Australian Catholic Schools Why We Have Them? What They Aim To Achieve?
Catholic schools have been a major component of Australian education for over 175 years. During that time they have adapted to changing circumstances and changing times. In recent decades, as both the Church and Australian society have changed, Catholic schools have continued to develop and to grow in quality and public esteem.
Compared to previous generations, today’s Australian Catholic schools are relatively well equipped and staffed by well-qualified, committed teachers. Parents, students and staff of Catholic school strive to be Christ-centred communities which witness to the Faith. Like all Australian schools, Catholic schools are accountable to governments and their local communities for meeting all the teaching and learning requirements of the state. They also have distinctive goals and features which derive from a core of philosophical and theological truths which are central to their character and mission. They are highly regarded by the Australian community.
Catholic schools will strive to continue to meet the needs of the Australian people as they begin to confront the major national challenges such as Reconciliation and the demand for greater social equity. It is therefore timely to take stock of Catholic schools in Australia and the ways in which they are still relevant to meeting the needs of students and parents, the Catholic community and Australian society. To do so is to take up such major challenges as that recently issued by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education in its document The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium (1997), namely to “devote careful attention to certain fundamental characteristics of the Catholic school, which are of great importance if its educational activity is to be effectual in the Church and in society” (#4).
Catholic schools in Australia operate in an ever-changing political and social context which shapes both the way they are organised and function, and their teaching and learning priorities. At present, Catholic schools are especially challenged by a range of issues emanating from Australia’s changing place in the world and its struggle for self-identity, as well as the theological and ecclesial transformations of the post-Vatican II Church. In this rapidly developing environment the Catholic school provides a potential source of stability and vision.
Catholic schools seek to contribute to the creation of an Australian community that is highly educated, skilled and cultured with an ability to promote and embrace a critical analysis of social issues, the expansion of knowledge and the pursuit of truth. Such a community will be marked by a vigorous intellectual and cultural life, accessible to all. Education has individual and private benefits, but it is also very much a public good whose benefits enhance the whole community. Catholic schools emphasise the contribution of education to the common good of the Australian community.
It is therefore timely to stress some of the fundamentals of Catholic education: education is for the person and for society, for inviting students to find meaning in their lives through forming a mature relationship with their God, for developing communal obligations and aspirations. The challenges for Catholic schools will continue to change, but their overall goals and ethos will remain and be incorporated into a new vision which is more appropriate to the multicultural and pluralistic faith dimensions of modern Australian society.
Why do we have Catholic Schools?
- contribute to the Church’s mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ;
- offer the Catholic community and the people of Australia an educational foundation for life to the full, meaning the full development of the person – intellectually, spiritually, physically, morally and emotionally;
- fulfil parents’ rights in a democratic, free society to choose the schooling for their children which reflects their own values, beliefs and hopes as Australians; and
- have proven over successive generations that they contribute significantly to the development of the Australian community.
Who Catholic Schools are for?
Catholic children who, through baptism, have a right to an education in the Catholic faith in a Catholic school.
Parents and guardians who wish to entrust their children’s future to Catholic schools because of their explicit goals and acknowledged educational quality.
What is distinctive about Catholic Schools?
- Promoting a particular view of the person, the community, the nation and the world, centred on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.
- Challenging students to find, through God, meaning and value in their lives.
- Forming an integral part of a church community in which all generations live, worship and grow together.
- Critiquing our culture, and challenging community values, as an integral part of their Gospel mission.
- Aiming to be welcoming and reflective communities whose most distinctive sign is the discernment of God’s presence and their spiritual life.
- Espousing values which unite Australia by promoting a citizenship infused by a commitment to social justice.
- Encouraging students to develop an international perspective on their own country and how their country can identify and respond justly to its international obligations.
- Developing a sense of historical perspective by reflecting on the development of societies and cultures over time, a story of human frailty but of continual efforts to live the Gospel message.
- Giving priority to educating the spiritually and financially poor and being their advocates.
What Catholic schools do?
- challenge students to discover God and to make value of their lives;
- encourage students to appreciate the intrinsic worth of who they are now and where they are now;
- utilise students’ experience as the basis for developing a synthesis of faith and culture, and of faith and life;
- seek to provide a high-quality academic and vocational education for all their students, giving due emphasis to the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills required for both learning and life;
- actively and systematically promote the faith development of students in a conducive environment;
- provide religious education programs which make students knowledgable about their faith;
- pray and celebrate the Eucharist in community;
- emphasise personal and social development as fundamental enduring values and requirements in an ever-changing world;
- take an international perspective on human development based on cooperation and collaboration, not competition;
- give priority to activities involving active community service and issues of social justice;
- strive to be a welcoming and effective community and provide a genuine experience of community for students, teachers, parents and priests;
- form part of an active ministry which reaches out to parents and responds to their expectations;
- view their teachers as being committed to and interested in the whole development of their students in a faith context;
- acknowledge, promote and celebrate the particular God-given gifts of each student; and
- encourage engagement and commitment by students, teachers, parents and priests.
