we can make a Catholic education accessible to families in every major town and city, and in many regional, rural and remote parts of Australia," she said.
“It was great seeing the wider Catholic community coming together in unity to celebrate 200 years of Catholic education and I was honoured to be a part of such a big event,” said Year 12 Parramatta Marist High School student Jimmy Geagea.
He was joined by students across Australia to create a video performance of the national song Faith in the Future. The video features 370 students from 29 Catholic schools across Australia including remote, regional and rural communities. St Patrick’s Primary and Parramatta Marist schools in the Diocese of Parramatta both have linkages to the first Catholic school opened on Hunter St Parramatta in 1820.
Students from: Aquinas Catholic College Menai, Catherine McAuley Westmead, Galilee Catholic Primary School Bondi, Marist College Eastwood, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Primary Waterloo, Our Lady of The Sacred Heart College Kensington, Parramatta Marist High School Westmead, St Canice’s Katoomba, St Columba’s Catholic College Springwood, St Patrick's Catholic Primary School Sutherland, St. Patrick's College Sutherland, St Patrick's Primary Parramatta and Holy Trinity School Inverell feature in the video.
The national song was composed by Fr Rob Galea, who currently serves in the Sandhurst Diocese. He was featured in the video with students from Notre Dame College Shepparton in Victoria. “The song encapsulates the importance of the 200 years of history, influencing and forming the culture of Australia,” Fr Rob said. “200 Years of education is an incredible milestone and blessing.” Read here for a complete list of schools included in the video.
ACARA is inviting feedback on proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum.
The previous edition of Parent Talk contained an article about the Australian Curriculum. Parent Talk 2021 Issue 3.
Parents and carers have until Thursday 8 July to provide feedback.
You can visit Australian curriculum consultation to have your say.
From our friends at Vinnies NSW:
As the cold weather approaches, so too does this year’s Family Winter Sleepout @Home!
We are excited to see that so many schools around NSW have already jumped on board for a special night where we reflect on and make a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.
For those who haven’t yet heard, on Friday 30th July we are inviting our Catholic School Community to join us for the Family Winter Sleepout @Home. A night where we ask students to sleep or sit outside for a period of time, share a prayer and donate what they can to Vinnies NSW.
If you would like to get your school involved it is not too late! Head over to https://my.fundraise.vinniesnsw.org.au/fundraise-your-way/family-winter-sleepout-home-1 and register now.
You will be able to set up a personalised fundraising page for your school, access a range of resources and join in this state-wide effort to shine a light on the issue of homelessness in NSW. You can also choose to have the funds raised by your school designated to your local conference to help fund projects in your own region.
If you have any questions at all, please reach out 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.