A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

HELPING CHILDREN COPE

In the last fortnight, I have noticed a trend amongst some of our students in the way they deal with setbacks and disappointments. In colloquial terms, I have personally witnessed students “dropping their bundle”. By not handling setbacks with maturity and determination, things can tend to spiral out of control and learning loses its way. Students trying to achieve their best, need to also focus on building their skills of RESILIENCE. It is one of the most valuable traits to build because you will need it in 

Resilience in the face of adversity isn’t a fixed personality trait. Resilience is an ability we can help children build. This is an important fact for children who suffer from a serious illness or experience a grievous loss or setback.

What are the best ways that parents can support traumatised children?

  • Tell them they are loved and are not alone. Children need to hear this over and over again.
  • Show them that they matter. This is the question children ask as they grow up: Do I make a difference to others? Do other people notice me, care about me and rely on me? When young people think that they don’t matter, they’re more likely to engage in self-destructive and antisocial activities, or simply withdraw.
  • Parents and other adults can make a difference simply by walking alongside troubled children and listening with undivided attention, forming warm relationships, communicating openly and allowing children to talk about their thoughts and fears.
  • Discuss coping mechanisms. These can include understanding that:
    • It’s okay to be sad and take a break from any activity and cry.
    • It’s okay to be happy and laugh.
    • It’s okay to be angry and jealous of friends and relatives who are not suffering.
    • It’s okay to say to anyone that we do not want to talk about it now.
    • It’s okay to ask for help.
  • Establish positive rituals. This could be something like a family dinnertime practice of each person sharing the best and worst moments of the day – the things that made them sad and those that made them grateful.
  • Embrace family history. Having a sense of their roots builds children’s sense of mattering, of being connected to something larger than themselves. This includes knowing where their parents and grandparents grew up, what their childhoods were like and how the family fared in good times and bad.
  • Keep memories alive. Remembering a loved one who has been lost builds mental health and even physical health over time.

(Acknowledgement: “How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss” by Sheryl Sandberg in The New York Times, April 24, 2017)

 

COMMUNITY NEWS

We keep the following families in our prayers who are dealing with difficult situations:

  • Miss Jamie-Lee Wood who lost a grandfather this week.
  • Martha Rice (mother of Nektaria in Y8) who recently had surgery.
  • Elizabeth Veukiso (class of 2015 and sister of Rosie Y12) who also recently had surgery.

 

GONSKI 2.0 – PROPOSED FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING CHANGES

 As a Principal of a systemic Catholic school, I am increasingly concerned and alarmed at the speed with which the proposed funding changes are being put through parliament. If the changes are implemented, there will be major ramifications for us at Bethany College and other schools in the Archdiocese. Fees will need to rise and the delivery of educational programs to our children will be adversely affected.

 We are being treated as a private, Independent school, such as Danebank or Loreto Kirribilli, when in fact, we are a low-fee school that deliberately reaches out to all Catholic children, irrespective of their socio-economic status.

 Leaders from the Catholic school sectors have four (4) major reservations about the proposed model:

  1. There is a clear and deliberate attempt to undermine the value of operating as a system of Catholic schools. As a system of schools, resources are not allocated on a school-by-school basis. They are spread across all 152 Catholic schools within our system to ensure there is equity and opportunity for all children, regardless of where they live. Notionally highlighting a school’s funding entitlement only serves to cause misunderstandings and division. By working collaboratively, we can lift educational outcomes for all students, share resources to provide specialist intervention programs across all our schools to meet individual student needs, to keep small schools open and to fund major capital works programs.
  2. There are serious reservations about the methodology used by Treasury to calculate forward estimates in accurately predicting indexation rates. The past performance of the Treasury in this area has consistently led to an overestimation in the proposed indexation rates by nearly 1% each year over the past five years. Whilst the indexation rate for next year is locked in, from 2021 the government moves to the flexible indexation formula. We are advocating that the government “locks in” a minimum indexation rate in order to provide funding certainty over the longer term.
  3. Previously, funding in NSW was allocated based on the Average Weighted Index. By moving to a ‘school-by-school’ funding model, great pressure will arise to redistribute funding according to the individual SES of each school. For Sydney, with a large range of middle and high-income communities, this could be problematic. The government’s assumption is that all the parents in these areas have the same capacity to pay as do parents who send their children to private schools. This is simply not the case – we have always maintained a low fee system to provide access and equity for all children, regardless of their postcode or relative social background.
  4. There has been a change in how the SES formula is applied to low fee Primary schools. The current formula (especially in middle-income communities), recognises that young families with high mortgages, do not have the same ‘capacity to pay’ as Secondary school parents in the same SES locality. The removal of this provision (what we refer to as a ‘bow’ in the formula) is what will place the greatest stress on Primary school fees and has led to modelling suggesting that fees may have to progressively double in the longer term from 2021.

 With respect to the potential significant school fee increases, I want to stress they are only at risk of rising if the flaws in the Gonski 2.0 model are not addressed before the legislation is passed by Parliament.

To get the message across to our politicians, Parent Forums will be held across the Archdiocese where we will invite our elected representatives to hear parent concerns. Bethany College will host one of these forums, at this stage we are pencilling in the evening of 31 May 2017.  Details to follow. Please keep this night free. We want as many primary and secondary school parents there to voice their concerns and describe the impact on their families. Living in the St George area, whilst amazing, is also a costly exercise. Many families are heavily mortgaged and the stress of an increase in fees may make a Catholic education non-viable when it should be your right to choose!

 

 

 

Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
 
 
Vicki Lavorato
Principal