Who would have thought less than 3 months ago, at the start of this school year we would be where we are now? Our lives at the moment are the stuff of science fiction. In all this turmoil, the one thing that has been wonderful to experience is the sense of collaboration and people being there for one another. Over the past two weeks, younger students have had the opportunity to connect with older children out on the playground and the older students are proving to be gentle, inclusive and thoughtful mentors. The staff have worked together to support one another in becoming upskilled in various areas of IT in order to provide worthwhile, meaningful learning experiences next term.
Thank you to all those parents who have been completing the online forms we have sent home to help prepare everyone in the community for home-based learning. Thank you for taking the time to read all the information that has been coming your way from both school and the CSO, as this helps you to be aware of what is going on.
What has become evident is that parents who are not familiar with using OneNote are realising that it requires a bit of practice to understand how it all works. A piece of advice that one parent offered was to ask all parents to spend some time during the holidays familiarising themselves with what we sent home on Tuesday and the accompanying handout, in order to be able to support your children next term, without you and them becoming frazzled. We feel this is a terrific suggestion and wholeheartedly encourage it.
You will be surprised how well your children, (and you), pick up what needs to be done after they have had some practice. We are aware that the younger children require support in accessing the work, however this would be the case for any format that was used for this age group. Over time they too will become increasingly adept at using the mouse and keyboard.
We know that there will be challenges along the way with home learning, particularly with Zoom and OneNote, that will not necessarily be anyone’s fault. We ask that you don’t let these challenges get you down but instead look at them as opportunities to show your children how when things get tough, we can deal with them in ways other than giving up, criticising others, swearing, taking our frustrations out on others …
Teaching them how to take some deep breaths and trying again, or walking away from the situation and coming back again later, or problem solving by communicating with someone that can help, or Googling or You Tubing solutions, will be great life skills for your children to learn.
We are aware that for parents with work commitments beyond the family, online learning from home may pose some problems, as they will be juggling the demands of their paid work, their children’s education, and their family responsibilities. We do not wish to unnecessarily add to the burdens of families so please reach out and seek help, even if it seems to be only a little thing, in relation to your children’s learning. At the start of next term we will share with you a document that outlines who to contact for different types of issues or concerns.
Thank you for your patience as we all (students, parents and staff) navigate the many unknowns in this world of remote learning.
You might like to share the story, “Where Did Everyone Go?” with your children over the holidays.
Staff at the Catholic Schools Office have been very committed in working on the following Belief Statement that pertains to all children, families and staff in our diocese at this extraordinary time in our history and this extraordinary time in your families’ lives and your children’s education. We are the only diocese to have formulated such a statement and it is well worth a read. I suggest that it is perhaps something you come back to read thoroughly when you have time – perhaps make a ‘cuppa’ and sit in quiet space and reflect on what these statements are saying.
A Statement of Common Belief – Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
This is a statement of our ‘theology of education’ which seeks to honour the dignity of each child, family and staff member. During these unprecedented times, it is important that we maintain our commonly held beliefs that underpin our identity, decision making and practice as Catholic communities.
Catholic schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle believe that ‘at the heart of everything is Jesus Christ’. Because of this, we acknowledge the following:
The personhood and dignity of each child/young person, parent and staff member. Therefore...
- Firstly, we acknowledge with deep respect, the traditional custodians of this land.
- Every child/young person has the right to feel safe. Teachers and parents are encouraged to be aware of messages conveyed through general conversation and news items.
- Parents are valued for the advice and wisdom they respectfully share.
- Staff are acknowledged for their steadfast love of children/young people and families at this time and the personal sacrifices required of them to serve the needs of society.
The Catholic social teaching principles of ‘solidarity’ and ‘common good’ guide our sense of togetherness and community. We act for the good of all. We are inclusive of the rights of each person and group. We have a duty to protect the vulnerable. Therefore...
- We recognise that business is not ‘usual’. The circumstance of our school communities are changing by the day.
- The spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of our children/young people, families and staff must be considered above all else.
- Continuation of learning must be adaptable as the situation changes. Each teacher, family, student and school will do what is possible.
- We find creative ways to support and nurture our community through information and technology to reduce isolation.
- We prepare for the bringing together of our community once again, when it is safe to do so, knowing that things will be different.
Parents/carers are the first and foremost educators of the child. Therefore...
- Parents are trusted and empowered to make decisions about how children/young people learn at home.
- Parents are generally not trained teachers and are not expected to deliver a curriculum.
- Learning will be different in every home.
- The home environment is full of rich learning opportunities.
- Schools recognise that circumstances at home may include, parents working from home, members of the family who are unwell, limited access to technology or other circumstances which may prevent students from engaging with formal learning opportunities.
We believe that humans are relational and live best in community. Therefore...
- Compass will form the baseline communication between schools and parents.
- Established communications and approved technology platforms will be maintained where possible.
- In the event of suspension of classes at school, staff will be in contact with students as determined by the local context, circumstance and consistent with minimum Diocesan expectations.
- Our teachers will find ways to remain in relationship with their children/young people and families, where possible.
- Communications will be respectful, collaborative and in partnership with all stakeholders.
We commit to engaging the whole student through head, heart and hands. Therefore...
- Schools will provide a variety of manageable learning experiences that are appropriate for a home environment and use established means.
- We acknowledge that illness may impact on the teacher to provide support for their classes and that CSO, schools, and staff will work to support each other if or when this happens.
- All experiences are opportunities for learning and reflection on learning.
- We acknowledge that parents will need different support depending on their circumstances to implement learning at home.
- Catholic education is engaged in the context of the pursuit of truth. The truth is that none of us have walked in this landscape before. We need to be kind to each other.
We believe that children are true citizens who are connected and contribute to the world. Therefore...
