- Welcome to our Term 3 Newsletter
- St Mary Magdalene School: The Dineen Award
- 2021 PIE Grant Applications
- New Education Act - Parents, Carers and Family Members Can Be Fined up to $2,500
- Better Support for Rural and Regional Students
- Growing Up Digital: Have Your Say!
- Mya in the Middle - Studying Year 12 During COVID-19
- Self Care for Parents During COVID-19
- Phone of Fone? Fonics or Phonics? Shoe or shoo? Meck, Shig and Meast?
- Gender Dysphoria and Autism
- Putting Children First
- VET Study Options & Careers: Do You Know Enough About These?
- Events & Resources for Parents
- Prayer for an End to the Pandemic
It's my turn to write the newsletter introduction so here goes! My main role in the Federation is as one of two vice presidents but I also volunteer in the office to help our part-time staff team get things done. It is a joy most often, but sometimes it's hard to keep all the balls in my life in the air and not let them fall to the ground. Timelines, deadlines, family, work and social priorities, dreams for the future. I'm sure you know what I mean.
In my paid work life I'm a psychologist so I really like doing hands on things for the Federation like putting together welcome packs for new Reception parents, taking photos at events, going out to visit schools and helping our newsletter coordinator with ideas and articles. But these last few weeks, I've also enjoyed running online tutorials on family-school-community partnerships and speaking with the state government about its plans to develop a state-wide parent engagement strategy.
The highlight in Terms 2 and 3 has been the online webinars we have offered free of charge to all Catholic school families and school staff in partnership with the Life Bouyancy Institute Foundation (LBIF). These have been popular and the feedback has been very positive and helpful.
The webinars have been a passion for our Parent Engagement Officers, especially Nicole Kovacevic, and we appreciate her enormous efforts to make them a success. We also thank Dr Ivan Raymond and his LBIF team for working in true partnership with us, and Principal David Mezenic and staff of Tennison Woods College in Mount Gambier for contributing their time and school-based insights.
We first approached the Life Bouyancy Foundation Institute when building a list of organisations and presenters after our 2019 consultations with school communities. The LBIF webinars are, in this respect, a key outcome of the Federation’s commitment to listen and respond to the needs that we learn about as we visit school communities throughout the state. We will continue to take this approach in the future, looking to fill access gaps and create cost-effective responses to school community and family needs.
In this newsletter, you will find the application form and guidelines for 2021 PIE Grant funding which the Federation manages on behalf of the Minister for Education John Gardner. Applications open next week on Monday 21st September and close on Monday 16th November.
The due date for evaluation reports for the current 2020 PIE Grants is also Monday 16th November which will hopefully mean there is no confusion about what is due by when. The template for these reports will be sent out to relevant schools shortly and our Parent Engagement Officers will be following up to double-check what has, and hasn't, been completed in these crazy COVID times.
Please note that non completion of a 2020 PIE grant does not preclude you from applying for a 2021 grant.
We hosted a very successful 'PIE Grant Success Stories' forum last week and sincerely thank Scott March and his team for travelling over from St Columba's Memorial School in Yorketown to present, and also Kerri Gould from Galilee Catholic School in Aldinga and Sarah Moody from the St Joseph's Education Centre in Enfield.
We intend to produce short videos on these success stories and post them on our website early in Term 4. Case studies are also being written up on St Columba's and Galilee to share with the Minister and these will also be posted on our website.
We are especially grateful to the school communities that have supported us through affiliation this year, but also to all school staff, parents and education stakeholders who have welcomed and supported our work.
It is many months since I've seen my son (a Rostrevor graduate), mother and other members of my small family and this weighs on me daily. I regularly pray the pilgrim's prayer I found left (for me?) on a bedside table when walking the Camino in Spain with my sister in family grief: God before me, God behind me, God beside me, God all around me. I started praying this for myself but soon realised I needed to extend that so also pray God before us, God behind us, God beside us, God inside us. It calms my mind, sends me to sleep and gives me conviction for my next day.
It is interesting that children have apparently also come to write much more about 'we' and 'us' than 'I' and 'me' during COVID. This is a good thing and I hope it lasts.
