Revealed: Lockdown Arts Festival Winners

Sydney Catholic Schools Lockdown Arts Festival

We’re excited to share with you the winners of Sydney Catholic Schools’ Lockdown Arts Festival.

Themed Looking outwards from a life in lockdown, the festival celebrates the joy, creativity, optimism and resilience of our Sydney Catholic Schools’ community during the pandemic.

Launched during lockdown, our Sydney Catholic Schools’ students, families and staff submitted more than 900 creative works showcasing their incredible creative talent.

Please CLICK ON THE CATEGORY NAMES BELOW to see, hear and read the amazing works of all our category winners and highly commended artists.

Dance 
CONTEMPORARY
Classical
Visual Arts
Painting and Drawing
Photography
Sculptural
Drama
Monologue/Duologue
Scenes from a Play
Literature
Poem
Short Story
Music
Original Composition
Performance

Congratulations to all of our winners and participants. You really have done us proud!

Wellbeing: The Sydney Catholic Schools approach

two hands with rosary

A legacy of care unique to Catholic education has laid the foundations for a robust and positive approach to wellbeing at Sydney Catholic Schools.

A HISTORY OF PASTORAL CARE

Catholic schools became synonymous with pastoral care in the 1980s when many adopted the work of Marist Brother and member of Little Brothers of Mary (FMS), Brother Kevin Treston.

The educator and author’s book, Pastoral Care for Schools, quickly became favoured for its philosophy of care across all aspects of school life.

It asked teachers to recognise and develop each child’s individual gifts and emphasised forming positive relationships.

Pastoral care is the integration of the academic, social and religious dimensions of a school so that an atmosphere of care prevails within the school community.

“Pastoral Care was a marker of Catholic school; then, with the emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, the language changed,” said Sydney Catholic Schools’ Manager: Student Wellbeing and Learning, Stephen Said.

“Pastoral care included making sure that every child had a friend, they weren’t bullied and there was peer support available.

stephen said image
Sydney Catholic Schools’ Manager: Student Wellbeing and Learning, Stephen Said.

“As we’ve become more vigilant to mental health needs, the field of wellbeing has got even more rigour about it” – Stephen Said

“Today, under a wellbeing focus, we have staff who are registered mental health practitioners with various qualifications in counselling, social work and psychology,” Mr Said explained.

“The Student Wellbeing Team also consists of educators with extensive knowledge and experience in maintaining the positive relationships that underpin learning and a cohesive family life.

“Wellbeing and positive relationships are seen as integral to learning.

“When referring to pastoral care and wellbeing one has really morphed into the other.

“But we can very confidently say that Catholic schools have a long tradition in pastoral care that has served our schools really well, and is addressing the current challenges families face.”

CHARISM AND CARE

A school’s Catholic charism and values often add another layer to the wellbeing approach of individual schools within the Archdiocese of Sydney.

“There is always something in the different charisms that underpins the philosophy within the school,” remarked Mr Said.

For example, Saint Mary Mackillop’s famous saying “Never see a need” advocates compassion and action. Presentation Sister, Nano Nagle’s motto “In deed, not word” encourages positive action.

“Schools will unpack their motto, and what it means for day-to-day life and relationships,” explained Mr Said. “They will drill down and really embed what that means for their school community.”

WELLBEING: GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Sydney Catholic Schools’ student wellbeing policy acknowledges that wellbeing is central to learning effectively and that learning, in turn, supports wellbeing.

It is informed by the Australian Student Wellbeing and Be You frameworks that aim to promote and protect positive mental health in children and young people nationally.

Sydney Catholic school students can access counsellors employed through CatholicCare – the social service agency of the Archdiocese of Sydney – or directly by the system, i.e. Sydney Catholic Schools.

“Every one of our schools is supported by a fully-qualified school counsellor,” explained Mr Said.

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID

Mental health first aid is the help provided to someone who is developing a mental health problem, has a worsening of an existing mental health problem or is in a mental health crisis.

This type of first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received, or the crisis resolves.

Since the first 180 teachers from Sydney Catholic Schools became accredited Youth Mental Health First Aid providers in 2016, many others have completed the internationally recognised two-day course.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course covers where and how to get help for a young person aged 12 to 18 with poor mental health.

Depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders and substance misuse are discussed in depth, along with how to respond to traumatic events, suicidal thoughts, self harm and other mental health crises.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Specialist: Student Wellbeing and Learning, Wendy Howlett, said teachers are trained to recognise the signs of these conditions and intervene early.

RECOGNISING THE SIGNS

“What we are looking for are major changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which disrupt or impact on their day-to-day functioning over a period of time,” Ms Howlett said.

“As an example, there are psychological symptoms of anxiety: excessive fear and worry, decreased concentration and memory, indecisiveness, irritability, confusion, sleep disturbances. There are also behavioural and physical symptoms.

“Schools and teachers provide connection, inclusion, explicit teaching of social and emotional skills and are in a position to intervene early and seek further support if there are indicators of concern.”

