Newsletter Number 5: Monday 16th March, 2015

Dear Principal,

I apologise for the length of this Newsletter.  However, please be selective in the items you open.  We have been inundated with messages from the various Governments and Associations and I believe it is important that Principals get the opportunity to be fully informed.

Conference News

Registrations for the May Conference in Dubbo have now exceeded 200.  You are advised to register as soon as possible to ensure that you are able to come to this outstanding event.

Will Catholic Schools be Catholic in 2030?

Well known Patrician Brother, Aengus Kavanagh and Ursuline Sister,Leone Pallisier, organisers of the well known Elim program for many years, have collaborated to produce a booklet with many challenging articles and Chapters, with many well known Bishops, Principals and Teachers contributing thoughtful articles in response to this theme.  In addition, Prayers and Reflections Suitable for Staff Spirituality Days fill another section in this useful book.  The authors sum up their approach, as follows:

"This book is mainly intended as a resource to stimulate grass roots theologising and reflection among Catholic educators.  The story of Catholic Schools in Australia is one of visions and courage.  For many years, Catholic Schools survived and thrived without a cent of Government funding.  The challenges facing Catholic educators in our times are more subtle in a highly secularist and consumerist society.  All who work in Catholic education are now challenged to revisit the primary reason why Catholic Schools exist as a separate sector and to seek to "grow the story" in alignment with the founding vision.  Catholic Schools with an authentic Catholic culture are a gift within the Church and a transforming gift within Australian society...

A major part of the book is devoted to a rich range of reflections and prayers, suitable for use by adults working in Catholic education, but also suitable for personal prayer and for Retreat settings"

The first edition has already sold out and Dr Dan white, the Executive Director of CEO Sydney, has purchased a copy for each of his Principals.  Copies cost $40 each and Bro. Aengus can be contacted at 02 9877 5753 or by email at

Robert Micken's Article on Pope Francis' Vision for the Church.

Recently, the well known Vatican Commentator, Robert Mickens, of NCR, wrote an excellent and provocative piece in NCR, the American Catholic Paper.  Pope Francis was explicitly addressing the 20 new Cardinals that he created during February.  "He told them to serve and see Jesus in all those on the margins, even in those who have lost their faith, or who have turned away from the faith, or say they are atheists...Truly, dear brothers, the gospel of the marginalised is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered and is revealed" were the words the Pope addressed to the new Cardinals. The Article is entitled "Could Pope Francis Be Any Clearer About His Vision For The Church" NCR February 16th, 2015. (click here).  The article is well worth reading.

The State Elections March 28th, 2015:  The Issue of Capital Funding

The NSW Catholic Education Commission is deeply concerned at the lack of funds for Capital Development available for Catholic Schools, and, indeed for Government Schools.  There have been many newspaper articles recently talking about the huge number of schools needed by 2020 to cope with increasing enrolments, but with little money provided in Education Budgets.

The CEC has urged Principals to approach their local members and their opponents, to convince them of the need for a better allocation of Capital funds, especially in growth areas, and to speak about this matter in Newsletters and Meetings with Parents.  Dr Brian Croke, CECNSW Executive Director, said in February, that "Catholic Schools which enrol more than 251,000 students, need to build more than 2300 new classrooms to accommodate a further 58,000 students by 2031".  Where will the funds for such huge Capital Development come from, if Governments don't help?  If we can't accommodate these extra students, the State Government will have to bear the burden of these extra students themselves.

To help in this debate CECNSW has sent out some useful facts which Principals could use in Newsletters and in Parent Meetings.  These include "Capital Funding-Fact Sheet" (click here); Capital Funding-Frequently Asked Questions (click here); Media Release, Next NSW Government Must Lift Capital Funding to All Schools (click here) and a 2015 NSW Election Update, from 2nd March (click here).

Principal Well Being Survey:  ACPPA and Camp Australia

ACPPA, supported generously by Camp Australia, have launched a Principal Well Being Survey, which take about five minutes to complete.  Details are provided here and Principals are urged to respond to this important research.  We all hear of Principals resigning because of the huge pressures on them and such Surveys help inform responses to this challenge (click here).  We are deeply grateful to Camp Australia for their support of this research.

On April 1, 2015 ACPPA and Camp Australia are celebrating the official launch of the principal health and wellbeing survey.  We would like to offer our NSW colleagues who have successfully completed the online survey, the opportunity to attend our the luncheon.  Limited places available so please respond to the survey soon and rsvp to this exciting event. Please click here to view the event invitation and to RSVP for the event.

Message from CaSPA March Edition

The Catholic Secondary Principals' Association have sent an informative March Edition Newsletter, with several important matters therein.  Phil Lewis, the President will be representing Secondary Schools at the National Forum for Directors of Catholic Education and will present on the topic: "The Future of Catholic Schools in Australia". Another important decision, explained more fully in the article, is that the CaSPA Board has decided to resign from their association with the Principals Australia Institute (click here).

Various Government Messages

Christopher Pyne has sent a Media Release "A Better National Curriculum for all Australian Students", promising amongst other things to address the overcrowding and rebalancing of the Australian Curriculum. (click here).

AITSL have conducted their second National Survey, as part of the Evaluation of the Implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, being conducted from 2nd to 20th March.(click here)

Niall Byrne has written, asking Principals to nominate their best Science Teachers for a Prime Minister's Prize for teaching Science in both Primary and Secondary Schools (click here)

NSW Government Launches ClassMovie.  Information on this valuable resource is given here (click here)

Messages from Catholic Authorities

NCEC  publishes This Week in Catholic Education, 5th March, 2015, with many significant articles (click here)

The APPA e-Journal will be sent to Primary Principals next Tuesday  (click here)

The Rock and Water Program has announced its Tour Dates (click here).

Some Interesting Newspaper Articles.

A whole range of interesting Newspaper articles on education issues have turned up in the last week or two.  Most are brief and easy to read and are from a wide range of educational positions.  I was particularly interested in "What Really Works In Raising Kids' Marks at School" (click here)  If only it was that easy.  The article included "7 Teaching Practices to Lift Academic Performance" which did not come out in the printout.  They were:

  • High Expectations of Students
  • Clearly showing students what to do and how to do it.
  • Effective feedback (A major issue in Hattie and Dinham Research)
  • Using data to identify problem areas early (Perhaps NAPLAN might have a positive to it)
  • Classroom management
  • Ensuring the wellbeing of students (A key plus in Catholic Schools)
  • Collaborating with Colleagues.

Certainly not rocket science, but useful to have in one place.

  • "Time to Think Outside the Classroom Square" from Stephen Heppell SMH (click here)
  • "NSW Primary Schools Allow Parents to Permanently Excuse Children from Homework" Alexandra Smith SMH(click here)
  • "Homework in Kindergarten Sends the Wrong Message"  Michele Freeman SMH  (click here)
  • "Screen Time for the Kindy Kids"  Paul Cleary The Australian (click here).

A whole range of educational ideologies are evident here.  Select the ones that prove you are right!!






Stephen Aitken
ACSP Executive Officer