- Welcome to Our Term One Newsletter
- Helping Ourselves and Our Children in the Corona Crisis
- What's Happening at the Federation?
- Looking for New Council Members
- Costa and Junior Landcare Want to Know “What’s in Your Backyard?
- Family Support During Year 12
- Please Just Say You’re Proud of Me!
- St Columba's Memorial School: Little Collies Playgroup
- Parent and Family Engagement: An Implementation Guide for School Communities
- Leadership Change at the SA Teachers Registration Board
- Get Ready for Study and Work: Young People with Disability and Medical Conditions
- A Prayer for Parent Meetings
The Federation listens closely to all the parents and principals we meet on our school visits across the state and we are grateful for the welcomes and feedback we receive.
By sharing your opinions, thoughts and information with us you are helping us to help you. Our role is to represent and support parents and carers with children in Catholic education and we can’t do this well if we don’t know what’s happening in schools and ‘parent land’.
Lots of evidence now shows that family support for children’s learning at home makes a real difference to children’s motivation to do their schoolwork and their academic results.
Good communication and cooperation between teachers and parents are important too.As parents, we need information and ideas that we can understand and use to help our children. Parents and teachers know different things about a child too, so it makes sense to swap information and agree together on what will best help that child to learn and develop. It is especially important in this COVID-19 crisis for parents and teachers to respect each other, be kind and patient, and do everything we can to work together.
We gratefully acknowledge the work of Kylie Ind who recently resigned her role as President of the Federation Council. A mother of three, one with special needs, a nurse and small business owner in Mount Gambier, and a committed volunteer, Kylie has steered the Federation through three difficult years with determination, optimism and good grace. Kylie continues to serve as a Council member.
As Easter approaches there is a sadness that our Church rituals and family customs will be subdued, and visible and silent suffering is everywhere. But Easter encourages us to bring light to the lives of others and this is surely what we must strive to do.
Lisa Kelly (Parent Engagement Officer) & Caz Bosch (Vice President)
*Photo from St Mary Mackillop School, Wallaroo
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his wife had gone out the other day to buy lots of jigsaw puzzles for their two girls. 'I can assure you over the next few months, we're going to consider those jigsaw puzzles absolutely essential'.
This caused some fun on twitter. 'This new guidance from the government that says jigsaws can only have a maximum of 2 pieces seems like a bit over the top' someone tweeted. Back came 'If the jigsaw is getting married in a food court while getting its hair cut, it can have 10 pieces'. And then, 'All pieces of the jigsaw must remain 1.5 metres apart'.
In The Advertiser last weekend, you may also have read that dogs are exhausted from all the walks they're getting, and cats are going crazy with humans in their space 24/7!
Reasons to laugh are in short supply at the moment. We're being bombarded with bad news and worn down by worry. It's hard to keep calm. It helps to be reminded that it's normal to experience huge stress in a huge crisis.
So much information is being pushed out but a lot of it is unreliable and this is adding to the confusion and anxiety.
One good piece of advice is to avoid getting caught up in the hype and fear by limiting the amount of time you and your children spend listening to TV and radio, reading newspapers and engaging with social media.
We're sharing here just a couple of things we think might really help parents, carers and children.
Put on your fake suit of armour says Maggie Dent (Parental as Anything).
As parents, we have a really important job to do - helping our children through this crisis while also looking after ourselves. Maggie discusses how to talk with children about COVID-19 and ideas for lowering the stress in your home. (ABC video podcast; length = 19 minutes)
Helping Young Children Understand Coronavirus and How They Can Help
This video is recommended for 4 - 11 year olds but we think it's best suited to 4 - 8 year olds. There's a discussion guide (which is okay) and an activity sheet (which is brilliant). The activity sheet is a good way to empower children to make their own plan to help slow the virus, calm themselves when they're worried and fill in spare time at home. In fact, we think it would be great if all family members did the sheet and shared their plans. (Developing Minds, SA; length = 5 minutes)
How Parents Can Remain Sane: You Are a Parent Not a Teacher
Andrew Fuller specialises in the wellbeing of young people and their families. This short read has some good advice for parents, especially those with teenagers, and we thank Andrew for sharing it with us.
Corona Calm 01. Soothe Your Mind with Meditation (Parents)
This meditation has been created to help you feel a sense of calm in your mind and in your home. Set aside 'me time' to practice it in a quiet space. (ABC audio podcast; length = 8 minutes)
Corona Calm 02. A Mediation on Kindness and Compassion (Families)
And this meditation, created for parents and children to do together, is absolutely wonderful.(ABC audio podcast; length = 7 minutes0
- The Minister for Education agreed to a $5000 increase in our operational grant to assist our rural and regional work.
