“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart

A new term, a new Easter season and the beginning of the next chapter in the life of Kildare Ministries after celebrating our 10th anniversary conference in the last week of Term 2.

This year I have reflected on the Easter season, in light of Pope Francis’ teaching on hope. He reminds us that Jesus’ death is a historical fact. Believing this is not an act of faith. It is in his rising and encounter with the risen Jesus that we find the beginnings of our faith. The act of going to the tomb and being ready to be amazed by the power of the love of God is an invitation that we are called to over and over in our lives. It is a hope filled invitation.

In the hours and days following the resurrection Jesus intentionally sought out those who would become the first witnesses. They were the first proclaimers of hope and serve as models for us when we find ourselves in times of defeat, darkness, uncertainty or despair.

Pope Francis says, ‘God is greater than nothingness, and a lit candle is enough to overcome the darkest of nights.’

In our leadership team meeting this week we further explored the call to be missionaries of hope. This is at the heart of the educational process. We educate for the future. We educate our young people to bring them to the fullness of life. In this we proclaim the Easter message.

This call was very much at the heart of our Kildare Ministries 10th Anniversary Conference held in 5 hubs across Australia, including here at Clonard. It was a wonderful occasion to pause and be challenged by our speakers about how we embody and animate the Kildare Ministries, vision, mission and values. The experience helped our staff to come to a greater understanding of being a part of something far bigger than just our own school or even the KEM network of schools. This would not have been possible without the vision and courage of the Trustees who imagined such a gathering and then the power of teamwork that happened behind the scenes to coordinate such a successful event at such a large scale. Personally, I am extremely grateful to our community and those who had key roles in the way we worked together. There was an extraordinary spirit of generosity and hospitality.

Some of the wisdom and challenges from the conference that have stayed with me include:

Dr Anne Pattel-Grey calling us to be ambassadors for justice and reconciliation for First Nations people. She asked – what do you learn about us? How well do you learn our language, our values, our culture, our spirituality? Does the oldest living culture in the world mean anything to you? She challenged Kildare Ministries to partner with the School of Aboriginal cultural studies to undertake Cultural safety audits of KM schools and community works as a starting point for reconciliation.

Inspirations and pearls of wisdom from the panel of guest speakers:

· Western culture needs to listen more to the plight of others and not just impose our world view to create trust beyond our borders

· The absolute principle of ethics is to liberate the poor – are we the ones doing the oppressing?

· We come from a tradition of prophetic disruption, what wisdom can we draw from?

· The call for radical inclusion is why we have jobs in Catholic Ministries

· Brigid and Nono were the radical risk takers of their times

· Use the magic of the Holy Spirit

· Being a synodal Church means us together, it’s a ministry of healing, increasing our circles of welcome

· The heart of what we do in faith communities is in intimate connection to the Jesus story

· Transformation takes humility, uncertainty, vulnerability, courage and risk

· Transformation happens to people first, not institutions. This is God’s work.

We look forward to continuing the conversation and discerning how we will bring alive the dreaming prompted by this conference in the coming weeks, months and years ahead.

We have begun asking the question in light of the Living Justice Living Peace Charter, what would it mean to be the Graduate of a Kildare Ministries education? Staff and the Stewardship Council have commenced a process of revisiting our current graduate outcomes with this question in mind. We now invite families to join us as a part of this process by attending a workshop on Tuesday 30 April from 6-7pm in the Nagle Room. This information has been provided via Operoo.

Over the coming week we are finalizing our evidence for the VRQA and School Improvement Framework reviews. This includes review of the 11 Child Safe Standards. As part of our review of the Child Safe Standards we have identified the need to continue to develop ways families can be a part of our review and development of processes, we have updated some of our induction information and are investigating more streamlined systems for our record keeping. We remain committed to proactively building a school wide culture of child safety and promptly responding to any concerns raised in this area. Thank you to families who provided feedback to our Child Safeguarding Team through the recent survey. We look forward to sharing the results of this survey.

Feedback is always important to our improvement processes. This week we shared with staff the results of the PIVOT survey where students provide feedback to teachers to support growth in teaching practice. PIVOT is scored on a 6 point scale. Over 1800 responses were collected. Students reported the 3 areas across the College for celebration were:

· I know how I am supposed to behave in class – 5.32

· This teacher knows a lot about the topics in this class – 5.25

· This teacher respects me for who I am – 5.15

The areas for conversation included:

· This teacher gives me choices about the work I do – 4.45

· This teacher helps me to set goals for my learning – 4.5

· This teacher connects their teahcign to my life – 4.51

Given the 6 points scale we are pleased that even our areas for development sit well above the 4 indicator. Staff use this data as they form their learning goals for the year to support improvement in student learning.

As we return to the quote at the start of this reflection “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings,” we look forward to sharing more of the learning from our review processes in the coming weeks and to family and community engagement as we develop our next School Improvement Plan.



Photos by Pete James Photography