CaSPA News


Marymede is set for International Robotics Challenge

Posted on 11 December 2018
Marymede is set for International Robotics Challenge

Above: Students from Marymede Catholic College in Melbourne's north east  prepare with their teacher Kylie Buttigieg, for the International Robotics Challenge.

Exciting times lie ahead for Year 7 Marymede students Marc Lando, Leo Karakatsanis and Christian Nicolaou, all of whom have recently been selected to represent Marymede Catholic College as the first ever Australian team to compete at World Educational Robot Competition held in Shanghai, China.

The World Educational Robot Competition (known as WER) is an international robot contest for teenagers from 4 to 18. Annually, more than 500,000 contestants from 50 countries participate in WER contests.

Our students, whom have been generously sponsored by Centrecom, Sunshine to attend the competition, are looking forward to their exciting opportunity in the land of the Red Dragon. "I'm really looking forward to the experience and spending time with my robotics teammates but also the atmosphere of the whole event which is going to be huge" says Christian.

Our students will work as a team of 3 using robots made by Abilix a world-leading educational robotics company - to design, build and program a robot to navigate a game mat and solve tasks around the 2018 theme "Information Era". The boys have developed their Team Name 'Robo Roos' and logo, and have been working together in their lunchtime Robotics Club developing their abilities in robot design and programming as well as teamwork and innovation.

Digital Technologies at Marymede Catholic College has gone from strength to strength in the past 3 years thanks to the dedication and commitment of Staff member Ms. Kylie Buttigieg who continues to work on new and innovative programs and opportunities for our students.

Ms. Buttigieg said that these three boys were the ideal candidates to lead Team Marymede in Shanghai due to their longstanding commitment to Robotics Club and the keen enthusiasm and energy they brought to the program. Leo claimed that what he liked most about coding was "solving problems and progressing through different stages of problem solving through using technology", whilst Marc has always had a keen interest in digital technologies: "I remember starting to code around 4 years ago because I just had this fascination with computing and robots".

This year's contest is just the beginning for Marymede, who will host the Australian leg of the WER here on College grounds in 2019 with Ms. Buttigieg's Robotics Crew already training for next year's event.

The Robo Roos will depart for Shanghai, China on December 13 for the two-day competition. We wish them all the very best in their endeavours and acknowledge the support of Centrecom, Sunshine for their sponsorship.

Posted in: curriculum   0 Comments

NSW Takes Lead in Banning Mobile Phones in Schools

Posted on 10 December 2018
NSW Takes Lead in Banning Mobile Phones in Schools
Mobile phones will be banned in NSW primary schools, and high schools will get more power to take smart devices off students.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday announced the measures would come into affect from next year, in a plan to cut class distractions and online bullying.

Phones will be banned during school hours in public primary schools, while high schools will be able to choose to opt into a ban.

The move an Australian first is in response to a review by child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, commissioned by the education department in June.

It found growing cases of online bullying, inappropriate sharing of explicit images between students, predatory behaviour from strangers and unnecessary distraction for students.

The education department will provide guidelines to schools about exactly how the ban will work.

Parents can request to have children's phones kept somewhere to be accessed before or after school.

"Of course if there are exceptions that can be negotiated on an individual basis," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Thursday.

"But I think it's a very strong and important message to send."

In a statement, Ms Berejiklian said the move would "ensure technology remains an enabler, not a detractor".

"Distraction and bullying have always been issues for schools to deal with but mobile phones present a new challenge," she said.

"We want to ensure mobile phones and other smart devices complement students' learning, and are handled at school in an age-appropriate way."

Education Minister Rob Stokes said the government would work with high schools to help manage the risks.

Dr Carr-Gregg's review received almost 14,000 survey responses and 80 written submissions.

"I'd like to particularly thank the many thousands of young people and their families who took the time and effort to make submissions, as well as the many experts in mental health, technology and cyber-safety who contributed to this report," Dr Carr-Gregg said.

The review examined the impact of devices in schools on students of different ages, as well as their potential benefits.

The government will consider its other recommendations.

The NSW mobile phone ban in schools would be the first move of the kind in the country.

Former Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy in February proposed to ban mobile phones in classrooms for all students.

He said the policy would be limited to class time.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews responded saying the decision should be left up to individual schools.

In September, the French government banned mobile phones during school hours for students under the age of 15.

Posted in: wellbeing   0 Comments

Aid vs Development - How CaSPA is helping in South Sudan

Posted on 9 December 2018
Aid vs Development - How CaSPA is helping in South Sudan

We have all heard the truism that if you give a poor person a fish you feed them for a day - teach them to fish and you feed them for life...

That is the essential difference between AID and DEVELOPMENT. The former is short term, the latter hopefully can bring about long term and sustainable change. With this in mind CaSPA has committed support to training female students at the Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio. We are supporting this project in part because of the Australian connection to a number of the staff at the College.  One of them - Br Bill Firman has provided this outline of the yearly budget of the work undertaken by the Solidarity Team in Sudan. We are highly appreciative of this feedback which confirms that donations to this very worthy cause are use for their intended purposes.

