- News from our President
- Meet our New Parent Engagement Officers
- 2020 PIE Grant Applications Opening
- What have we been up to?
- Please Consider the Federation in your 2020 School Budget
- New Resources to Support Children’s Transition from Primary to Secondary School
- Transition Barriers for Secondary Students with Disability
- Parents: Have Your Say
- Banning of Mobile Phones in State Schools
- We are Looking for New Council Members!
- Book Now! Community Engagement & Partnership Forum for Parents and School Staff
As the school year approaches the pointy end, the Federation has been busy in many areas around South Australia. Members of our Council have been visiting School Boards and talking with them about the Federation - who we are, what we do and how we can help. This has been very successful with almost all the boards we have visited choosing for their school commuities to affiliate with us in 2019.
At Tenison Woods College in Mt Gambier where my own children attend, we started the term by celebrating the musical achievements of our junior school students. My youngest is in Year 5 so this year will be my last involvement with this concert and that made it extra special. The joy of watching the Foundation students play xylophone, the Year 3 students on recorder and the choirs was topped off with an amazing performance by Year 4 student Gabe who wrote a song and recorded a music video to promote the school’s theme of “Everybody Shines”.
Sitting in the dark at the concert listening to the beautiful, inspiring words of this song was made even more special for me as in the video, Gabe starts off singing alone and is slowly joined by more and more students. The first students to join him are extra special… these are the Poplars Inclusive Education students. As a parent of a past Poplars student I watched most of the video with tears pouring down my face seeing these fabulous young people finally given the chance to shine. Here they were, front and centre, celebrating their own achievements… it is truly an inspiring song and I encourage you to watch the video and share it with others.
We are excited to welcome our two new Parent Engagement Officers to the Federation, Nicole Kovacevic and Lisa Kelly. Between them they have children at St Therese School (Colonel Light Gardens), Cabra Dominican College, Our Lady of La Vang and Sacred Heart College.
Our Finance Officer Teresa Matkovic recently clocked up an amazing 13 years of service with us and took some leave to celebrate with a well-earned holiday in Vietnam.
On Monday 21st October, our next engagement forum for parents and school staff will be held at the Thebarton Community Centre with the spotlight on community engagement and partnership. This is a new focus area for PIE grants in 2020 but the forum is about much more than just PIE grants.
We are super excited to welcome Louise Nobes, Founder and CEO of KIK Innovation, as our main speaker. KIK is a social enterprise focused on ending youth unemployment by promoting access to the right resources so that young people can, in Louise’s own words, “become empowered by their own abilities and gain the confidence to be great.”
We thank Tennison Woods College for permission to allow us to share the video.
Welcome to our new staff members, Lisa Kelly and Nicole Kovacevic who have joined us on a part time basis as Parent Engagement Officers.
We invited Nicole and Lisa to introduce themselves and share some thoughts on their role and the Federation.
Applications for 2020 PIE grant initiatives will open on Monday 14th October and close on Monday 25th November.
The maximum funding request per application has again been set at $2,500.
A third focus area has been added and this is ‘collaborating with parents/carers in the development of community relationships and partnerships that will enhance students’ education opportunities and outcomes.’
Please note that your school community doesn’t have to be a member of the Federation to be eligible, and that schools whose current projects are still being completed are eligible to re-apply.
Meeting with Education Minister John Gardner
When we met with the Minister in August, we:
- Thanked him for continuing to support our work this year through an operating grant of $22,000 and discussed future arrangements.
- Clarified that Parent Engagement Week will not continue (an event we successfully proposed to the former Labor government in 2014).
- Spoke about the value of PIE grant funding for our school communities, how it is being spent and why it needs to continue.
- Discussed the government’s progress with its 2018 election commitments – access for non-government school students to bus services in regional areas, improved internet access for non-government schools with high levels of need, regional parent workshops on dyslexia and other learning difficulties, and improvements to career information and services.
- Raised our interest in creating more opportunities for parents of children with disability to gain information and skills that will help them to support their children’s job readiness, job searching and integration into the world of work.
The Minister said:
- The review into access to bus services for non-government school students in country areas received enormous feedback from schools, parents and others. The government wants to ensure Catholic and Independent school students have fair, or reasonable, access and so the aim of the review was to work out how to make this happen. The government will be announcing its response soon. The Minister says we may not be 100% satisfied but that there will be definite improvements.
- The commitment to extend the SA Government – Telstra partnership from government schools to non-government schools is about running fibre optic cables past school gates so that schools can then connect up to high speed internet (at their own cost). He said on current figures, about 67 Catholic schools are likely to sign up to this initiative.
- The government has just closed its community consultation on vocational education and training (VET) in SA schools and recently appointed the Careers Industry Council of Australia to review career counselling practices and resources across Australia. The results of these two reviews will be used to develop new policy directions and these will be published later this year.
- The government wants to lift the status of VET courses and do a better job of helping students and their families to understand the employment opportunities that VET pathways provide.
Of the top 50 occupations forecast to have the highest growth in SA over the coming years, 82% will need VET qualifications rather than a bachelor degree (SA Training & Skills Commission).
Only 19% of young people have a good/very good understanding of VET pathways while almost 50% do of university pathways (2018 Youth Census).
Earlier this year we invited school communities to re-affiliate with the Federation with the cost of membership significantly reduced overall, and fees now structured into 4 categories instead of one set amount. In previous years, the fee was $3.20 per student. The new fee categories are $1.60, $1.90, $2.10 and $2.40 per student. We also gave schools the option of deciding for themselves what they were willing and able to pay if the fee we were proposing for them was too high.
Some schools advised that they hadn’t budgeted for Federation fees this year and would look at doing so when setting their 2020 budgets.
We exist to represent and support Catholic school parents and families, and to work with schools and education stakeholders, so that students will have the best possible opportunities and outcomes.