What contribution do Catholic schools make?
- educate young Australians to be highly skilled, informed, tolerant, open and just;
- enhance, by emphasising the common good, the development of Australia and the building and improvement of a socially just Australian society that is multicultural and multi-faith;
- offer a voice which challenges current and future generations to reflect on their world in the light of Christ’s message;
- provide a perspective which extends beyond national and temporal borders, encouraging students to have an open mind on contemporary issues as a foundation for becoming good Australian and world citizens;
- provide the potential to combine the spirituality of our Indigenous people and the different spiritual traditions of the various migrant communities since 1788, as a basis for valuing our diversity and promoting social justice; and
- encourage and provide a basis for students to seek to develop their relationship with their God and to continue their faith journey throughout their lives.
Catholic schools in Australia continue to respond to, and to serve, the needs of the parents who seek a Catholic education for their children. In the building up of Christ’s Kingdom and Australian society, Catholic schools play a deliberate and vital role. As explicitly acknowledged in The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium (1997), “… now, as in the past, the Catholic school must be able to speak for itself effectively and convincingly. It is not merely a question of adaptation, but of missionary thrust, the fundamental duty to evangelise, to go toward men and women wherever they are, so that they may receive the gift of salvation” (# 3). This document is designed to show how the Australian Catholic school is able to “speak for itself effectively and convincingly”, and to highlight the fact that “the work of the school is irreplaceable and the investment of human and material resources in the school becomes a prophetic choice” (# 21).
National Catholic Education Commission
Have you had a peek at our Sacred Space area on the front page of this website? Here you will find, prayers for everyday, Sunday Gospel readings each week, some interesting youtube speakers and more.
We are not grains of sand upon the shore
buffeted by sea and storm,
we are individuals loved by God
more intimately than we could ever know.
Though from a distance
we seem insignificant and frail
the creating breath that formed us
now lives in and sustains us.
Thank you, Saving God
made known to us in Jesus Christ
not only by his words
but through his sacrificial life.
May our lives reflect
not only his love
but your glory
and may the whole earth sing your praises.
School reports will come home with your child on Friday (tomorrow). A double set of reports has been made for families where Mum and Dad no longer live in the same family home ( the extra copy will be sent home by post).
Children have been reminded that they are not to open reports without a parent present.
Please make sure that you listen to the great advice by Michael Grose in relation to reading school reports and keeping the grades in perspective (see Principal posts on this website).
It is important to read reports carefully, to help your child celebrate the positives and to encourage them to keep working hard on those aspects of their learning that are challenging.
If you have any questions or concerns related to your child’s report, please feel free to email or make an appointment with your class teacher early next term.
Please remember that the report is just one aspect of a much bigger picture. The more we can continue to work together to help your child ‘fill in the pieces of the learning jigsaw puzzle’, the better.
As the term draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all most sincerely for yet another great ten weeks here at St Emilie’s! Each person in our school makes a difference and you are sincerely thanked for the contribution you are making as a parent and as a partner in our school community.
The term has once again seen you as parents, generously helping (and investing in your children) in a wide variety of ways here at school, including …
Attending the Anzac Day Service and morning tea; being a classroom helper; accompanying classes on excursions; checking your Year 6 child’s camp gear; coming along to assembly and the K/PP Mother’s Day Pamper morning; cheering and supporting at the Eagle’s Cup on a Friday despite wet conditions; attending P&F or Board meetings; meeting on smaller work parties; giving wise counsel at the time of Naplan testing; attending a parent/teacher meeting; coming along to a Three-Way interview; coming back to pick up your child from Dance Troupe on a Thursday; popping in before work to watch your child’s assembly on a Friday; organising to come along for a sibling Kindy interview; attending the parent ‘Human Sexuality’ talk; talking about various opportunities your children have had to learn new things with the Dockers; the Eagles; the Circus Troupe; class excursions and incursions; being a Quiz Night helper; picking up children from extra-curricular soccer; tennis or music lessons; buying tickets to the Quiz Night; donating prizes; seeking out donations; cooking for the P&F lunch; coming along to the St Emilie de Vialar Feast Day Mass; attending the Parent /Child Eucharist Workshop; meeting up with other parents at a coffee morning; being patient at drive through; offering to share lifts with other parents; covering library books; warmly greeting your class teachers, parents and others you meet on your way in and out of our school; reaching out to those families who have had a baby; lost a relative; or who are ‘doing it tough’ in some way or other ….
