CSPWA Term 1 Newsletter-Week 8
Catholic School Parents WA would like to sincerely and gratefully thank all of our teachers, principals, education assistants, school admin staff and indeed all staff at Catholic Education WA for the amazing work you have been doing over the past weeks. We thank you for the long hours and commitment to ensuring our children will continue to have access to relevant learning opportunities. We cannot tell you how grateful we are for your continued pastoral care offered not just to the children and young people in Catholic schools but especially to our families over these turbulent times. CSPWA continue to walk in partnership with you and remember our 2018 conference theme “We’re All in this Together!”
Dear parents and caregivers,
Welcome to our end of term 1 newsletter!
Did we ever think at the beginning of this term that it would end in this way?
We find ourselves in an ever evolving environment, one of which we have never seen before. Now more than ever we need to support our families and each other. As schools close and we are all unsure of what next term will look like, be sure to take time to care for yourselves and those around you, this is by far the most important thing we can be doing at the moment (besides washing our hands and social distancing!!) It can be difficult to keep up with school work and working from home yourself – look for some joy in everyday and write it down, share it or simply allow yourself to smile, you may be surprised where you find it (just a hug from your child when you really needed it can lift your mood). If you are in self isolation this may be more challenging (mine will finish at Easter after travelling interstate for a wedding and a chance to see family – we didn’t get to see my Dad as the nursing home went into lockdown the day before we arrived) look after yourself and stay connected with others. I’ve heard some great stories of people caring, sharing and connecting with others.
Thank you to all who took on positions in their P&F and to those who support the work done. Your plans may be on hold for now but it is a good idea to stay connected and support each other in whatever way you can. Please make sure you are using multiple platforms as you may not be reaching all if you just rely on one way (not everybody may be on face book for example).
But down to some practicalities. The staff in the office will be available by phone or email all through these turbulent times, offering support and advice as always. It is therefore essential that we have contact details for your P&F/Parent group executive members. We will continue with our newsletters to keep everyone informed as to what's going on, but in particular with advice and support regarding how to stay in touch with each other over the next couple of months. If you are unsure whether we have your contact details, just send them again, our system has the capability to delete duplicates. Your details can then be added to our database which will make it easier to keep in touch. Please do this ASAP. You can either send them to [email protected] or go to our website at www.csp.wa.edu.au where you will find an office bearers form on the front page. If there are parents at your school who would like to hear from us and who are not office bearers they are more than welcome to send their details to the admin address above.
We thank sincerely those school parent groups who have paid their affiliation fee for this year. This will ensure that we can continue to provide a support service to all who need it.
CSPWA staff and council members are very disappointed to announce that our conference to be held in June has now been cancelled due to the current situation. We would like to thank those who have been in contact regarding the conference particularly those of you from schools outside the Perth metropolitan area and who were hoping to attend through the Lotterywest grant. We are in communication with Lotterywest currently and hope that we will be in a position to offer similar assistance when our conference goes ahead in May 2021. We look forward to hosting you all then!
In this newsletter we are including some ideas for ways in which we can make learning from home a positive experience. We are starting with some ideas to keep our children connected to their faith. Siobhan and Theresa have been telling us all about the 'May Altars' which they used to create in their homes during the month of May in honour of Our Lady. Apparently this was an Irish tradition which many children engaged in and which inspired the article further down in this newsletter.
The Churches may be closed but there are many great ways to stay connected and nourish our spirit, which in these times is so important. There are some great websites for example www.catholicaustralia.com.au & www.catholic.org.au , Praying the rosary as a family, watch an online Mass, instagram- I follow Pope Francis (franciscus) along with 6.8 million others and Australian Catholic Bishops (acbc1). I would like to share Pope Francis’s post from 29th March which I found quite powerful-
“Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the Holy Spirit.”
For ideas on how we can maintain our spiritual focus at a time when our churches are not available to us, the Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev Timothy Costelloe SDB DD has asked that we visit the archdiocesan website on a regular basis at www.perthcatholic.org.au.
