We have arrived at the end of another term, and I hope that wherever you are it has been a term full of learning, embracing new challenges and growing in friendships.
There is always so much going on in our Catholic schools, and with that, there are so many achievements and milestones to talk about. Catholic schools are diverse communities, and with so many different people contributing in a huge range of roles.
Last week we had the opportunity to recoginse the leadership and work of school boards at the Catholic Schools Board Chair Conference. This conference is held every two years, and it was wonderful to have more than 100 of our board chairs and board representatives discussing the important place of school boards, considering how boards strengthen our schools and system, and how they can best consider the current and future needs of school communities. I sincerely thank all who participated in the conference, and I acknowledge all who serve on Catholic school boards for their dedication and service.
One of the topics of conversation at the conference was the incorporation of our system. Over many years Catholic education in Western Australia grew through the work of school and Church leaders, religious orders and educators, with the support of and demand from families. In 1971 the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia (CECWA) was formed, bringing together schools across our State’s four dioceses into one system under the leadership of the Bishops. Now, in line with the recommendations following an extensive consultation process, our system will be incorporated as CEWA Limited from the beginning of 2020. The Bishops of Broome, Bunbury and Geraldton and the Archbishop of Perth will be the shareholders in this public company, and will appoint a board of commissioners.
In practice incorporation will have minimal impact on the day-to-day operation of our schools. What it will mean is that our system will be able to operate at a governance level with greater efficiency and transparency, with improved clarity around our processes in legal, risk and financial consideration.
No matter what else is going on, the end of another term is always a fitting time to reflect and celebrate recent events from across our system.
Last week the CEWA STEM Showcase was held at the Newman Siena Centre in Doubleview. Now in its second year, the showcase was a huge success with more than 900 primary school students attending. The showcase was the culmination of work by our staff and students in Terms Two and Three, and brought together students from many schools to share the excitement of STEM learning.
The Catholic Arts program has also been in full-swing this term, with thousands of students involved in the Catholic Performing Arts Festival – now in its 30th year. It was also an honour to attend the Catholic Education Carnevale held in Bunbury recently, the first time this event has been hosted outside of Perth, and a fitting acknowledgement that Catholic schools are vibrant learning environments supporting students to embrace their creativity and artistic expression right across the State.
We are proud of the dedication and professionalism of CEWA staff, who have such a critical role to play in the learning, development and wellbeing of students. The CECWA has scholarships available each year to staff, both school and office based, to support their ongoing learning and professional development. There are still scholarships available for 2020, with applications closing 11 October. If you have been thinking about further studies I encourage you to consider applying.
The Australian Catholic Youth Festival is also coming up in December, and will be held in Perth. This festival is due to be the largest gathering of the Church anywhere in Australia, and will be a fantastic and unique opportunity for our students. While there is bound to be a large cohort of festival-goers travelling from interstate, it would be great to see as many of our students participating as possible. It will an amazing time for young Catholic people to come together to celebrate and grow in their faith, to meet new people, and to be challenged to act and serve as Jesus calls them to, and registrations are open now.
I hope that the holidays are a time for you to feel refreshed and renewed, ahead of what’s sure to be a busy Term Four. In particular I wish our Year Twelve students all the best ahead of their final term!