We are a voice for parents regardless of whether schools have a formal parent group or not, are whether they are members of the Federation or not. We are doing lots of good work on a shoe string budget and with limited human resources, and we will continue to do what we can.
We sincerely thank all the schools who re-affiliated with us this year – your moral and financial support has made a difference and enabled us to keep making a difference – and hope other schools will support our mission and activities in 2020.
Gearing up for Parent Engagement in Student Learning.
A new toolkit loaded with practical ideas is now available to help make the transition from primary to secondary school a great experience for children and families and encourage strong home – school relationships.
Developed by Catholic School Parents Australia (CSPA) and launched by federal Education Minister Dan Tehan this week in Canberra, the kit has 22 modules which are freely available to parents, carers and educators in all school systems.
The Minister said:
‘When parents and teachers have a healthy, engaged relationship, our students benefit.
These toolkits help parents navigate some of the tricky junctures in a child’s journey through the school years.
Teachers will benefit from advice on how to effectively communicate with parents, and work with them to provide a strong support network for students.’
The toolkit is the result of a national research project which CSPA conducted with government, Catholic and Independent school principals and parents. The federal government provided funding for the research and the toolkit.
The Federation participated in a discussion of the transition barriers that students with disability may face as they move on from school to further education and employment.
Hosted by Susan Beard from the National Disability Coordination Officer Program (NDCO), the purpose was to share current approaches and develop new collaborative strategies to address these.
One key concern was that many parents don’t know how to access necessary and useful information and don’t realise that they need to start the transition process very early.
The ins and outs of disclosing disabilities, learning disorders and medical conditions during training, education and employment were also discussed at length.
The Federation will be following up on a range of ideas. In the meantime, there are some fabulous resources on the NDCO and related websites and we will have others available at our Community Engagement Forum on Monday 21st October.
Are you happy with the way your children's teachers communicate and share information with you?
The Australian Parents Council wants to know what you think, what works and what doesn't work for you, and what could be done better. Its new national survey is open to all parents of school age children in Australia and takes just 5 - 10 minutes to complete.
The Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan has backed the survey, saying ‘parents know their children better than anyone, so their feedback is vitally important to help further improve our education system. Our government wants to hear from parents about their experiences and where they think education can be further improved.’
The Federation of Catholic School Parent Communities SA is a foundation member of the Australian Parents Council.
APC President Shelley Hill says one of the driving forces behind the survey has been recent negative media coverage of parents.
‘Parents want to encourage and protect their children. That’s natural. It’s perfectly legitimate to ask for information about your child’s progress and wellbeing at school, and to be able to discuss any issues with teachers.
‘Yet there’s been no end of criticism of parents in the media recently. We’ve been variously labelled as pushy, helicopters, lawnmowers, incapable of saying no, and blamed as the cause of all the problems in Australian schools. Literally.
‘While inappropriate behaviour is never okay, friction comes when there’s a lack of, or breakdown, in communication and trust from both sides.
‘There are many examples of positive and effective home school collaboration that we can learn from. But the experiences and perspectives of parents have to be part of this debate if we are going to move forward. That’s why we are asking parents across the country to share their insights with us.’
In June, the Marshall Government spoke about whether it would consider banning mobile phone use in South Australian public schools.
The Victorian Government has already announced that starting from next year, state school students will not be allowed to use mobile phones between the opening and closing bells of the day. This announcement followed mobile phonebans in France, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom last year.
Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, said it was an attempt to reduce cyber bullying and distraction during class time.
South Australian Education Minister, John Gardner, said that the Marshall Government would monitor the results of the ban and consider whether it would be implemented in SA.
“This is currently a local decision for principals in South Australia, and a number of schools have recently moved to an explicit mobile phone ban at all times during the school day,” he said in a statement.
“We will closely monitor the new arrangement in Victoria to inform us on whether a blanket approach has advantages over those local arrangements.
“We respect the autonomy of our principals to manage such issues and any decision on a blanket ban would be informed by consultation with schools.”
The Federation is governed by a small group of quite ordinary but very committed and passionate people who believe in the right of parents and families to have a voice in issues affecting their children’s education.
We have several vacancies on the Council which we are looking to fill over the next few months and are keen to hear from people with a possible interest in joining us.
The Council meets face-to-face four once a term on a weekend and has four other meetings by teleconference. Dates and times are negotiated to suit all Council members, and reasonable travel and accommodation expenses are paid for council members who live in country regions.
The Council is a developmental environment, meaning that we don’t expect everyone to have well-developed skills. Through encouragement and coaching, many previous councillors have grown from passionate and keen volunteers into confident and accomplished governors.
Council members are mainly but not only drawn from school communities that are affiliated with (are members of) the Federation.
If you are potentially interested in joining the Council, feel free to contact President Kylie Ind on 042 823 3373 or Vice President Caz Bosch on 041 889 1531.
Monday 21 October, 10.00 – 12.00 at the Thebarton Community Centre.
Louise Nobes is one amazing person and so we are delighted to have her as the keynote speaker at our upcoming engagement forum in the second week of next term.
An award-winning social entrepreneur, Louise is the founder and CEO of KIK Innovation whose vision is to end youth unemployment. Her approach to this complex issue underpins four successful, youth-designed business in Adelaide including KiK Coffee and KiK & The Chocolate Factory.
Louise and our other speakers will speak about community-based approaches that support young people who experience disadvantage to engage in education and employment and follow their dreams.
The event is free and limited to 20 people on a ‘first in’ basis.
There will be time to talk, and for any schools intending to apply for a 2020 PIE grant focused on community engagement or partnership to bounce ideas and ask questions.
The Thebarton Community Centre is just around the corner form the Catholic Education Office and parking is plentiful and free.