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Empowering children to learn

Opinion

With about 45,000 students in the State’s 102 Catholic schools starting Term 1 last week, Catholic Education SA director DR NEIL MCGORAN writes of the importance of families and educators working in partnership so that every child can flourish in 2019.

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The start of the school year is always an exciting time and an opportunity for a new beginning for all involved in Catholic Education.

For the staff of our Catholic Education Offices and schools, we are beginning 2019 with great anticipation and energy after celebrating together at the historic Live Learn Lead – Together conference at the Entertainment Centre on January 23.

We are very excited about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and look forward to once again working in partnership with families to ensure that children and young people can continue to thrive as people, become capable learners and actively take up their responsibility as leaders for the world God desires.

Likewise, for every child and young person attending a Catholic school, the start of the school year is a chance to grow in self-confidence and awareness, develop new ways of learning and inquiring, and nurture and strengthen relationships with classmates and school staff. Naturally, too, the excitement is combined with some nervousness about what the year might hold and how the next challenges in learning can be mastered.

As families and educators, we must constantly remind ourselves – and our children and students – that these feelings are natural. In fact, all new learning challenges existing learning. Despite the romantic ways that we might imagine learning as a series of ‘light bulb moments’, in fact, most times, learning is difficult and requires enormous courage; especially the courage to risk being wrong or to make a mistake.

As families and educators, it is important that we work in partnership with our children and students to simultaneously provide them with opportunities to take responsibility for their learning, whilst also explicitly teaching them how to plan, prioritise, think, reflect, evaluate and modify their learning and behaviours. As we enter this school year, we should make this our shared goal.

I would like to offer a special welcome to Catholic Education to all of those families and children who are starting at a Catholic school for the first time this year.

For those children entering Reception, there can be only one first day of school. I trust that it goes well – and my thoughts are also extended to families who might well be asking ‘where did the time go?’ as their toddlers have suddenly now become Receptions!

Similarly, best wishes to those students and their families who are commencing in a Catholic school for the first time in another year level. I know that you will be pleased with your choice of school.

Finally, thank you to all of our families, staff and children who help to make Catholic schools such wonderful and inspiring places to be. May we continue to be make Jesus present in our parishes and school communities.

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