Best & Bless
Lisa Kelly and Kerryn Chambers (St Mary Magdalene's Community Hubs Officer).
Last term, we announced that St Mary Magdalene's School had been awarded the inaugural Dineen Encouragement Award for its thoughtful and well planned 'whole of community' effort to support its students' social and emotional development.
What impressed us most was the time and effort the school put in to create interest in its event and achieve a record turnout of parents/carers, staff, board members, and visitors from other local Catholic schools. It then cemented this success by offering parents two additional sessions with the school leadership and another with the school counsellor.
Federation Parent Engagement Officer, Lisa Kelly, visited the school to officially present the award in the first week of Term 3.
'It is an honour to be presenting this award to such a worthy recipient. The Federation's passion for parent engagement within children's education is what drives us. We found your school's planning and effort in raising community awareness of your PIE Grant Project outstanding, as your tireless work attracted significant numbers of not only your school community, but the wider community. This was viewed by the Federation Council as a great accomplishment."
Applications for PIE (Parent Initiatives in Education) grants for 2021 open next week on Monday 21st September and close on Monday 16th November.
The Federation is pleased to offer and manage these on behalf of the Minister for Education John Gardner and encourages all school communities to consider how they might extend, embed or elevate their approaches to:
- Inclusive parent and family involvement in school decision-making processes (e.g. governance, curriculum, strategic planning, school improvement).
- School-home relationships and partnership building (e.g. welcoming and supporting families to engage in their children's learning at early learning, primary and secondary school levels; linking school-based learning to learning at home; building the capacity of parents and educators to partner; building the capacity of families to support children's development, wellbeing and carer dreams).
- School-community relationships and partnerships that increase students' education opportunities and outcomes and connect families to communities.
The Federation will be following up with principal and parent leaders early in Term 4 and is always available to discuss and help to shape ideas without giving unfair advantage.
Our best advice is to take the time to think through what you want to do and why (e.g. why, exactly, you want to change something and what, exactly, you expect to happen if your change plan works).
A second piece of advice is to make sure you read the guidelines so that you understand what can and can't be funded, and can think about extra resources that might be needed to make your change plan happen.
We are only ever a phone call or an email away and, equally, are happy to come out consult with you.
This new Act aims to strengthen the state government’s commitment to focus on the best interests of each child. It mainly applies to government schools but some sections also apply to non-government schools, preschools and early learning centres (ELCs) on non-government school premises.
A major change is that there are new protections for ALL staff employed in non-government (and government) school settings and tougher penalties for offensive and threatening behaviour towards staff by parents, carers, other family and community members:
- Behaving in an offensive or threatening manner on school, preschool and ELC premises can lead to a maximum penalty of $2,500.
- Using abusive, threatening or insulting language, or behaving in an offensive or threatening manner to any staff member acting in the course of their duties on or off the premises can lead to a maximum penalty of $2,500.
The Act gives authorised staff the power to completely ban someone from the premises for up to 3 months, or place conditions on their entry and participation. Failure to comply with a barring notice can lead to a further maximum penalty of $2500.00.
Note: This part of the Act does not cover offensive or threatening behaviour between staff members, or by students/children.
What Does this Mean for Parents and Carers with Children in Catholic Schools?
Catholic Education SA (CESA) will need to provide policy guidance to school staff, and relevant information and support to parents/carers, volunteers, sports coaches and whole school communities but it will take time to do this.
We asked CESA Assistant Director Bruno Vieceli to up date us on how CESA is responding and, in reply, he said:
'CESA is currently involved in a consultation process with the Department for Education and the Association of Independent Schools South Australia to work through the details in response to this and other clauses in the Act and the development of the Regulations under the Act.
Our position is that we absolutely support strategies to ensure schools are safe environments for students, staff, families and visitors and among other things this includes responding to offensive and threatening behavior by parent, carers, family and community members towards school, preschool, OSHC and ELC staff, students, families and visitors.
At this stage there are a number of details in relation to this specific clause that need to be finalised. These include the delegations of authority and responsibilities.