- We allocated $16,000 from our financial reserves to sponsor four parent capacity building projects in rural/regional school clusters or schools in Term 2.
- We offered new work contracts to Nicole and Lisa to continue their fantastic work as Parent Engagement Officers.
- We made a number of school visits in Term 1, including to the Riverland in March where we met with school and parent leaders in four schools.
- We launched our new website in March.
- We scheduled the first of our annual parent and community forums for May, with confirmed speakers from Galilee Catholic School, St Columba's Memorial School (Yorketown) and Immaculate Heart of Mary School.
- We allocated over $30,000 of funding on behalf of the Minister for Education for PIE grant projects in 19 schools.
- We have continued to press for action on the Marshall Goverment's election promise to provide fairer access to school bus services in rural areas.
- We participated in the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority's briefing to state-based parent organisations on the 2020 update of the My School website and the changes in how NAPLAN results will now be reported.
- We attended a consultation on proposed reforms to how the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and Education Services Australia are governed and operate.
- We were invited by the SA Department for Education to take part in a live stream presentation and discussion on the facts and impacts of the Coronavirus which was opened by the SA Premier.
- We have scheduled our AGM for Monday May 25th at 7.00pm by teleconference, with meeting papers to be posted to affiliated members in the next week.
- We decided not to send out any affiliation invitations and fee invoices in Term 1 and will review the situation in Term 2.
As part of its 2020 action plan, the Federation decided to use its own funds to support some communities and families who maybe aren’t always as well supported.
As newcomers to the Federation, we have a real sense of appreciation of how these funds have been saved by people deeply invested in the Federation and what a wonderful initiative this is.
Nicole & Lisa
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 four vacancies on the Council which we are hoping to fill in the next few months and are keen to hear from people with a possible interest in joining us.
The Council meets face-to-face once a term on a weekend and has four other meetings by teleconference. Dates and times are negotiated to suit all Council members, and travel and accommodation expenses are paid for members who live in country regions.
The Council is a developmental environment, meaning we don’t expect people to have super-amazing skills. Through encouragement, coaching and experience, councillors grow 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, please chat with Vice-President Caz Bosch on 0418 891 531 or Parent Engagement Officer Nicole Kovacevic on 0407 394 732.
Costa is asking kids across Australia to grab a camera and snap photos of the flora and fauna in their backyard in a new campaign to encourage our next generation to get outside and document what's in their local environment.
The competition is open to children under 18 and it's fine for parents, carers and teachers to help. You can submit as many photos as you like by Friday 1 May 2020.
Sounds like a pretty good project for the school holidays!
Bees are beautiful and unique and we love ours just the way they are. Please don’t spray pesticides because it is cruel and the bees will die.
Year 12 is a demanding year for parents and especially this year. Whether you've had other children go through, or this is your first experience, you will find yourself wondering how you can best give support.
Contemporary research tells us that students of all ages, including those in Year 11 and Year 12, do better when their parents engage in their learning in positive ways.
Other than being reliable cooks and uncomplaining taxi drivers, engagment is more likely to be effective in the senior secondary years when parents and carers take on the twin roles of encourager and collaborator.
In the encourager role, your job is to believe - and to communicate that you believe - they will be successful in their learning, and encourage them to stick at it and do their best. Nurturing their hopes and dreams, and talking about their plans for their future, are also part of the encourager role.
A Year 12 student will generally value parent support if it is encouraging, calm and respectful of them as independent thinkers and learners.
Children of all ages, but especially teenagers, benefit from being encouraged to set their own goals, problem-solve for themselves, assess the consequences of their decisions and actions, and learn from their successes and failures.
But they are best able to do these things when they have positive guidance and support from their parents. This is where the collaborator role comes in.
When parents use a ‘supportive parenting style’, they collaborate (work together) with their children to help them become independent and responsible.
Parents who use this style:
- Have high expectations for their children, meaning they strongly believe there children have potential and will achieve their potential.
- Give their children space to express their feelings and give them lots of emotional support.
- Encourage their children to be responsible and to think for themselves.
- Encourage adult/child conversation and collaboration.
- Outline boundaries and set rules but discuss and negotiate these first to help children become independent and accept responsibility for their choices and actions.