Naturally you are encouraged to add your personal and/or school support to this very worthy cause.  Just contact Br Bill on


The Engine Room

Usually, twice each year, I go to Rome for meetings of the Solidarity Board, the Solidarity Finance committee and to consult with our Rome office staff and our fundraising personnel. So it was that two weeks ago in Rome these meetings took place, including our Annual Solidarity Assembly to which all the contributing congregations that make up Solidarity are invited. Also present were some of the former personnel who had served with Solidarity during the past ten years and some of our donor/partners. It was a very supportive and encouraging gathering attended by 95 people. A highlight of the celebration was a video presentation by Paul Jeffrey on the mission of Solidarity among the people of South Sudan. Instead of providing some photos, as I usually do, I invite you to go to the link and watch the 16 minute vimeo on 'A decade of Solidarity'. Paul depicts very well the spirit of Solidarity and our ministry among the people here.

I attach also a couple of articles recently written by Paul that describe our Mission and the situation in South Sudan. He is a great, voluntry supporter.
A former Superior General of our Brothers used to say quite pointedly, even while directing our efforts to help the poor and marginalised, ' No money, no mission!' I usually write about what we are experiencing and what we are doing but the fact is that we are only able to be in South Sudan because of extraordinary support from individuals, religious congregations and donor/partners.

The Solidarity Board has approved a recurrent budget of US$2.604,238 for 2019 and a capital budget of $875,388.

The budget for training approximately 120 nurses or midwives in the Catholic Health Training Institute in Wau has been set at $789,455

while training a similar number of teachers in the Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio will require $591,231.

Our Agriculture Training programme in Riimenze will cost $179,246

while another $117,264 is budgeted for assisting the Internally Displaced people in Riimenze.

For pastoral programmes the Solidarity budget figure is $81,600 but there are other funds also secured in the name of, and accounted for by our Pastoral Team, in the names of various diocesan projects.

Then there is $64,880 to be used in Distance Education where we go out to more remote locations to offer in- service teacher training.

General administration, payment of taxes and National Superannuation Insurance in Juba, humanitarian aid and assistance to local congregations requires a budget of $411,810.

Other smaller expenditures are on the clinic in Riimenze and food distribution programmes in Juba as well as supporting a school run by graduates and volunteers in one of the Protection of Civilian camps in Juba.

The Board approves items in the capital budget specifically only when a donor can be found. So far we have secured funding to build a sixth dormitory in the CHTI that will enable us to reach our goal of equal numbers of male and female students and an increased student population of 140. We also have funding for a multi-purpose shelter in the CTI that will be used for outdoor study, graduations, classes and dining. We are seeking further capital funding for both the CHTI and STTC to provide more staff accommodation.
What about Income?

Based on this year's figures and funds already secured, we expect to receive

$1,616,302 from donor/partners,

$749,000 through Congregations, $62,500 in tuition fees,

$58,000 from private donors and

other income (mostly gleaned from currency exchange rate differential) of $138,500.

To completely fund the budget, including capital, we would need to secure another $854,000; but capital projects can be delayed if necessary Funding is looking good for 2019.
These funds are generated by our Solidarity Office in Rome (4 persons, equivalent to 3.2 full-time) and the Friends in Solidarity office in the USA (one person). These people are our engine room generating the resources so that we can deliver the services. They generate the funds, track them, account for them (with assistance from our Finance office in Juba and the other locations) and report back to donors.
This is an essential task that is handled so well that we now have genuine credibility with donors leading to several multi-annual agreements that are now in place. We are operating on a sound fiscal base thanks to this very good work. My estimate is that of the total projected budget of $3,479,627, the amount used for administration is $390,000 and the rest (88%) goes into service delivery.
Supervising all this and setting directions is the Solidarity Board comprised by 13 members, most from religious congregations but including one lay person and one representative of the South Sudan Catholic Bishops. Their work is thorough, unpaid and requiring a considerable commitment of time and energy. The minutes of the Finance committee meeting held before the Board were 13 pages. My report to the Board was 20 pages, with many other supporting documents, all to be read before the meeting. The minutes of the Board meeting are 21 pages long while the General Assembly minutes are a relatively small 7 pages. Board members have to read these carefully. As Executive Director, I am also the secretary producing all these documents for meetings; but the Board has put in place Statutes, a Strategic Plan, Governance Manual, Personnel Handbook and a Finance Manual. None of us are tourists when in Rome. Currently the Board is embarking upon a Monitoring and Evaluation exercise that will help us to analyze our impact on South Sudan. I think we can claim to have good governance the outcome of considerable work over the past decade.
To complete the analogy, one could say that the Board holds the steering wheel of the vehicle, 'Solidarity' while the Rome Solidarity offices and the USA FiS office are the engine rooms. I guess I am the drive shaft connecting to the four wheels of our service delivery: the training of heath professionals. teachers, pastoral agents and farmers. The road may be a bit rocky at times but our vehicle is strong enough to handle it as long as we have the right fuel money! No money no mission in South Sudan.
Christmas blessings to all, especially those who support and share our mission. Br Bill