While CESA supports the intent of the clause, that is to provide safety and protection in more extreme circumstances, our focus is on addressing the antecedents (the things leading) to such behaviors. Hence a focus on the building of healthy, positive relationships between schools and families, underpinned by mutual respect, common values and effective and timely communication.'
The Department of Education has advised us that new parent and family resources will be produced to support understanding of this section of the act and make clear that it covers language in emails/letters and on social media as well as in face to face contexts. It says it will also work with CESA to provide examples of explanatory communications that can be shared with Catholic school communities.
It is well known that people who live in rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas don't have the same education opportunities and outcomes as those living in metro areas.
The fact that RRR Australians have lower participation rates in higher-level tertiary qualifications (Certificate IV and above), and are 40% less likely to achieve one, is a major concern for the federal government.
Tertiary education covers all vocational education training (VET) and higher education. Higher-level tertiary education refers to Certificate IV and above qualifications.
Through its National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (2019), the federal government is aiming to half the tertiary participation and attainment differences between RRR and metro students by 2030.
It says the success of the strategy will rely on all levels of government, education providers, employers, communities and families working together with focus and energy.
The national strategy is intended to address five issues:
Access, opportunity and choice: While there are different labour market needs in RRR areas (e.g. more demand for technical and trade jobs), RRR individuals must have the opportunity to access all types of tertiary education and more fields of study. This includes having more opportunities to articulate from lower level VET qualifications to higher level ones and receive recognition for prior learning.
Student support: There is not enough support for RRR individuals wanting to participate in tertiary education, and especially for those who relocate to undertake university study. Financial support needs to improve. So must student support services to assist with emotional, social, academic, work and family challenges.
Aspiration, career advice and schooling: RRR students struggle to maintain and broaden their aspirations through school and into tertiary education due to personal choice, school experiences, family views/expectations, perceptions of local job opportunities and concerns about cost. Early and ongoing access to quality career advice is generally poor. While VET in Schools can also broaden understanding of career choices/options and provide pathways to further study and employment, access and quality varies from school to school.
Equity groups: RRR students are formally recognised as an equity group but there are students within this group who experience additional, compounding challenges. Over 30% of RRR students are from low SES backgrounds for example and, in recent times, the number of applications from, and offers to, Indigenous students to attend university has declined. Extra tailored support for these students and for RRR students with disability is required.
Regional development: Regional communities support their people and make important economic, social and cultural contributions. Addtional to this, regionally-based tertiary education providers have a positive impact on educational aspiration and enhance long-term regional development and local industries. More must be done to maximise the benefits of regionally-based tertiary education.
Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, announced in June that a further $400 million is being provided to increase opportunities for RRR students.
The new funding includes:
- $5,000 for students from outer regional and remote areas to help pay relocation costs when they move to study a Certificate IV qualification or higher, plus improvements to the Fares Allowance to make it easier for students to travel home during their first year of study.
- $500 million to universities for programs that support Indigenous, regional and low SES students.
- $21 million to establish new regional university centres.
- The appointment of Regional Education Commissioner to ensure there is a national focus on education, training and research specifically for RRR areas.
Note: The National Careers Institute was established last year to provide a single, independent and impartial government source of careers information. It has a particular focus on marketing and promoting vocational careers and pathways.
Are you a parent, carer or grandparent of a child aged 5 to 17?
Do you wonder how the digital media and technologies children are growing up with might affect their wellbeing, health and learning?
If your anwer is YES and YES, you might like to complete this survey.
The Gonski Institute of Education (University of NSW) is working on a project called Growing Up Digital in Australia to understand how living in a digital world is affecting children's health, wellbeing and learning.
In the first stage, almost 2,000 educators participated in a survey. Now the Institute is inviting parents and carers to share their views.
If you would like to have your say, the link in the blue box below will take you to the website.
Then look for the yellow box which says Complete the Phase 2 survey.
The survey closes on October 11 2020 and who knows? You might even be lucky enough to win a $100 Coles Myer gift card.
Mya's mum, Ros, said it had been a little stressful for her too. She could see that there were so many unknowns and the year was not going to unfold as planned. She said even with homeschooling being a possibility, the first months of the pandemic were an unsettling time.