Some Collaborative Engagement Tips for Year 12 Parents
- Familiarise yourself with subject expectations, including recommended homework schedules and dates for major assignments and exams.
- Regularly ask what your teen is learning, what they are enjoying the most and what they are finding difficult.
- Talk about what learning strategies seem to be working best for each subject.
- Make connections between what your teen is learning at school and what's happening in the wider world.
- Give flexibility around family routines and household chores.
- Take up opportunities to meet with teachers, the SACE coordinator and/or career counsellor to discuss learning goals and progress.
- Discuss strategies with your teen for balancing study, work, social activities and physical exercise. Acknoweldge and support their need for 'downtime'.
- Look out for signs your teen may not be coping and suggest accessing school-based or other support services.
- Remind your teen you believe in them and their potential, and give positive feedback on their progress and results.
- Understand that unrealistic expectations and excessive pressure from parents don't help at all and may harm.
Perspectives of young people on parent engagement and doing well at school
While much research in this area has focussed on parent engagement in the primary school years, this project explored the views of secondary students about their parents’ engagement with their education and learning. The discussions highlight the particular issues faced by high school students who are maturing as autonomous individuals and taking on more responsibility for their own decisions and performance at school. The comments of students indicate the tensions between asserting their independence while still deeply wanting and needing the support and guidance of their parents in their education and decisions about the future.
The consultation confirmed that, for most students, support from their parents and families is a key factor in them doing well at school and an important foundation for their future. Students recognised the vital role that their parents and families play in their lives, and acknowledged that are invested in their success at school in a way that is different to their teachers and friends.
The Federation of Catholic School Parent Communities conducted a short survey a few years ago inviting Year 12 students in all school sectors to tell us what their family did or said that offered the best support for them in their final year. Their responses were consistent and frank and many points line up with what the research tells us too.
They wanted 'more space' from parent nagging, pestering, hassling and pressure, and not to be asked 'a million and one questions' about their grades or if they should be doing homework.
They said the most helpful things family members could do were to support them through words of encouragement, listening and practical help, especially with revision and proof reading. Having study food and tea and coffee delivered to their room rated highly too!
Many said the most important thing a family member could say was 'Do the best you can'. That's all that matters.' and reassure that the final ATAR score did not define them.
St Columba's in Yorketown received a PIE grant last year to refresh and re-launch its pre-school program, READY SET GO. Originally, READY SET GO was created to give families the opportunity to get to know the school and potentially increase enrolments through positive learning and relationship experiences. The P&F could see, however, that many four year olds were no longer able to attend because of their kindergarten arranements and the design of the program didn't really suit children under three.
The Little Jimmies program at St James School in Jamestown inspired St Columba's to create a new free program for parents and families with 0 - 5 year olds and St Columba's put a new spin on this by offering a wide range of play learning opportunities supported by the school's teachers.
To create a difference, we are looking to involve and rotate all the teachers in our school to each run a session in their teaching expertise. For example, Mrs Thompson will run a session involvving 'music pla' and Mrs Anderson will engage in a craft activity. Other areas of focus ill include incidental Maths, sensory play, physical education and dance. These sessions will encourage parent involement and we hope that in some instances they will be the ice-breaker that could create life-long friendship and support for each other.
And so, with a PIE grant of $1,200 supplied by Minister John Gardner through the Federation, the help of a school parent who was an experienced playgroup coordinator and other parents, plus the goodwill of school staff and the new Principal Scott March, Little Collies was born!
The playgroup kicked off in Term 2 and, across the rest of the year, over 40 families brought their children to it, many of whom were new to the Yorketown community. In Terms 3 & 4, the new Reception students and their teachers joined in from time to time. And when the funding set aside for 'start up' supplies of coffee and fruit ran out, the families brought fruit to share and the P& F bought a coffee machine - planning next year to recover some of the cost by charging a small fee for coffee.
In addition to the PIE grant, the school provided a qualified teacher and a curriculum-based Education Support Officer plus close to $1,500 for furniture and resources.
What an amazing collaboration! This is an excellent example of family-school-community partnership practice, with the school parents, teachers and students, young children and families, the school, and the local community all benefitting in different and important ways.
Our playgroup has been a huge success and an asset to our school community, and the support of the PIE grant funding has been instrumental in its success. The school is now able to offer a community hub for young parents to meet and make relationships. It helps our existing parents to have their toddlers engaged in our community before their eventual transition into Reception. For babies, toddlers and pre-school aged children it provides activities that enhance their fine and gross motor skills while building engagements with the school and their parents. We will continue in 2020 with a continued focus on supporting young families and toddlers in our community.
