MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
I welcome each and every one of you to the 2016 College year. This week, 980 students in our school began the next step in their educational journey at Bethany. This is a large student body sustaining the College to its full capacity. As I have interacted with students, parents and staff during these first few days, I have been struck by the high level of enthusiasm and sense of poise and ambition in each encounter. New students at all levels are receiving strong support and the strong connections between our students have been re-established. Our spiritual theme for the year is Merciful like the Father and our academic focus will be to promote the learning principle of Self-Directed Learning which is an important part of our school-wide pedagogical vision of “Together, we grow”.
Students and teachers are all learning together in this special place. We believe we need to focus on adopting a Growth Mindset and make progress, however incrementally. We are all very excited about the possibilities of each and every one of us extending ourselves for others and as a consequence, reaching for milestones we never dreamed we’d reach!
I particularly welcome our new Year 7 students (“The Dolphins”) to the College and the new members of staff who have joined our community:
- Bailey, Rochelle (PDHPE, HSIE)
- Bernardo, Damian (Performing Arts Coordinator)
- Boutros, Christiana (TAS)
- Georgiou, Constance (HSIE, English)
- Gillieatt, Brad (English Coordinator)
- Kennaugh, Diane (Leader of RE and Mission)
- Maish, Katherine (Leader of Pedagogy)
- Soles, Kirsty (PDHPE, Science)
- Sullivan, Jane (HSIE/RE)
- Harris, Kerryann (HSIE/RE, 0.8 FTE)
We also welcomed back Mr Conroy, Ms Criniti and Mrs Smit who have returned to the College to their full-time positions.
There have been a few changes to the curriculum team at the College. Namely:
- Mr Gillieatt is our new English Coordinator, previously at Marist College Kogarah
- Mr Bernardo is our Acting Performing Arts Coordinator, previously from Loreto Toorak
- Mrs Smit is the Assistant H.S.I. E. coordinator; and
- Mr Culleton is the Assistant Leader of RE and Mission
OPENING SCHOOL MASS
All of our students and teachers were present last week at our College Commencement Mass which took place in Yallunga Hall on Thursday 4 February. This significant event, officially celebrated the beginning of the school year and was celebrated by Father Janusz and we were fortunate to have our new Regional Consultant, Mr Phillip Gane attending. We have two themes for the year.
Academically, we are focusing on each of you becoming more SELF-DIRECTED. You have done work already with your Year Coordinator and Home room teacher on setting your personal and academic goals for the year. By now, you’ve reflected on your personal attributes and how you can use the gifts that you do have can be used to enhance the pursuit of the ones you still want to achieve.
Spiritually, we will be adopting the theme of the global Catholic Church- that 2016 be a Year of Mercy. Each of us is called to be Merciful, Like the Father.
Sometimes, when we think of the word mercy, we picture someone throwing themselves on their knees before a cruel villain, pleading to be spared some punishment. This is not our understanding of God’s mercy. We do not ask for God’s mercy because we are afraid of incurring his wrath as punishment for our sins. Rather, when we call on God to have mercy, we are calling on God in the only way we know him—as one who responds with compassion to those in need. When we show mercy to others, we are responding as God responds, with compassion. Let us be gentle and compassionate to one another, even when it is really difficult to do so. Each of us wants other people to show us mercy, especially when we’ve made a mistake; if you want mercy to be shown to you, you need to show mercy and compassion to others.
Mr Gane was also there in a very special capacity representing Archbishop Fisher and handing us our well-earned Certificate of Registration as a Charter school.
What is the Archbishop’s Charter? The Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools sets out the purpose and mission of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney. The Charter assists us to reflect on and revitalize our understanding of this mission, and how it is lived out in in our school. It will help to strengthen the religious life of the faith community that is Bethany College.
Our College acknowledges and commits in spirit and action to the Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney. Accordingly, we give witness to, and take decisive action on:
- Furthering the evangelising mission of the Church inspired by the Gospel stories of Jesus’ adult ministry in Bethany and his friendship with siblings Martha and Mary.
- Nurturing our students’ love of learning.
- Implementing the Archdiocesan Religious Education curriculum.
- Encouraging our students’ participation in and commitment to the Catholic life of the school and the life of their parish. For example our Youth Group.
- Teaching our students to know, understand and act on Catholic social teaching (brekky van, knitting with love, Christmas hampers).
- Caring for our students through an inclusive curriculum, pastoral care and student wellbeing policies and practices.
