Principal’s Message: Term 4, Week 2, 2020

To the families and friends of the St Edmund’s community,

The performances for this year’s musical Beauty and the Beast have commenced.  Last Friday’s opening night performance was a great hit and we continue with the performances into this week.  My wife and I are very much looking forward to being a part of the audience later this week and enjoying watching our students perform for us.  I congratulate all involved in the musical for their perseverance and commitment as the number of performances this year has increased significantly this year due to the limited seating capacity in the current COVID environment.

Mr Nigel Palfeman (Head of Creative and Performing Arts) received this lovely email following Friday evening’s performance – a great testament to the fine work and preparation of the cast and crew:

I’ll preface this email by saying that I hold all theatre to a very high standard, and as such am very hard to please.  I came to see Beauty and the Beast on Friday night, and I just wanted to write in and congratulate the cast and crew on an absolutely fantastic performance.

The show was easily one of the best I have seen in the last few years, and certainly the best school production I have ever seen. I understand that putting on a musical at a time like this must be difficult (and I can only imagine the number of sleepless nights endured by yourself and many others), so the fact that it came together in such a stunning way is testament to the dedication and skill of everyone involved. I recommended the show to everyone I know, and even looked to come again another night, only to see that the run was sold out. I hold faith that every person who will come to see your booked-out show are in for a joyous night, and will be led through laughter and tears by a hugely talented cast.

The ensemble worked together incredibly well – I could tell there was a huge amount of chemistry and that everyone was enjoying themselves on stage. This made the larger scenes look smooth and effortless instead of clunky. The energy was maintained throughout the entire show, and this only added to the passion that was already evident on stage. At not one point did I see anyone lose energy or break character.

I must give a special shout-out to the leads, all of whom could easily pass as professional singers. Belle’s voice was stunning and blew me away whenever she started singing. The Beast looked natural to the role, and nailed if I Can’t Love Her. Cogsworth weaved personality into her songs, and everything from her voice to her gait demonstrated an attention to character that was very impressive for a school production. She also bounced off Lumiere very well, and the two made an excellent comedic duo. Lumiere’s antics and songs (and accent) on stage had me in tears of laughter throughout. Mrs Potts gave a gorgeous rendition of Tale as Old as Time, and I even heard the couple behind me gasp at how well she sung.

I know I’ve missed a whole host of fantastic performers, but that really just points to how much talent was concentrated into a single show. The entire cast and crew (and yourself) should be incredibly proud of the show you put on. The blood, sweat and tears that I’m sure went into it paid off.

EREA School Renewal

For three days last week the College underwent the EREA School Renewal process.  On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of last week we welcomed representatives of Edmund Rice Education Australia and from Catholic Education Canberra -Goulburn Archdiocese.  The EREA School Renewal is a comprehensive process leading to continuous improvement in key areas of school life related to the EREA Charter and Touchstones.  The School Renewal presents a structure of accountability to the Church, the Christian Brothers and EREA about the Catholicity and expression of charism within the College.  There is also a secondary accountability with the outcome of the Renewal being reported to the EREA Board.

The Renewal Panel examined a number of our major documents and policies and they met with representative groups of staff, students, parents, ex-students and College Board.  I particularly thank our parents and ex-students for taking the time out of their day to join the Panel.   The Panel presented its recommendations to the College Leadership Team we will work to incorporate these recommendations into our Strategic Plan and Annual School Improvement Plan.

I am pleased to say that the outcomes of the School Renewal were extremely positive.  There was a great sense of affirmation of the many programs and initiatives we have in place for our students and community, and an acknowledgement of the wonderful hard work undertaken by our staff for our students.  The School Renewal Panel emphasised two areas with us – that we are truly a student-centred school as all of our decisions always have the best interests of our students at their core, and that our “staff consider St Edmund’s as an embodiment of the contemporary Catholic Church where the Gospel is lived in both attitudes and relationships.”

I have summarised the commendations and recommendations from the Panel for you below.  It is very heartening to know that even the recommendations affirm what we do and are positive in nature – basically the panel affirmed that we have a great number of positive initiatives and programs but we need to bundle them together and provide an overarching framework for them.

Summary of commendations emerging from the School Renewal (categorised within the EREA Charter Touchstones):

Liberating EducationGospel SpiritualityInclusive CommunityJustice and Solidarity
*Gifted and Talented Program

*Focus on higher order thinking

*Staff commitment to professional learning

* Culture of staff collaborative practice

*Our learning support services

*Providing an agile curriculum for our students

* Putting students at the centre

* Our investment in technology to support learning


* Our strategic approach to student formation

* The value we place on history & tradition

* The strength of our Mission Team

* The annual scriptural theme

* Our authenticity of Gospel Values and commitment to the EREA Touchstones

* Our commitment to the retreat program

* The strength of our parish relationships

* The quality of relationships within the community with staff and with students.

*The initiatives for our Aboriginal students

* A commitment to inclusive enrolment

* The strong sense of brotherhood amongst students and ex-students

*Our commitment to affordability of school fees

*The strong sense of Eddies Pride in all members of the community

* Our Student Wellbeing structure

* Our commitment to being a Safe and Inclusive school

* Our authentic Social Justice Framework

* Our global connections with other schools and immersion experiences

* Our movement towards developing a School Reconciliation Action Plan

* The strong sense of student voice

* Our commitment to ecological sustainability

* Our engagement with local justice initiatives

* Our restorative practices

* The school wide systemic approach to justice and peace

General recommendations emerging from the School Renewal

  • The College Strategic Vision be further developed to include targets for the full strategic cycle
  • The Annual School Improvement Plan include targets
  • A Teaching and Learning Framework is developed building on the current Teaching and Learning (6Cs) Statement.
  • A Wellbeing Framework be developed which articulates the guiding principles on which the College approach to wellbeing is based.
  • A Professional Learning Framework be developed which is explicitly linked to the AITSL Standards and the Strategic Vision of College.