Like many Year 12s, Mya has ambitions for next year, hers being to study a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education which requires an ATAR of 80. She knew she would have to work hard and that her teachers' support would be very important. Mya said when her school shut, she found it hard to get the support she felt she needed despite having access to Zoom calls and 'the learning and support materials weren't the same'. Mya was worried about her grades and if they would suffer during this time.
"The scariest part of this was not knowing how long the zoom calls would last, as again, they have minimal benefits compared to face to face learning"
When asked how COVID 19 has affected the way she usually studies, Mya explained that usually she would keep a healthy balance between social activities, homework and her part-time job. However, like many other workers, Mya's job hours decreased and social activities were unable to go ahead. As a result, Mya said her study time increased to a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 5 hours of additional study time a day. She said this was beneficial.
Ros mentioned that the only different strategy for supporting Mya during this time was constantly encouraging her and reminding her that SACE would make adjustments to accommodate her through finishing her final year.
Of course there is more to Year 12 than just study and Mya was disappointed that many of St Mark's Year 12 traditions like the retreat, final candle mass, and even graduation would perhaps not go ahead. But she says these are back on the cards now 'which is exciting and gives us students something to work for and look forwad to'.
There is nearly always a silver lining in difficult times and, for Mya, it was her personal support system that helped her to keep going.
"Luckily I have a big family and circle of friends, both of which often lifted my spirits and encouraged me to keep going".
Thank you to Mya and Ros for taking the time to answer our questions. A huge GOOD LUCK wish to Mya and all the other Year 12s at St Mark's and around the state as you head to the finish line and a HUGE PRAISE to parents, families and teachers for walking alongside.
As parents, we often put our own needs aside to focus on caring for and supporting our children. For many of us, COVID-19 has magnified our family challenges, and our own needs have taken a further step backwards.
Making time to care for ourselves so that we can parent effectively and maintain our own health is a no brainer but still we struggle.
In this article we look at some practical advice that parents are being offered.
Connect with your faith in new ways
Many of us are yearning to re-connect with our faith communities but are anxious about being with lots of other people or social distancing rules are making it hard. There's been lots of encouragement to connect in different ways, including by watching live streamings of Mass and other church services, using online prayer resources and creating new family prayer routines.
It may seem strange, but just like at-home workers are being advised to dress for work and not hang around in tracky pants and pyjamas, it has been suggested that online Mass will be more meaningful if you dress up like you would if you were attending Mass in person. Other suggestions for 'participating fully from a distance' are to turn off your devices, light a candle and place it next to an open Bible, and to make the effort to stand when prompted.
Creating your own sacred space at home may also help to keep God present as you pray and reflect on your days, needs, fears, family issues and priorities.
Look after your physical and mental health
COVID-19 has brought additional stress and less structure to our lives. Lots of people are saying they've put on weight, are eating more junk food, keep promising themselves they'll exercise more but don't, and are spending hours and hours on social media and watching Netflix. How easy is it to do things that feel good in the moment but are not helpful or healthy in the long term?
The advice from some experts is to 'be intentional' (thoughtful and deliberate) about your physical and mental health. Did you hear about the guy who had to quarantine for 14 days and ran a half marathon in his room (about 22 kilometres). That's an example of being intentional, but not one most of us can get our head around.
Smiling Mind (a mental health organisation mainly for youth) says it's really important to 'give your brain a break' every time you feel things are starting to get on top of you. They say any type of physical exercsie will help to protect you against mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and this includes cranking up some music and dancing around the house for a few minutes.
Walking is particularly good because it is easy to get to (!), free, connects you to your community and the environment, protects your joints and reduces excess body fat.
Smiling Mind encourages people of all ages to practise mindfulness for 10 minutes a day. Developed by pscyhologists and educators, its app is free and can be used on any device.
Monitor your own media exposure - not just your children's
Being exposed to bad news, fake news and distressing stories can increase our anxiety and decrease our optimism and sense of hope pretty quickly. Turn off the news, engage less in social media, don't check on the daily news about COVID-19. Watch a family comedy.
Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Be kind and forgiving to yourself if you can't meet the usual expectations.
Children thrive when they have structure and routines and so do many adults. Setting up spaces in your home for study, work and prayer - and keeping them organised - will convey a sense of purpose and normality. Setting aside a regular time each day to use the Smiling Mind app or others like moodgym is a discipline worth practising for yourself and encouraging in your children. And don't forget to bring back rules about TV and device use for everyone in the family if you haven't already.
Seek professional help for yourself before you think you really need it
Further information is available at:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
What Parents Might Like to Know about Phonics and Learning to Read
The federal government’s Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was launched this month. Similar to the one South Australian introduced in 2018, it will help teachers and parents to better understand a child’s reading level and any extra help they might need.
In supporting the launch of the national Phonics Check, SA Minister for Education John Gardner said parents have the right to expect their children are receiving high quality reading instruction and phonics checks help schools to meet this expectation.
What is Phonics?
Children need to master skills like phonemic awareness, phonics, and comprehension to become good readers who know lots of words and can make sense of what they are reading.
Phonemic awareness is about learning the basic sounds (called phonemes) in words. It involves hearing (using our ears) and is the foundation for phonics.
Phonemes are the basic sounds that make up words (for example ‘f’ as in fan, cliff, phone, laugh, often). There are 44 phonemes in the English language.
Phonics is about learning the relationship between the basic sounds in words and the written letters or letter combinations that represent them in the alphabet. Phonics visually introduces children to letters and incorporates the sounds they have learnt. It involves seeing and hearing (using our eyes and ears) and is the foundation for learning to read and spell well.
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. By themselves, or in combination, these letters represent the 44 phonemes in the English language.
Phonics teaches children to read by ‘decoding’ words. This means they learn how to:
- recognise the sounds that each individual letter in the alphabet makes
- identify the sounds that combinations of letters make (e.g. sh, oo, ew, ough)
- ‘blend’ these sounds together from left to right to make a word (e.g. th-r-ew = threw).
With this knowledge, children can then decode unfamiliar words and so they become more confident and fluent in their reading.
Why do Phonics Checks have Pretend Words?
The South Australian and national Phonics Checks have a mix of real and pretend words (e.g. meck, shig, meast). The pretend words are included to make sure that children are decoding words using their phonic skills and are not just relying on their memory.
Not Everyone Agrees with Phonics Checks
- The check isn't needed because teachers already know which children are struggling.
- The check means teachers aren’t being trusted to do their job properly.
- Teachers don’t need ‘another test’, they just need more resources for ‘at risk’ children.
- Learning to read is like learning to speak and so it is best for children to be ‘immersed in a world of language’ and encouraged to ‘read for meaning’ (e.g. work out unfamiliar words in the context of the other words around them rather than decoding them).
- There is strong evidence that phonics, taught in a 'systematic' way, is the best way to teach young children to read and is especially helpful for students aged 5 – 7.
- Phonics is essential because children must be able to accurately read words to achieve meaning.
- Phonics allows children to become independent readers and spellers from an early age.
- Children who learn to decode early on are likely to read more, and achieve higher reading scores, as they progress through school.
- Phonics should always be taught as part of a well-rounded reading program so that the needs of children with different learning styles, certain disabilities and learning disorders, and from non-English speaking cultures are catered for.
- The check is not a test and it is unhelpful to say it is. It is a tool for better understanding where children are at, and what extra assistance they might need to become good readers.
What Does the Federation of Catholic School Parent Communities Think?
Learning to read is a complicated process and, as parents, we rely on the expertise of teachers to make sure our children become good readers in the early years of school.
To do well in school and after leaving school, our children must be able to read fluently and understand what they are reading. It is unacceptable that any child could be in Year 3, 5, 7 or 9 and not have the minimum literacy skills the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) says are needed to progress through school and life. But plenty of children don't have these skills.
Teachers shouldn’t worry too much about not being trusted to do their job. As parents, we want our children’s teachers to succeed in their teaching almost as much as we want our children to succeed in their learning. These two things are related.