By: JADE RAMIREZ

Wellbeing and learning after lockdown

How to overcome perfectionism

A boy studying at home

Is your child excessively self-critical, afraid of doing a task ‘wrong’ or prone to taking a while to bounce back from disappointment? They could be struggling with perfectionism.

Jan Robinson speaks regularly to students and teachers about the difference between ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ perfectionism, as part of her role within Sydney Catholic Schools’ Research and Innovation team.

She said the myth of the “perfect life” is pervasive, and “perception can be as hampering as reality” if it has as much bearing on your behaviour – or your child’s.

“There is a perceived need to always be reaching for more” – Jan Robinson

“Often we feel some responsibility to be publicly showcasing how healthy, fit, beautiful, clever, or skilled we are. But perfectionism is not always negative,” Mrs Robinson said.

“It’s a multi-faceted trait that varies from the healthy to the unhealthy.

“Understanding where behaviours fall on that spectrum can determine whether it is supporting a child’s learning, or creating barriers to it.”

SIGNS OF HEALTHY VS. UNHEALTHY PERFECTIONISM

A healthy dose of perfectionism can help us learn and achieve, but too much can lead to pressure and procrastination.

‘Healthy’ perfectionism is when students: 

  • Strive for excellence and are satisfied with their personal best
  • See success as a mix of effort and ability
  • Allow for limitations and imperfections
  • Accept failures and keep perspective when they are frustrated by failure

‘Unhealthy’ perfectionism is when students: 

  • Have excessively high standards for themselves and others
  • Focus too much on mistakes
  • Avoid taking risks
  • Show self doubt, poor organisational skills, and procrastinate
  • Believe their parents expect too much, and may expect parents’ criticism
  • Think their self worth is equal to their grades

PARENTS: FIVE WAYS TO DEAL WITH PERFECTIONISM

Here are some ways you can support your child if perfectionism is starting to affect their learning and life.

  • Examine your own behaviour

Mrs Robinson said parents’ behaviour can unintentionally promote or support perfectionistic behaviour.

“The message a parent believes they are giving is sometimes seen or heard as something quite different by their child,” she said.

“If parents never show flaws, struggles or even failures, they are modelling perceived perfection”

“If parents put focus on achievement rather than the ‘learning’ that has happened, it may suggest that grades equal worth.

“Sometimes a parent’s encouragement to work hard is interpreted as a desire for perfection. 

“The feelings it can evoke in a student? Double failure. They failed to be best, and failed someone they love.”

One way to avoid this is to acknowledge stress and show your child how you overcome it in a positive way. 

Consider how to model acceptance of shortcomings or mistakes – your own, or those of others. 

Laugh at yourself, share your faults. 

Try not to do everything for your child, as a perfectionist may interpret this as implying they can’t do it well enough themselves.

  • Provide emotional support

Acknowledge and respect your child’s feelings, both positive and negative. 

Give unconditional love that is unrelated to behaviours, successes or failures, and show love for who they are as a person.

Encourage the understanding that working through conflict in friendships is normal and may be part of developing deeper bonds, rather than a reason to abandon a friendship.

Teach them to keep frustrations and mistakes in perspective.

  • Communicate openly and honestly with your child

Give praise when needed and deserved, and reprimand for major issues only. The rest of the time, discuss and negotiate ways to improve or move forward.

Encourage your child to admit to problems or personal difficulties and see them as a part of life that can be responded to, rather than fretted about.

Be aware of giving unspoken or implied criticism, such as using a disapproving tone of voice, a frown, a raised eyebrow.

Remind your child from an early age that there is no such thing as ‘perfect’, and that it is more important to try their best.

  • Encourage realistic goals

Hands hold letters spelling the word goals. photo by creativeartSetting goals that are possible to achieve but still carry a hint of challenge is the ideal. 

A child’s confidence benefits from the boost achieving a goal can give. 

“Practice setting goals that have small, incremental increases in their level of challenge may support greater willingness to undertake challenges by reducing a fear of failure,” Mrs Robinson said.

  • Provide opportunities to build resilience

Encourage your child to be an ‘explorer’ of life. Give them safe but broad parameters to try new things –  whether a food, hobby, skill or experiencing a new place – and let them go.

They’ll discover that trial and error is a valid way to learn new things, and that a mistake can teach more than immediately finding the right way can.

It also empowers them as they experience a time when they have control over their life.

PERFECTIONISM IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

“An article published in early 2021 addressed the importance of students today developing ‘tolerance of uncertainty’, which is very relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mrs Robinson said.

“It stresses the great value that ‘the ability to act despite unknowns, complexities or incongruences’ can have for students in learning and in life.”

Another help is to give students the opportunity to see that, in some situations or tasks, there is more than a single way to achieve success.

“Learning that there can be multiple correct alternatives can be very liberating,” Mrs Robinson said.

By: JADE RAMIREZ

Spirituality and wellbeing during COVID-19