The holy season of Easter is nearly upon us and many of our plans will have changed. Easter without church services or family gatherings will be very strange indeed however it does bring us the very important message that after darkness, comes light! We urge you to take time out to see what may be available for you and your family to particpate in some way with Easter activities.
When seeking information on COVID -19 make sure you are getting it from a trusted source as not everything you read may be correct.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the many who have been impacted by COVID-19 whether that is through illness, job losses or financial hardship.
As we have heard so often “we are all in this together”.
Be safe, take care and God bless.
Catholic School Parents WA welcomed 50 parents from 16 schools across Perth who attended their Induction Evening held at their office on Thursday 13 February 2020.
The Induction Evening has become an annual event due to the positive feedback from parents in previous years and as in the past, parents present were predominantly new or current office bearers from the parent groups within their schools. They joined CSPWA council members and staff to learn about the Online Induction Resource available to all parents from schools who are affiliated with CSPWA. The online resource was developed to assist parents, especially those new to the parent group, in learning more about their roles and responsibilities within that group.
In addition to going through the various executive roles and responsibilities relating to the running of a parent group within a Catholic school, the online resource also provides information regarding Catholic Education WA, the Bishops Mandate Letter and School Boards. It also provides more specific advice and information regarding some of the key functions of a Parent Group such as spending monies raised through levies and additional fundraising efforts – the most commonly asked question of CSPWA staff!!
CSPWA were delighted to welcome Mr Wayne Bull, the recently appointed Deputy Executive Director - CEWA, who provided an affirming presentation relating to the vital role that parents play in Catholic school communities. Mr Bull spoke briefly about school funding and whilst gratefully acknowledging the support from State and Federal governments, paid particular attention to the significant contribution that parents make though the payment of school fees and building levies. Mr Bull also referenced the many instances in the Bishops Mandate Letter where mention is made of the significant role that parents play in the education of their children. He spoke specifically of the expectation that we will be involved and should be and are welcomed by our schools to do so.
The evening ended with a lively question and answer session and as always members of CSPWA were blown away by the commitment of parents to their school communities. The positivity and willingness to get things right is warming to see and it is very affirming that in these days of the demise in volunteering that parents are keeping the flag flying in our Catholic schools!
To access the online induction please see here or to speak with a member of our office staff please call Theresa on 0438 915 924 or Siobhan on 0409 025 683.
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Once upon a time, many years ago, when Siobhan and Theresa were growing up in Ireland the creation of a May Altar was an annual event in many homes! Irish people had a particular devotion to Our Lady and May was the month of Mary. There was great excitement finding suitable materials to create these masterpieces. Mothers across the land lost their family heirloom tablecloths to these altars. Any bloom in the garden was unceremoniously chopped from the bush from which it sprung and arranged in the Waterford glass vase that Mammy received as a wedding present. Once the First Holy Communion rosary beads were added along with a candle it was ready to go.
Today, many, if not all of our children’s classrooms have a sacred space set aside with a little altar, particularly primary schools. It is a beautiful little space in every classroom and our children are encouraged to engage with it whether through prayer or quiet reflection. Teachers use them to help our children understand prayer and reflection and they are used, for instance during the season of Advent, when Advent candles are often added, to explain the different seasons of the Liturgical calendar.
In turbulent times such as those we are going through at present, rituals and traditions are paramount in helping us maintain some type of normality. Creating a small altar in your home may help your child make the connection between learning at home and learning at school. It creates something familiar that exists no matter where the learning is taking place.
Involve your child/children in the creation of the altar and give each one the responsibility of adding fresh flowers or foliage (or whatever you happen to have in the garden) regularly. If gardening is not your forte and your garden or terrace is bereft of anything suitable, your children could perhaps draw some pictures of flowers or make some with play dough. Similarly if you do not have a cross or rosary that you can use, get your children involved in making something. Your child’s teacher will be able to assist in recommending some appropriate websites for them to source ideas for their creations.