- Learning is not simply “delivered” to children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that children/young people contribute meaningfully to their learning and wellbeing. More than ever, it is a time of listening to the voice of the child through their words, drawings, writings and behaviour.
We are a people of hope, who nurture a positive view of creation and all life. Therefore…
- Daily prayer is encouraged to connect children/young people, families and staff members to the global Christian community and God as a source of consolation and hope.
- Learning experiences foster a deep connection and wonder at the beauty of God’s creation.
This will be an Easter like we have never had before. The one thing however that doesn’t change is the meaning of Easter. The Easter story is one of hope.
For Jesus' followers, the knowledge and sight of his crucifixion initially brought a sudden halt to so much hope and promise in their lives. Yet we know the Easter story is a story of overcoming darkness and despair, and finding new life and hope.
Easter invites all of us to believe in the transforming power of love. At a time in our world where fear and anxiety have a tendency to creep in, the Easter season encourages us to look towards love and life.
We look for the generous and life-giving response of our health care and community service workers who continue to care for others.
We look to the generosity of neighbours, as people help one another with shopping, gardening and staying in touch.
We look to the willingness of our community leaders working together to consider how to best support those who are most vulnerable.
COVID-19 is impacting so many aspects of our lives, and for many of us it is the first time we will spend Easter apart from family and friends.
It is important to remember to take the time this Easter to care for ourselves, and reach out (remotely) to those we love at this time, to wave to a neighbour, call those who may be anxious, and bring a bit of hope in this time of crisis.
Have a blessed and hope filled Easter with your family and may the holidays be a period where wonderful family memories are made.
Holy Thursday Prayer
You show us by example how to love others.
Today as we celebrate Holy Thursday, we remember when you washed the feet of your
Give us the strength to wash each other’s feet, not only in the ritual moment of today, but in all moments of our lives, particularly during these challenging days.
May we as a community recommit ourselves to the service of others.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Holy Season of Easter
This coming Sunday, Christians all around the world will celebrate the feast of Easter and contemplate the mystery and meaning of the resurrection of Jesus. In these difficult days of pandemic, the story of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is more crucial than ever.
For the many who are suffering because of the circumstances of their lives, particularly in the face of Coronavirus, the story of Jesus's triumph over death and sin gives hope in the face of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. The message of Easter reminds us that God is indeed with us.
On Easter Sunday we will celebrate the feast of the Resurrection. We celebrate that Jesus, who was dead, now lives again! We celebrate his risen life, his new life, our new life. We can rejoice because He is risen from the dead. Jesus shares his new life with us, and we are full of joy. So, this Sunday find some moments of joy in your lives as a family.
Let us all pray together in this holy season, that we will be inspired to actively participate in the liberation that God, the resurrected Christ, brings for all people.
We pray you and your family have a safe and happy Easter together – Alleluia!
Holy Week at School
In class over the past couple of weeks, classes have been preparing and learning about Holy Week as part of their RE Lent and Easter units. Here are some photos of great hands on ways to make the Easter Season meaningful for children.
Easter at Home
We have gathered a collection of resources, from many sources, to support families in prayer and discussion together this Easter weekend. We have some home liturgical prayer guides and PowerPoints you and your family might like to share together.
Bishop Bill’s Easter Message
Easter Services live streamed
Easter services will be live streamed from Sacred Heart Cathedral this Holy Week and Easter Triduum.
- Thursday 9th April: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper - Holy Thursday Mass 7pm
- Friday 10th April: Celebration of the Lord’s Passion – Good Friday Liturgy 3pm
- Saturday 11th April: The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night – The Easter Vigil 7pm
- Sunday 12th April: Mass of Easter Day – Easter Sunday Mass 9:30am
See the Diocese YouTube page for the live streams by clicking this link:
Easter Egg Hunt
This Easter will be a little different this year. We are encouraged to stay home with our families and celebrate Easter together. Please use the resources about to celebrate the most significant liturgical event in the Church's calendar. In hopes of making this Easter a little more fun for children, put some drawn/printed coloured Easter Eggs in your front window for an Easter Egg Hunt in the neighbourhood. This is just like the idea of putting teddies in your front window for families in the community who take a walk and go on a Bear Hunt. Click the link provided below for some Easter Egg printable colouring sheets. This idea came from NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, a few days ago. Happy Easter!
During the school holidays, we will distribute via Compass an Anzac Day Liturgy PowerPoint and activities for families to commemorate this special day at home.
Enrolments for 2021 have now opened. If you have a child starting Kindergarten next year please contact the office for an enrolment pack. If you know of any families with a 2021 school-age child please ask them to contact us to arrange for an enrolment pack to be sent to them.
The Diocese of Maitland Newcastle is very conscious of the significant financial impact COVID-19 is having on our families. Our number one priority is to support our families through this crisis and ensure your child has stability in Catholic schools. For ease of access we have attached the CSO website
In order to assist we are taking the following measures:
Part A –Defer Payment of School Fees until July 2020
To access this deferment, we refer you to our website where you can click on the link called ‘COVID-19 School Fee Deferral’. Please complete the form and submit it. Please ensure you complete all relevant fields thereby enabling us to monitor your postponed payment.
Fee payer’s postponement of school fee payments will include:
- CDF direct debit – contact the CDF (4979 1163)
- Centrelink - parents will need to contact Centrelink directly.
- BPay – suspend payment from your bank account.
Acknowledgement of postponement of fees will be recorded by the school as soon as practicable.
Part B – Request for COVID-19 School Fee Concession
In instances of ongoing financial hardship, fee payers can apply for a fee concession. This concession is accessed via the CSO website by clicking on the link called ‘COVID-19 School Fee Concession’.
Families are encouraged to complete this form if they require financial assistance.
Where to find the COVID 19 Fee Relief Forms