We believe phonics checks can encourage teachers and families to have useful conversations and better connect learning at school with learning at home.
And we are pleased that phonics will soon be a compulsory part of undergraduate teaching degrees as this means graduate teachers will be more competent in, and committed to, teaching it.
The federal government's new Literacy Hub has some good information about how families can help children use phonics to learn to read and a free reading awareness check.
These resources can also help parents and carers to talk about their children’s literacy experiences and needs with teachers, and find out more about how literacy is being taught.
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is the distress a person feels when they do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth (their biological sex).
Some people experience low-level distress. Others experience serious distress, anxiety and emotional pain.
Gender dysphoria is not a mental health condition. But sometimes the mismatch between the body a person is born with, and the gender they identify with, is so distressing that serious mental health issues like anxiety, depression, self-harm and even suicide occur (HealthDirect).
While young children may experience gender dysphoria, it can be especially distressing during puberty when physical features change, and hormones and emotions run wild.
Transgender, trans and gender-diverse are preffered terms for describing children and adults whose gender identity is different to their birth gender.
Gender dysphoria and autism spectrum disorder
Reputable studies from around the world have shown that:
- Trans adults are more likely than other adults to be clinically diagnosed with ASD.
- Trans adults with ASD are more likely than other adults to experience significant gender dysphoria.
- Young people with ASD are more likely to be gender-diverse than other young people.
- Young people with ASD are more likely to experience gender dysphoria than other young people.
Concerns about the number of teenagers with ASD presenting to Australian gender clinics have recently been raised in the media.
While just 3% of our young people are thought to be autistic, The Australian reported in June that 45% of patients in Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital clinic showed mild to severe autism features. The average patient age was just under 14, and almost three quarters of them were girls. At the Perth Children's Hospital clinic, where the average patient age was just under 15, almost 50% showed mild to severe autistic features.
Australian psychologist and autism expert Tony Attwood worries that young people on the spectrum who rush to transition (affirm) their gender may experience mental ill health later on. He says transitioning is more likely to be a successful treatment if the process leading up to it has been unhurried and thoughtful.
Professor Attwood has been criticised for his views on how autism characteristics like a one-track mind and impulsiveness may help to explain why autistic teens are over-represented in gender clinics, and why changing gender is not necessarily the right solution for them. This is not surprising because gender identity and gender transition are very political, personal and emotional topics.
Gender-diverse teens with ASD have rarely been involved in research and so a recent study led by John Strang, an American neorospychologist and autism expert, is interesting. This involved 22 young people under the age of 20 who had clinical diagnoses of both autism and gender dysphoria and were accessing gender services. Their parents were also involved.
The aim of the two year study was to track the young people's gender identities, and understand their experiences and concerns through in-depth interviews.
Many described how their gender identity had developed over time, with their memories of gender exploration going back to primary school.
Most said they felt discomfort exploring and expressing their gender because they were worried about bias and harassment.
Some spoke of their difficulties in talking about their gender identity and self-advocating for their gender due to autism-related social communication differences.
I guess I'm not good at explaining it [gender] much to people and when people ask questions I'm often overwhelmed by the questions.
Some worried that their gender identity had been, or would be, questioned because of their autism diagnosis.
I do occasionally worry that thinking that I'm trans is going to be judged around the lens of 'probably some autistic thing' against, if people see me as autistic.
The researchers found that these young people described their gender dysphoria experiences in much the same ways as other transgender and gender-diverse teens. Combined with the fact that most had experienced gender noncomformity for years, the researchers concluded their gender diversity was not 'obsessonal'.
From a mental health perspective, John Strang says one of the most protective factors for all gender-diverse young people, and perhaps even more so for those on the spectrum, is understanding and support from the important people in their lives.
He also says that ASD-informed gender assessments must be developed and that teens on the spectrum must be given 'ample opportunities over time' to express themselves when they present for clinical gender evaluations.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt ruled out a national inquiry into gender clinics earlier this year following advice that the media attention would be harmful.
Minister Hunt, who has declined to endorse the practice of gender affirming treatment, has referred concerns about under-18 gender dysphoria treatment to the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. An Australia-wide framework for gender services and funding for research on the long-term outcomes for young people with dysphoria will be considered.