Once your altar is finished to everyone’s approval, make some time at the beginning of each day to gather round, light a candle and pray. You can use prayers we all know like The Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary or your child’s school prayer. It is also a lovely idea to let your child/ren make up their own prayer and occasionally to reflect silently if they are at an age where this would work. You could even download some hymns from YouTube and play them for a change. Try ‘How Great Thou Art’ sung by Carrie Underwood, you’ll be singing it for the rest of the day! (Don’t forget to extinguish the candle, especially if you have young children in the house)
We would love to share photo’s of your ‘home altars’ so that we can inspire others. We are starting with Siobhan's whose altar is ready to go. Once you have created yours, send a photo to Theresa at [email protected] or Siobhan at [email protected] We look forward to seeing them.
We know that we are living through an unprecedented time in our history and that the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 virus has already been and will continue to be significant.
Some parents in our Catholic school system have lost their jobs and many families are facing significant financial stress. We want to assure you of a very important and simple message: the ongoing enrolment of every child at a Catholic school is guaranteed irrespective of a family’s financial situation. Catholic Education’s position is very clear on the enrolment of children in all Catholic schools. No parent who wishes their child to receive a Catholic Education would be denied the opportunity to do so because of financial circumstances.
If you are worried about your financial situation and your capacity to pay school fees, the following options are immediately available to you:
- The Centrelink Health Care Card Discount Scheme provides an automatic fee concession to the holders of eligible means-tested family concession cards. This discount applies to all year levels from Kindergarten to Year 12. Additional financial considerations are also available depending on each family’s circumstance.
- For parents who do not qualify for the Health Care Card discount, but who are experiencing financial difficulties, arrangements can be made to provide immediate support to assist you with tuition costs.
Our schools want to assist you in every way possible to continue your child’s enrolment at the school you have chosen. Should you find yourself in financial stress we urge you to contact your school as soon as possible to put in place financial arrangements to enable your child’s ongoing education at their school. Any arrangements which are made between parents and schools will remain confidential.
Catholic schools will continue, whether your child is at school, or at home, to provide rich and engaging learning activities and strong pastoral support.
For some time now CSPWA council and staff members have talked about the idea of putting together a Book of Prayers for Meetings.
Our website analytics show that the ‘Prayers’ section of our website is the most visited page, probably as we have all arrived at meetings having been given the responsibility for the prayer and in fact have completely forgotten!
To that end we have put together a selection of our favourite Prayers and Reflections for Meetings and created an on-line booklet. You can find it HERE if you use on-line facilities for your meetings. Alternatively, you can download it and add it to your P&F/Parent Group Folder.
As always we would welcome your input and if you have a prayer or reflection that you would like to see added, please send it through to [email protected] and it will be forwarded to CSPWA council for consideration.
If you have been have been asking the question 'how do I keep my children entertained and off their screens?' then have a look at these podcasts that the ABC has released. The podcasts are an excellent way of engaging your children on even the longest days spent indoors.
Click on this link to access them.
The City of Rockingham has announced some new Community Grants Program-Emergency Relief Funds COVID-19 for incorporated organisations and associations up to $15,000. Grants will assist incorporated organisations and associations providing emergency relief support services/provision or assistance to those affected by the impacts of COVID-19 in the Rockingham community. As you are aware CSPWA, who is an Incorpoarated body, can as an auspice for receipt of grants for Parent and Friends groups. If you would like furtrher information on these grants please see the link on the City of Rockingham’s page: https://rockingham.wa.gov.au/events-culture-and-tourism/scholarships-and-grants/community-grants-program
Please feel free to contact Theresa on 0438 915 924 if you would like some furtrther information on the auspicing process.
As we move through these turbulent times we are as parents, more aware than ever of making our children's mental health and wellbeing a priority. We are also aware that they will all deal with these challenges in their own way and we need to be there to support them.
Over the next couple of months we would welcome the opportunity to share some of our children's thoughts about the current situation we find ourselves in, whether they are expressed through writing, art, music or some other medium. In addition to sharing through our newsletter, we feel it is also an opportunity to record their feelings to look back on in the future. As many have commented through social media and other forums, we are living through a time in history that none of us have ever experienced before and so it may be interesting for our children to look back sometime in the future and recall how they felt and hopefully how they got through it.