Principal’s Message: Term 4, Week 1, 2021

“If we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another.” 1 John 1:7

To the family and friends of St Edmund’s College,

Return to School Transition Schedule
This week we welcome back our Year 12 students to the College.  Whilst they are continuing their remote learning, we have invited them to physically attend the College so they can meet with their friends and be in more of a social learning environment than they would at home.

All parents and carers were recently emailed with our return to school transition plan, based on the schedule set for us by the ACT Government.  This is a brief summary of the schedule.  I would ask that you refer to the last two emails distributed to parents and carers for more specific information.

  • Year 12 Tuesday 5 October (Term 4, Week 1)

Remote learning continues during Weeks 1 & 2; Year 12 students are invited to physically attend school if they wish. Year 12 Tertiary students must physically attend school on Thursday 7 October (AST preparation); Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 October (AST).  There will be no classes for Accredited students on these days.  Full QCity Transit services will operate during this time; Transport Canberra Services will be limited.  Please check the Transport Canberra timetable.

  • Years 11 & 12 Tuesday 19 October (Term 4, Week 3)

Face-to-face teaching resumes at school for all Year 11 and Year 12 students on Tuesday 19 October (Monday 18 October is a scheduled study day). Full QCity Transit services will operate during this time; Transport Canberra Services will be limited.  Please check the Transport Canberra timetable.

  • Years 6, 9, & 10: Monday 25 October (Term 4, Week 4)

Full QCity and Transport Canberra transit services will operate from this date. More specific details about the return to school will be sent to parents and carers closer to this date.

  • Years 4, 5, 7 & 8: Monday 1 November (Term 4, Week 5)

More specific details about the return to school will be sent to parents and carers closer to this date.

Once students physically return to school, we will offer only one mode of learning, i.e. face to face teaching and learning.

General: Please note that the only students who will be at school outside of this schedule are students of essential workers and vulnerable students whose parents and carers have been contacted by the College. We would ask that you contact the College to inform us of your son’s attendance if this applies to you (email studentservices@stedmunds.act.edu.au ). Students attending the College during this time must be in school uniform. The Canteen will be open, but we prefer that students pre-order via Canvas.

Masks: According to ACT Health orders, students in Year 7 to Year 12 will be required to bring and wear a mask whilst on school grounds, this includes being in the building and outside, except when students are eating, drinking or involved in rigorous physical activity.  Members of staff will also be required to wear a mask.  Students in Years 4, 5 and 6 are encouraged to wear masks but this is not mandatory.


  • Year 12:We have been advised to remind students to organise their vaccination if not yet done so. Bookings can be made by calling the COVID line 51247700 and by advising the operator of your son’s priority category. Follow this link for more specific details.
  • Other students: Families may be aware that recently the ACT Government announced that from Monday 20 September all children in the ACT aged 12 years and over are able to book a Pfizer vaccination appointment at an ACT Government clinic. ACT Health advises that there are two vaccines approved for 12 to 15-year-olds in Australia, with Pfizer available from participating GPs already and Moderna expected to be available from participating pharmacies from 20 September. Follow this link for further information

Ventilation: The advice provided to us is that given the age of our buildings, we can rely on natural ventilation processes. Older schools such as ours were designed to maximise light and airflow with larger rooms, high ceilings and big windows, resulting in very good airflow (unlike newer school buildings which often rely on mechanical ventilation). The school is naturally ventilated, with good ventilation in our spaces depending on having windows (in classrooms and corridors) and doors open.  Staff members will be trained in adopting good ventilation practices such as ensuring that windows open easily, operating air conditioners properly (in those few spaces where they must be in operation) and maximising airflow within particular buildings.

We will also conduct an audit of all spaces within the College and where we deem a space unsatisfactory in terms of ventilation, the space will not be used until it can be rectified.

In the few spaces where air conditioning must be used, this will be monitored regularly by our maintenance company and, where we can, we will ensure there is always a supply of fresh outdoor air through the air conditioning units.  Again, where this is not possible, the space will not be used.

These practices, alongside enhanced cleaning, sanitising practices, hygiene supplies, face masks, staff vaccinations and school site restrictions will provide a safe setting for students when they return.

Visiting the College: Parents, carers and guests must not enter the College grounds except for an essential reason. Any visit must be arranged with a staff member from the College prior to the visit, but again only for an essential reason.  All other communications will take place through other means, e.g. telephone calls, emails, video conferencing.


EREA Child Safeguarding Standards
Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) and St Edmund’s College Canberra are committed to creating an environment in which the safety, wellbeing and participation of all children and young people are paramount.  We have zero tolerance of child abuse and all allegations and safety concerns are treated very seriously in line with our robust policies and procedures. EREA and St Edmund’s College have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously.

EREA has responded proactively to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by developing a set of Child Safeguarding Standards. The EREA Child Safeguarding Standards Framework is designed to further enhance a culture within St Edmund’s College and all EREA schools wherein protecting children and young people from abuse and other harm, and the promotion of child safety, participation, empowerment and wellbeing, are embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of our leaders, staff and volunteers.

The EREA Child Safeguarding Standards ensure accountability for the protection and safety of the children and young people under our care. St Edmund’s College and all EREA schools and entities are held accountable to the Child Safeguarding Standards and we will regularly report to EREA on how these standards are being addressed here.

