Catholic Education South Australia
12 Dec 2016
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Reflections from Helen O'Brien, Director (CESA)

Dear Colleagues and Friends

As we move towards the end of 2016, it is timely to reflect on our year and the work we have undertaken together.

On any account, 2016 has been a marvelous year – one where significant initiatives have been imagined, agreed and commenced. We see the beginnings of significant change in our school structures, preparation for implementation of early years learning centres, commencement of early learning services across a range of locations, alignments of schools and planning for an amalgamation and a new school.

We look with some satisfaction on the work we have done together on determining a new funding formula and policy positions about funding priorities.

We note the new service delivery orientation that has emerged from a redesign of the Catholic Education Office. The office has met the 25% reduction proposed 2 years ago while at the same time taking the opportunity to identify new and more contemporary ways to refine its work, leadership and service. This redesign, and other important aspects of reshaping programs, has enable us to return to schools $25M over these 2 years. This is a significant achievement.

Perhaps most importantly, the deepening relationships that are evident across our sector, among senior leaders in schools and office, are setting the scene for changes that would not have been possible in previous years. This is supporting us to make those difficult decisions for change that are critical for our ongoing success.

All of the developments mentioned here have their source within the Strategy for Leading Catholic Education to New Levels of Excellence, our blueprint for growth and development over the next 5-10 years.

None of these achievements belong to one or even a few people: they are the precious work of many who share common commitments to our Catholic identity, community and especially to students.

This year we launched our sector catchphrase: Every child matters! None of the achievements make sense beyond what matters for those children and young people, and the staff, in our schools. I have had the pleasure of visiting many schools this year and I came away from those experiences invigorated and eager to re-commit myself to my work, which eventually makes a difference to each young person. I am grateful for the hospitality shown at those visits and for being able to see again the passion, dedication and hard work that our people in our communities contribute. It is clear to see that their work makes a difference too.

And so we look forward to 2017! There is much work to be done to ensure that the good plans and developments of this year are further enacted. We will look for other opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our young people and to strengthen Catholic schools and our system. I look forward to being part of this exciting narrative with you during next year.

I am so very grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you – some very closely, and others at a distance. I am continually delighted to be in the presence of the passion and commitment that I see in our people.

As you head into the end of this year, making ready for the wonderful season of Christmas, I wish you every blessing and grace. May you be filled with the hope we draw from remembering the birth of the Christ child. May the light of love shine on you.


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