- Giving priority to the enrolment of Catholic students.
- Working in partnership with and supporting our parents as the primary educators of their children.
- Working with our Parish Priests in nurturing in our students a personal relationship with Jesus.
- Employing staff who contribute to the mission of the Church and
- Enhancing the witness and Catholic practice of staff, students and families.
At Bethany, we hold on tightly to Christ, and we hold on tightly to one another, and that’s what allows us to live by faith. We’re growing together, making progress together. We dedicate ourselves to our College themes of Mercy and Self-Direction for 2016 and our overarching Vision for Learning:
TOGETHER, WE GROW
EXEMPTIONS AND LEAVE REQUESTS
There have been changes this year to the way schools are asked to manage exemption from school requests. It is the duty of the NSW State government to ensure that every child receives an education of the highest quality and it is the duty of parents to comply with the compulsory education requirements of the Education Act 1990. As such, in the case of students of compulsory school age (less than 17 years) who are enrolled in a school, applications for exemption from school attendance must be submitted in advance.
- Exceptional domestic circumstances, subject to being satisfied that this is in the best educational interests of the child
- Other exceptional circumstances such as health of the student where sick leave or alternative enrolment is not appropriate
- The child being prevented from attending school because of a direction under section 42D of the Public Health Act 1991
- Employment in the entertainment industry or participation in elite sporting events for short periods of time e. for one or two days, and at short notice exemption are very clear.
From the commencement of 2015, when I receive Applications for Exemptions from school, students travelling during school terms are not to be exempted. Do not complete the Exemption application if you wish to take your daughter on leave for a vacation. The following table indicated processes and procedures that need to occur. All forms can be located on the College website or alternatively, requested from the Main Office.
Summary of Forms
All parent forms are available through the College website to be downloaded.
Why such a strict protocol around attendance? The broad message from recent longitudinal research is that there is a close relationship between school attendance and academic performance: every day counts. Moreover, the effects of non-attendance accumulate over time. Days missed in Year 3, for example, are detectable in the years ahead. This is important and has not been, until now, documented in the literature. This is not a trivial issue.
We will continue to work with our students at ‘lifting’ our attendance rates. Students should only be on sick leave at home when they are genuinely ill with infectious or serious ailments. Students with chronic conditions work hard to overcome issues and we are so proud of their efforts to catch up on work and submit their assignments. I would urge parents to support the College in setting the expectation and pattern about attendance early. Please make it a priority to take your holiday breaks in published school vacation periods only.
A full research report is available for your interest at http://www.telethonkids.org.au/media/472779/final_report_2013.pdf
We keep the following people in our prayers:
- Ms Amy Nelson and her husband Mike Camer who welcomed their baby daughter Madison Ann into the world last week. Mum and bub are doing well!
- Annika (10) and Eleanor (12) Kerwick whose grandfather passed away.
- Elena Efthimidiadis (10) whose grandfather also passed away; and
- Ellena Zervos (10) whose cousin passed away.
Collectively, we pray that the souls of the faithfully departed rest in perpetual peace.
CHANGES TO THE PROCESSES FOR APPLYING FOR A FEE REDUCTION
Catholic families experiencing genuine financial hardship who cannot afford to pay fees can apply for a financial bursary through the Catholic Education Foundation (if Centrelink dependent) or other families by completing the Sydney Catholic Schools Fee Reduction Application Form and submitting this, together with the required documentation, to the Principal of the school that the eldest child attends.
The Principal of the school the eldest student attends, or the Business Manager , will arrange an interview and assess the fee reduction application using the Fee Reduction Matrix to determine the level of reduction. This matrix has been determined by Head Office and will be applied consistently across all 151 of our schools. A failure to provide all of the necessary documentation will mean that a fee reduction cannot be considered at all.
The fee follow-up processes are a little different to what has happened in the past. Late fee follow-ups will be happening earlier than what has previously taken place (Term 1, Week 5 and Week 7). If there is no payment or no contact made by the end of Term 1, the fee follow-up will be referred to the Sydney Catholic Schools Fee Unit and they will communicate directly with parents over fee plans and debt recovery.
These new processes have been put in place to ensure the smooth cash flow and operating budget of each school and will also achieve a level of consistency in support of families who need it.
Our mantra:“Girls can do anything. Bethany girls can do everything!* (*except divide by zero)” Vicki Lavorato Principal