Recommendations specifically for Student Wellbeing:

St Edmund’s College Canberra offers a wide range of programs that support the wellbeing of its students. This has been affirmed by students and parents who commend staff for their commitment and care.  There is a further need to consolidate this strength through the development of a strategically aligned Wellbeing Framework.  It is recommended that:

  • The Statement of Eddie’s Pride is reflected in all documentation and is explicitly unpacked so that it becomes part of school culture
  • The Better Man Project (currently for school leaders) is extended to include other students
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement and education continue and the Pacifika Program be strengthened
  • Classroom Behaviour Management Guidelines are used in a consistent manner by all staff

Recommendations specifically for extending, challenging and supporting learners:

St Edmund’s College Canberra offers a wide range of programs that support the learning journey of its students. This has been affirmed by students and parents who commend staff for their commitment to quality education. There is a further need to consolidate this strength through the development of a Teaching and Learning Framework which provides a context for existing programs to be evaluated, refined and aligned to the strategic vision of the College.  It is recommended that:

  • Whole School Literacy is articulated as foundational to all learning
  • Higher Order Thinking and Metacognition remains a priority and a feature of all learning programs
  • The Elevated Learning program continues
  • The Diverse Learning model be aligned with the Teaching and Learning Framework
  • The Gifted and Talented program is reviewed with a particular emphasis on wellbeing
  • Consideration be given to a formalised Careers Education Program and the development of the Connected Learning Course for senior students

Recommendations specifically for identity:

Throughout its long history, St Edmund’s has maintained a strong identity within the Canberra educational landscape. Current and former members of the College community speak with great pride about the rich history and traditions that characterise a St Edmund’s education and there is a desire that these traditions continue into the future. Parents value the holistic approach to the education of their sons and the prominence given to supporting their wellbeing. Staff members enjoy working at the College and the collaborative approach of the College Leadership Team is highly valued. The significant contribution of the Principal is also acknowledged and is seen as a major factor in the school successfully navigating the challenges of the online learning environment in 2020. The College Board is very strategic in its approach to helping the school plan for the future and respond to the challenges of changing demographics. An opportunity now exists for the school to showcase its successes in the broader educational community and further refine its priorities to ensure that the community is very clear about what the College values and sees as important in a vibrant, contemporary and innovative Catholic school.  It is recommended that the College:

  • Develops a targeted promotions strategy that highlights specific initiatives and priorities
  • Reinforces the importance of the conduct and presentation of the students as the College’s best advertisement
  • Reviews the Master Plan to incorporate upgrading existing facilities
  • Continues to offer multiple learning pathways and explore opportunities to celebrate these in the broader community
  • Actively promotes its successful business and tertiary partnerships (including the offer of an apprenticeship to a large number of St Edmund’s students)
  • Continues to work collaboratively with EREA in responding to the changing demographics
  • Investigates alternative funding streams to support the learning needs of students
  • Maintains a strong connection with St Clare’s College

Year 12 Events

We always endeavour to do the very best by our students in all that we do at the College.  This endeavour has been particularly difficult and challenging this year within the COVID environment and with the restrictions that we face.  This has affected our musical, the Rugby Grand Final, the Heritage Day, our parent / teacher meetings, our social events for student groups, our social justice activities, Junior School camps, special parent events and many other activities and events.  Unfortunately it seems that our Year 12 students are bearing the brunt of the effect of these restrictions.  Late last week we informed the parents of our Year 12 students of our plans for Year 12 Graduation events.  It is absolutely impossible for us to follow our traditional Graduation plans – we cannot have our Graduation Mass at the Cathedral because of the restrictions of numbers there and we cannot have the Graduation Dinner because of the same reason.  We have decided to move as many of these events to within the school.  Whilst this frees us up a little, we still face the restriction of having our guests distanced at 1 person per 4 square metres.  As a result, we can only have one parent per student attend our Graduation events.  This is bitterly disappointing – we are the kind of College who welcomes as many guests and visitors as possible to celebrate our students’ achievements; we believe in community and we always try to include as many members of our community in all that we do.  But like many other events this year, it is impossible for us to organise our Graduation events in the same way as previous years.    We have no choice but to abide by the ACT Health restrictions in terms of spacing.  The changes to Year 12 Graduation this year have disappointed a number of our Year 12 parents, and this disappointment is clearly understandable. This year’s Graduation events have been planned with an extremely heavy heart – it is not our intention to alienate parents in these events. We have sought an exemption from the ACT Government but to no avail. We are hoping that the spacing restrictions will change soon, upon which we will change our arrangements immediately and include more parents at the Graduation events.


Based on Proverbs 16:32

God of Peace,

Your word states that it is better to be a patient person than a warrior;
it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

I pray that I hold my peace and remain patient in all things.

I declare that I will not react out of emotion,
instead I will reflect and wait before I act.

Patience is better to have than power,
so Lord help me remain patient.


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

Mr Joe Zavone
College Principal
Christus Lux Mea

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