Posted in: Identity Social Justice   0 Comments

Change at the Top of AITSL

Posted on 8 December 2018
Change at the Top of AITSL

Above: Lisa Rodgers met with the CaSPA Board at their 2018 May Meeting

Although only having been CEO of AITSL for a short period, Lisa Rodgers brought energy and an engaging candidacy to the role. She was a very accessible leader of AITSL and worked hard to build strong rapport with stakeholders. CaSPA Directors had a number of opportunities to work with Lisa via our Board Meetings and also as members of a number of AITSL committees. 

CaSPA wishes Lisa all the best as she takes up her new role as outlined in the following letter we received on Friday:

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to let you know that I have been appointed to the position of Director General, Department of Education in Western Australia and begin on Monday, 28 January 2019.

I am honoured to be taking on this role.

I applied for this position because education is at the heart of supporting children and young people to be the best they can be, and, like in previous roles, I wanted to have a more direct impact on the learning lives of students in WA.

It is an education system in good shape, having been led by one of Australia's most accomplished public servants and an exceptional leadership team.  There will be challenges - and many opportunities - and I'm looking forward to the work ahead.

During my time at AITSL, our organisations have worked well together.  We have built and strengthened relationships that have ultimately served the profession.

Thank you for your support and partnership.  

The AITSL team are extraordinary and will continue to support you, and the school leaders you support, without hesitation.

I remain committed to the national work that supports the profession in the pursuit of impact and outcomes for students.

Enjoy your holidays,


Lisa Rodgers
Chief Executive Officer

Posted in: AITSL   0 Comments

Award-winning CaSPA school goes from strength to strength

Posted on 7 December 2018
Award-winning CaSPA school goes from strength to strength

Above: Marco Di Cesare with students from Caroline Chisolm College

In June, the College's principal, Marco Di Cesare, was nominated for The Educator's School Principal of the Year - Non-government award for the personal impact he has made as a coach, mentor, guide, role model and school leader.    
Two months later, the College won an Employer of Choice Award in the 2018 Australian Business Awards, which recognise organisations which have developed leading workplaces that maximise the full potential of their workforce.
Over the last five years, the College has worked hard across key areas of the organisation, including culture, leadership, faith formation, professional development and training, employee well-being, safety, performance management and recognition and remuneration.

A focus on inspiration

Di Cesare says that in the year ahead, the College will aim to build on the significant work it has already done to ensure that it remains not only an employer or choice but the best possible learning environment for its children.
"Our theme this year was 'to inspire'; inspire ourselves to be the best we are called to be and those around us," Di Cesare told The Educator.
"We certainly saw this at the start with strong VCE results from our 2017 cohort and the way students have gone about their year in general."
Di Cesare said the College has also made a conscious effort to increase awareness among students of doing their part to be more sustainable.
In 2018, the College received its first star from Sustainability Victoria and the ResourceSmart School Program, which assists schools to embed sustainability throughout their teaching and learning environments.
Di Cesare said there have been several other highlights for the College this year.
"Our impressive NAPLAN Reading results that showed our growth was double that of the state average," he said.
"These results showed our growth was double that of the state average."
Di Cesare also lauded the fact that CCCC was the only Catholic school to have received the 2018 Employer of Choice Award.
The College also performed strongly in the arts, with its student-led musical, 'The Wiz'.
"This was a real highlight for our community and showcased the level of talent from our students, both on stage and behind the scenes," Di Cesare said.
"Again, this was another way we 'inspired' each other."

'Representing the community at large'

Di Cesare said that being a finalist for the Australian Education Awards' Principal of the Year (Non-government) was "an honour and a great privilege to represent our community at large".
In 2019, Di Cesare said he intends to drive the success of the College forward by continuing its robust learning programs and personalised pathways.
"Also, we are looking to expand our family and community engagement with local primary schools, alumni and other members of community with a new role," he said.
"It's important we maintain regular and clear communications with them and that they see the role we play in our young people's education."
Di Cesare said one of the challenges most schools face - and something that isn't unique to only CCCC - is the shift in how it delivers learning and teaching programs so that students are prepared as future citizens.
"This is everything from how we deal with technology in the classroom to integrated curriculums, where students are learning about topics or areas that carry into their other subjects," he said.
"However, I'm optimistic that the opportunities we have in schools will always outweigh the challenges."

Related stories:
Principal takes mentoring to the next level
School awarded as 2018 Employer of Choice

Posted in: Leadership Catholic Secondary Principals Australia   0 Comments
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