Throughout this term I will share with you the EREA Child Safeguarding Standards Framework. The purpose and intent of the Standards contained in this Framework are to embed a culture of child safety and wellbeing by demonstrating values in practice, nurturing the wellbeing of all children and young people, respecting their dignity, ensuring their safety and protecting them from abuse and other harm. This we do, at all times, by acting in the best interests of children and young people under our care.  The Framework should be read alongside the EREA Child Safeguarding Policy which can be found here, and the St Edmund’s College Canberra Commitment to Child Safety which can be found here.  The entire EREA Child Safeguarding Standards Framework can be found here.

This week we commence by exploring Standards 1 and 2.

STANDARD 1: COMMITTED LEADERSHIP, GOVERNANCE AND CULTURE.  Child safeguarding is embedded in the leadership, governance and culture of St Edmund’s College.

It is the expectation that St Edmund’s College has strategies to embed and enhance a culture of child safety and wellbeing throughout the leadership, governance and culture of the College.

Rationale: The culture at EREA consists of the collective values and practices that guide the attitudes and behaviour of EREA school communities. A positive child focused culture helps to keep children and young people safe. Leadership at St Edmund’s College and at the EREA Head Office plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a culture where safety and wellbeing of children and young people is central to the operation. This is the responsibility of Staff, Volunteers and Contractors at all levels. Governance, or the systems, structures and policies that control the way that EREA and St Edmund’s College operate, also strongly influences culture, practices and decision-making.  Whilst there are some common strategies that may be adopted, each EREA school is unique and must develop and implement strategies to embed or improve on a culture of child safety and wellbeing that meet its own circumstances.

What is St Edmund’s College expected to have in place to comply with Standard 1?  The core components of a child safe culture being embedded in and enhanced by the leadership, governance and culture of St Edmund’s College are:

  1. The College publicly commits to child safeguarding and takes a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse.
  2. Child safeguarding is a shared responsibility and a child safe culture is championed and modelled at all levels of the College community, including from the top down and the bottom up.
  3. Governance arrangements facilitate implementation of the College’s child safeguarding strategies at all levels and across all of the College’s activities.
  4. Child Safe Codes of Conduct provide guidelines for Staff, Volunteers and Contractors on expected behavioural standards and responsibilities.
  5. The College has risk management strategies focused on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children and young people.
  6. Staff, Volunteers and Contractors understand their obligations with respect to mandatory reporting, information sharing and record keeping.

STANDARD 2: CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SAFE, INFORMED AND PARTICIPATE. Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

It is expected that St Edmund’s College has simple and accessible age appropriate processes that:

  • enables children and young people to participate in decisions that affect them,
  • helps children and young people understand what to do if they want to report child safety concerns,
  • enables children and young people to understand their rights and responsibilities as part of the school community.

 Rationale: Establishing an environment of trust and participation at St Edmund’s College is key to maintaining a child safe environment. When children and young people …

  • are engaged and involved in decisions that affect them,
  • can express their views and raise concerns,
  • have their views and opinions taken seriously,
  • are included in policy consultation and development, and
  • know their rights and responsibilities

they are more likely to be able to speak up to raise concerns about child safety. Children and young people need to feel that they will be safe and heard when reporting concerns or allegations of child abuse and other harm. Children and young people may not report abuse and other harm because they feel that they will not be heard or because they do not know how to raise their concerns.

Children and young people also may not report abuse and other harm if the processes for doing so have not taken into account children and young people’s views about their appropriateness. High levels of trust, awareness and simple, accessible processes are required to ensure that children and young people are empowered to disclose abuse and other harm, inappropriate behaviour or concerns about their own safety or the safety of their friends. Additionally, all Staff, Volunteers and Contractors must have an awareness and acceptance of the rights of children and young people and of adult responsibilities with respect to child abuse and other harm.

What is St Edmund’s College expected to have in place to comply with Standard 2?  The core components of children and young people’s participation and empowerment within the College are:

  1. Children and young people are informed about their rights, including those pertaining to safety, information and participation. They are participants in decisions affecting them.
  2. The importance of friendships is recognised and support from peers is encouraged, to help children and young people feel safe and be less isolated.
  3. Children and young people have access to child abuse and harm prevention programs and to relevant related information in an age appropriate way.
  4. The College facilitates child-friendly ways for children and young people to express their views, participate in decision-making and raise their concerns. Staff, as well as Direct Contact and Regular Volunteers/Contractors are attuned to signs of harm.

Next week we will explore Standards 3 and 4.

From now on, when an initiative or program is raised in Vortex or any other College publication or communication, we will explicitly make the connection to the relevant Child Safeguarding Standard so the whole community is aware of how we are meeting our expectations.  We will also post the ways in which we comply with each Standard on our website.

I apologise for this week’s Vortex being very “matter of fact” in its nature, but as you can see there are significant issues which we need to clarify and communicate.  Hopefully we can soon go back to the Vortex being a little more personal and relational in its nature.

Loving Jesus,
During this new term, we pray that whilst we prepare for a physical return to school,
we carry Your light within us.
We pray that Your light never fades within us;
let our focus always be on You in every environment we enter,
whether it be online or face to face.
We know that we may sometimes face difficulties,
but Lord You are faithful to deliver us from them all.
We know that this term we will be successful and we will overcome all things
because Your Word tells us so.

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts, forever.

Joe Zavone
Christus Lux Mea