Thank you very much for your ongoing support, enthusiasm, generosity and commitment to St Emilie’s community – for the things we see you say and do, and the things we don’t, we very much appreciate it all; and know that it really helps to contribute to the colour; warmth and vibrancy of our whole school community.
In addition, at home when you have…
Listened and empathized; taken ‘the higher ground’ and given measured and wise advice around a friendship issue back at school; thanked a staff member for their efforts; counselled your child about the importance of establishing a routine, some organisational skills and responsibility around their purposeful practice (homework); supported the school uniform policy by checking what your child is wearing each day; packed a healthy lunchbox; made sure your child is eating a healthy breakfast every morning; ensured that they are getting enough sleep each night; mindfully monitored TV /movie viewing; computer and phone usage; made time for talking; riding a bike; going for a walk to the park with your child; visited an elderly relative or neighbour; gone to Mass together and prayed for others in need as a family; stayed calm when under pressure; invested in your parenting by reading a book; attending a course; or reading a parenting blog or article on the Parent Resources area on this website; spoken respectfully; calmly and justly about others – face to face; online or over the phone; whether it be about a child; staff member or a parent …. all these things are AN INVESTMENT in your child’s well-being… they are a gift you give to your child, as you MODEL what it is to be a good parent…
A lot of what we as a staff do here at school; is often ‘not highly visible’ to parents; the hours of planning; the meetings; the professional discussions; the agonising over individual children and their progress – much of it before; during and after school hours. Rest assured however; that each child and their well-being and progress matters to us a lot and we spend many; many hours doing our very best to meet their diverse needs – socially; emotionally; intellectually; physically and spiritually. This is the reason that when school holidays arrive; it takes a good few days to just catch our breath and to slow down from the complex; creative; enjoyable; rewarding; busy; demanding and challenging nature of our vocation.
Running a school is a lot like running a family –
There is always a lot going on and each person in the family is different – different needs; different personalities; different issues; different experiences; however we are all alike in that within our family we each want our needs to be met – our need for nurture, acceptance and belonging; our need for physical and emotional safety; our need for understanding, respect and unconditional love – our need for room to flourish and grow into the very best version of ourselves we can be. Of course there will be a number of obstacles along the way and people who let us down, however ‘as a Christian family’ we need to trust that we each want the best for each other and will proactively work towards achieving this, by thinking the best of each other, praying for each other and speaking and acting respectfully, even when it is hard to do.
We look forward to walking in ongoing partnership with you to help your children reach their fullest potential as learners, and as people – by continuing to support them through the ups and downs of everyday life and learning here at St Emilie’s.
We see your child’s opportunity to grow and learn as an eight year journey from Kindy to Year Six … where they progressively learn to grow from mistakes and from social/emotional challenges along the way. Together we will help them to grow to be strong; resilient; kind; assertive; empathetic and enthusiastic people; ready to make a difference out in the world!
We look forward to Term Three and wish you all the very best for a safe and fun-filled family holiday!
And just remember…
Thank you to all our St Emilie’s Mums and Dads who have set their children up well all semester by packing a healthy lunchbox. As we wander around at recess and lunch duty we have seen some fabulous examples of food that really gets those brains ready for learning.
The more families that support healthy eating here at school, the better the outcomes for children – for both short-term and for long-term health and well-being.
We will be posting some healthy lunchbox ideas and websites to check out next term and we will be launching CRUNCH AND SIP to St Emilie’s, so watch this space!
The following letter has been sent to you from Dr Tim McDonald, the Director of Catholic Education here in WA. This letter communicates Catholic Education’s commitment to providing education to children in detention on Christmas Island. He highlights this as a moral obligation and reminds us that a basic education is a fundamental human right and in keeping with the Church’s long tradition of supporting the poor and marginalised.
I would urge you all to please make the time to read this letter and to keep all those involved in your thoughts and prayers.
Regards, Tania Thuijs
Reading Your Child’s Report by Michael Grose
Each Semester at the end of Term 2 and Term 4 Student Reports are sent home.
Here at St Emilie’s we aim to help children to understand that reports are neither something to be feared …
or something to get overly excited about …
We explain to children that the report certainly gives some valuable information about their learning progress however we also reinforce that this isn’t ‘the whole picture’ and that learning improvement takes ongoing time, persistence, patience, practise, a positive attitude, effort and more!
Parents are asked to read the Michael Grose article above as it has some pearls of wisdom about keeping school reports in perspective and some advice as to how to support your child when it comes to report reading time.
We ask that you also read the note below which simply explains the newest version of the A-E GRADE DESCRIPTORS for all primary schools in WA.