In my article last week, I spoke about the beginning of the Lenten season and what this season means to our faith. This period is a significant time for reflection and the possibility of change in our lives. However, these things cannot happen unless we are open to the idea of spending some time reflecting on our own faith and actions and prepared to make a commitment to change. Last Sunday, all parishes across the Brisbane Archdiocese heard the Lenten message from Archbishop Mark Coleridge. His message was entitled “A Door Wide Open”. In his message, Archbishop Coleridge reminded...
In my article last week, I spoke about the beginning of the Lenten season and what this season means to our faith. This period is a significant time for reflection and the possibility of change in our lives. However, these things cannot happen unless we are open to the idea of spending some time reflecting on our own faith and actions and prepared to make a commitment to change. Last Sunday, all parishes across the Brisbane Archdiocese heard the Lenten message from Archbishop Mark Coleridge. His message was entitled “A Door Wide Open”. In his message, Archbishop Coleridge reminded us that Pope Francis has proclaimed this year to be “an extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy”.
This would then follow that during this Lenten season we could look to understand this concept of 'mercy' in our Church and how it is reflected in our own lives and actions. Pope Francis speaks of lifting our horizons, building bridges, closing gaps, avoiding any sort of barrier or closure when it comes to our welcome and inclusion of others. He challenges us to look honestly and critically at the environment we create around us. In essence, we are being challenged to take the time to look with open and honest eyes and hearts at the environment that we create – is it one of shadow or is it one of light?
Dr Lee-Anne Perry, the Executive Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, recently spoke at an EREA schools' Opening Mass. In her address, Dr Perry challenged the students in front of her to consider the following questions in developing their own understanding of mercy. I believe that these questions are pertinent to all of us and well worth the time to reflect upon them and also use them as a point of discussion with your son(s):
- Do you genuinely see others (which means more than a passing glance or a cursory handshake or greeting)?
- Do you genuinely care about others? Or do you really only see yourself and worry about how others see you?
- Have you formed categories of people, little boxes you put them in, and a hierarchy of those boxes – with ourselves on top, while those different from us occupy lower places in our ladder of value?
In his address, Archbishop Coleridge, suggested that … “For all of us the Jubilee is to be a new experience of God’s mercy, so that we can in turn become a more powerful experience of God’s mercy for others, especially those in most need of it. That’s what the Church is called to be: a community where those needing mercy can find a home where homelessness often threatens".
I think that we would all agree that if we can open our own hearts and the hearts of our young men to a commitment to mercy, our world would be a better place.
On Tuesday evening, we held an extraordinary meeting of the College Parents and Friends Association (P & F). As mentioned in my previous article, over the past few years the numbers of members of the committee and guests has waned. During the meeting on Tuesday, the small group that gathered spoke about what the purpose and functions should be of a P & F and can these be met in a different way in contemporary education. In terms of the purpose and functions, we relied upon the information from the Australian Federation of Parents and Friends Associations. These include:
- The Parents and Friends Association represents the interests of the whole parent body of the College;
- It helps parents engage with the school and the education of their children;
- It works to support the school.
It was decided that the current meeting process does not really reflect or fully achieve these aims. Whilst the College Principal attends the meetings and reports to the group and fields questions, there could be more valuable ways for all of the parents within the community to engage in serious discussion and feedback in regard to the College’s educational initiatives and direction.
Therefore, it was decided that the current Parents and Friends Association structure would be disbanded and replaced with a series of Parent Forum meetings over the year. All parents would be invited to these evenings and would be given the opportunity to feedback to the College Leadership Team (CLT) their beliefs and ideas in regard to important educational matters and issues that we are considering. This would be done through a forum and small group discussion around focus questions regarding the matter. The first of these forums will be held in the Term Two. We will advise the community of the topic and date for this forum once it has been decided.
Over the past three days, all of our students in Years 5 to 10 have undertaken three Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) tests to test their general abilities plus skills in numeracy and literacy. The tests were completed online and we are currently starting to collate the results. We will make them available to parents and students as soon as possible. These tests will continue to be done at the beginning of each year. They will give us important information in regard to individual students and the whole year level, which will assist in the development of some of our programs. It is also very important to note that these tests are a “point in time” test and will not be used to “pigeonhole” students, but they will also give us some information in regard to their potential. The tests in the following year will also inform all of us about their progression (or regression) over the year. As in any data, the figures give us information to start profession conversation amongst parents, colleagues and students. This is where the information is transferred into wisdom.
To that end, during yesterday’s teaching staff meeting, Mr Ken Sawers, a representative of the Brisbane Catholic Education Office demonstrated the capabilities of their Business Intelligence Tool. This is a software program that draws upon many different pieces of student information and data that is done across a wide range of activities within the school practice and also external materials from NAPLAN, ACER Tests and QCS etc. As a College, we have committed to purchasing this package so that our teaching staff have a stronger understanding of the capabilities and potential of each student in front of them and areas of learning that may need further improvement. As a whole College, we can also use the student cohort data to look for areas that we may need to further enhance and as evidence for success (or otherwise) in our program practices. This is a further commitment to our priority of improved student tracking capabilities and increased data literacy for staff, students and parents.
I would like to thank the many Year 10 parents who were able to attend our Year 10 Parent Information Evening. I hope that you found the evening to be informative and useful for your year ahead. As always, I am very happy to receive any feedback regarding this event so that we can consider further ways to improve the evening for next year.
The Year 9 Rite Journey information session is being held this Saturday morning at 8:00am. Please remember to RSVP online through the Parent Portal for this event. I look forward to catching up with many of you on Saturday.