We'll let Principal Scott March and then a school parent close out the story in their own words:
There has been a new mother and her two children who have attended the last few weeks after finding out about us through the playgroup at YCCC. After going through a tough time she has moved here for a 'year of rejuvenation'. Already I've witnesses her form new connections and freinds through the playgroup. That's kind of what it's all about. I also gave her a tour through the church which she was fascinated by. I love that we have a program that offers something like this for a new family in the Southern Yorke Peninsula.
I have been a parent of the St Columba's community for 8 years now. It has been wonderful to see new faces back in the school again. I love seeing the new mums get together with their babies. It's been a breath of fresh air to our school. Erin our co-ordinator has done an amazing job with the space and activities initiated.
The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) has produced a new guide to help school leaders consider, plan, measure and evaluate their school’s progress towards implementation of successful and sustainable parent and family engagement practices.
A key outcome of a four-year parent engagement project funded by the Australian Government, it focuses on ‘the how’ rather than just ‘the why’, drawing from a wide body of research to provide evidence and examples of how to make engagement relevant and effective in school communities.
Federation vice president Caz Bosch, a member of the project’s expert reference group, has commended the guide saying, ‘it draws together and also extends what we know about engagement and partnership practice and, importantly, emphasises the importance of leadership commitment, capacity building and co-design action teams’.
Dr Peter Lind ended his term as the Registrar of the SA Teachers Registration Board in February, after a busy four months which saw almost 10,000 teachers re-registered to work in South Australian schools, including Catholic schools.
For the first time, teachers had to establish their identity as part of a new requirement from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, as well as gain a Working with Children Check (WWCC).
Reflecting back on his five years at the helm, Dr Lind said it had been an exciting time in the Australian education sector and he had been fortunate to be involved in and witness these important steps:
- amendments to the Teachers Registration and Standards Act (2004)
- the introduction of mandatory professional learning for all teachers
- the introduction of the Literacy and Numeracy Test for initial teacher education graduates
- the introduction of the Working with Children Check for teachers
- the Board gaining the power to suspend registration where a teacher was charged with a proscribed offence
- the National Review of Teacher Registration
- the initial collection of data for the Teacher Workforce Data Strategy which aims to build a nationwide picture of the teaching workforce.
He said, ‘all of these measures are contributing to improving teacher quality, strengthening child safety and streamlining the teacher registration process across Australia’ and added:
"The Teachers Registration Board will continue to work hard to ensure that all teachers working at school sites throughout South Australia not only meet their registration commitments but also actively seek out professional learning opportunities that facilitate their capacity to teach and broadens their knowledge of teaching and learning."
The Federation extends its gratitude and best wishes to Dr Lind and welcomes the new Registrar, Ms Leonie Paulson.
The guide gives families information, advice and resources to help their young people with disability prepare well for the transition from school to further study, work or community participation.
There are lots of decisions and preparations that all young people have to make when planning for their transition from school.
There are some extra things that young people with disability should consider, and some additional support that can help them to plan well for life after school.
The definition of disability under the Disability Discrimination Act is very broad. It includes learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia), chronic medical conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes, arthritis) and mental illnesses (e.g. depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder).
While young people may not like the term disability and may not want to be labelled, they need to accept that disability is a legally defined term and is used by many services and supports.
Young people don't have to tell anyone they have a disability. However, learning how to effectively disclose a disability to certain people is empowering as the decision to disclose or not is then really in their hands.
When young people choose to disclose, reasonable accommodations and adjustments can then be made by education institutions and workplaces, enabling them to have the same access and participation opportunities as other young people.
Research shows the best transition outcomes are achieved when young people make an early start, 'take the driver's seat' and there is active parent enagement in planning, major decisions and relevant activities.
Get ready early. Don’t leave it to the last few terms of school.
Have young person + parent planning meetings at school with the transition coordinator, school counsellor and support teachers.
Make a transition plan.
Know your rights about disclosure and if you decide to disclose, plan how you will do this.
As we go about our work may we bring our shared vision, belief, passion and interest to every task.
May each person's uniqueness and shared commitment around the purpose of our work lead us to be open to each other and to new ideas and possibilities.
May we have the courage to speak up, the patience to listen, and the confidence to use our knoweldge and skills to make a difference.
May we rise to the trust vested in us and value and appreciate each other's gifts and wisdom.
May we look for positive qualities in all things and be blessed with optimism.