Dear colleagues, parents and caregivers, and all members and friends of Catholic school communities,
It has been another great term in Catholic Education. As the ever-changing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact on many aspects of life, I am grateful that our schools have been able to operate safely and with limited restrictions, and I am inspired by the way staff and students have worked together to find new ways of participating in activities which have had to be re-thought.
One of these is the Angelico Exhibition, which is a phenomenal display of students’ talent and creativity each year, and in 2020 adopted a virtual display format. Congratulations to the Catholic Arts Team, all of the staff members and parents who have supported student artists, and of course to all of the students who submitted work. The exhibition is still online, and if you haven’t yet, I would encourage you to visit it. The Angelico Exhibition this year had a People’s Choice Award, and the voting has just recently closed – I am excited to be able to announce that Kiarra Gladish from St Jerome’s Primary School won this award in the primary years category for her painting ‘Jinkx, the Wellness Dog’, and Lewis Hodgson from Mother Teresa Catholic College won the secondary years category for his ‘Circus Fish’ sculpture. Congratulations Kiarra and Lewis!
Over the first few weeks of Term Three, we took an event which has traditionally brought Principals, school leadership teams and system leaders together in Perth, and changed it to a roadshow series. The Leaders Forum Roadshow enabled school leaders to gather in smaller numbers with colleagues from schools in their region, to discuss successes, challenges, and our collective vision for Catholic education. Thanks to all of the staff and host schools who made this possible, and to all of our Principals and school leaders for contributing to vibrant and important conversations and planning sessions during the roadshow.
One of the four Strategic Directions for Catholic Education is Stewardship, which outlines our commitment to the accessibility, affordability and sustainability of our system. Catholic schools educate approximately one out of every five school students in our State, with tens of thousands of families part of Catholic school communities. In recognition that many of these families have been affected financially this year by COVID-19, this Term we announced that fees will not be increased at CEWA schools for 2021. While school fee increases are kept as low as possible each year, freezing fees for the upcoming year is intended to provide some additional stability and certainty for families.
Providing outstanding learning outcomes and faith formation experiences for students is the core business of all Catholic schools. Sharing and showcasing exemplary work by our schools and educators across the State is an important part of collaboration and improvement for our system. For a number of years the LEAD Awards of Excellence have been one way in which we have acknowledged outstanding achievement. In 2020 we introduced the Quality Catholic Education (QCE) Awards as our new platform in this space. In recent weeks the judging for the inaugural QCE Awards took place, and I know that our judging panel was very impressed with the quality of the 83 entries received. Aside from this official judging process, the People’s Choice Award received more than 4000 votes before closing recently! While the winners won’t be announced until the presentation event in Term Four, it has been wonderful to share snapshots of the initiatives nominated via the CEWA Facebook page, and we will continue to share these stories until all entries have been featured.
A theme that came through unequivocally in the entries was the passion of our school communities and students to look after our common home, and so I would like to leave you with a very simple reflection of Pope Francis from Laudato Si:
“Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”
Our schools are doing wonderful work in putting these words into action, and in their school communities our students are learning to be leaders who are inspired by justice and care for others.
I would also like to join the Premier of WA, Mark McGowan in thanking and wishing our Year 12 students success as they conclude their time at their Catholic schools. Our Year 12 students are resilient, capable and generous young adults. As they leave an indelible mark in their respective schools, our prayers and best wishes are with them as they approach their exams and final assessments.
I hope that you enjoy the break, and we keep in our prayers all of those who might usually see family and loved ones from overseas or interstate during the holidays, but cannot at this time.