Health Direct is an online service funded by the Australian and state/territory governments. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gender-dysphoria
The 30th anniversary of National Child Protection Week was marked last week with the theme Putting Children First.
This theme inspired the first campaign in 1990 which aimed to bring child abuse and neglect out of the shadows and put children's wellbeing on the national agenda.
Since then, putting children first has constantly been recognised as an important pillar for boosting the wellbeing of all Australian children.
Last year's campaign focused on putting children's needs at the centre of parenting conversations, and engaging everyone in conversations about caring for children.
This year, all Australians were encouraged to look at how they can prioritise children in their lives and communities.
A fabulous poster was created to spark conversations about building communities that will help children to thrive and, of course, this can be used at any time during the year.
When launching National Child Protection Week in South Australia, Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson announced the government had negotiated 100 scholarships with Catholic Education SA so that children and young people in care would have more choice in their schooling options.
Are you having family conversations about secondary school subject selection, post-school study options, jobs and careers?
Do you feel that you know enough about work-related education and skills training (VET) to help your children make good decisions?
Are you wondering - and worrying - about what might make best sense in the unpredictable work world that COVID-19 has created?
A huge range of VET courses are available in the Catholic sector through the VET in Schools Program, Cardijn College's Marcellin Campus and St Patrick's Technical College which is opening up to Year 10 students in 2021. Other courses are available to students and school leavers through TAFE SA and private Registered Training Organisations like Australian Workplace Training.
The VET in Schools program means students can get a taste for a work area they are interested in and gain, or make progress towards, a nationally recognised VET qualification (e.g. a Certificate 1, 11 or 111). As well, this study can count towards their SACE.
VET qualifications and units completed in school help school leavers find employment and gain access to further study including university.
The state government's Training Guarentee for SACE Students (TGSS) means that students who are 16 years+ and studying a TGSS course (Certificate 111 qualification pathway at school) are guaranteed a place at TAFE SA to finish the qualification once their SACE has been completed. Some conditions are attached to the guarantee (e.g. about hours spent in work placements) so it is wise for students and families to speak with their school's VET coordinator and/or career counsellor early on.
Another state government initiative, Work Ready, provides funding for disadvantaged groups, strategic industries and regional locations in South Australia. It allows eligible students to enrol in subsidised VET courses (Certificate 11 level and above) and access employment programs that connect with jobs in local areas (e.g. Port Pirie, Gawler, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and Adelaide).
Useful websites and webinars
Courses.com.au is fantastic. It has great information on job pathways (browse by industry), careers, courses and government funded courses (SA - Work Ready).
Skills SA has good information on VET courses, apprenticeships and studying VET in school (be sure to click on the link: Where are the jobs?). It also allows you to search for courses that are being subsidised in areas expected to see job growth (e.g. cybersecurity, defence, health and aged care, ICT).
The Navel Shipbuilding College offers regular webinars to give job seekers, students and parents an understnading of the broad range of career opportunities that are available in this job gowth area.
'VET Mythbusters: A Parent Guide to Vocational Education and Training', a webinar hosted by the Australian Parents Council as part of the 2020 National Skills Week is also worth listening to.
eSafety's Parent Guide to Popular Apps
The final free webinar for parents and carers is being held on Thursday 17th September at 3.30pm South Australian time.
It's a pity the time isn't more convenient for us as the topic is popular apps - TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
After parents and schools were urged last week to protect children from watching a graphic live suicide clip on TikTok, no doubt many of us feel a bit out of our depth.
The eSafety office has also published these resources to help families:
God of Mercy,
We come to you in our weakness.
We come to you in our fear.
We come to you with trust.
For you alone are our hope.
We place before you this pandemic
And turn to you in our time of need.
Give wisdom to the health workers,
And understanding to scientists.
Endow carers with compassion
And give healing to the sick.
Protect those most at risk
And comfort the bereaved.
Grant the deceased eternal life,
Stabilise our communities,
Unite us all in compassion,
Remove fear from our lives,
Fill us with confidence in your mercy.