BCE schools champion every child's right to play and celebrate diverse play traditions


​Holy Cross School Wooloowin students playing First Nations children's games ©Brisbane Catholic Education, Holy Cross School, Wooloowin (2024).

​Leveraging cutting-edge Pre-Prep programs and strategic partnerships, Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) schools are championing the universal right of every child to participate in and celebrate diverse play traditions and experiences. 

From First Nations art and storytelling to cultural play-based activities, St Joseph’s School Murgon and Holy Cross School Wooloowin are committed to culturally safe learning environments where the vibrant ‘interplay’ of play and culture thrives. 

Their approach of honouring each student’s cultural identity aligns with this year’s Under Eights Week (15 to 21 May) theme ‘Connecting to ‘Culture Through Play’.  

St Joseph’s School Principal Justin McCarthy emphasises the transformative power of cultural play, highlighting its role in shaping children's learning, growth, and connectivity, within the school’s Term 4 Pre-Prep program. 

“Through engaging First Nations storytelling and art, our Pre-Prep program fosters cultural awareness and creates an environment where children can freely explore and embrace diverse play experiences,” he said. 

“This year, the school has also embraced BCE's First Nations Language Curriculum after extensive consultation with local Elders.  

“For some of our students, integrating Wakka Wakka language in our school reinforces what they know and understand about their cultures and identities.  

“This presents an invaluable opportunity to foster a sense of connection and familiarity for our future students. 

“Our school’s Indigenous Liaison Officers, also enrich our future student’s educational journeys by promoting every child's fundamental right to participate in and celebrate diverse play traditions. 

“Together our Indigenous Liaison Officers reinforce a sense of belonging and pride in culture at school, strengthening connections to culture. 

“70 per cent of our cohort are First Nations students, we recognise that our duty is not to teach culture but to establish a seamless connection to culture at school.” 

Holy Cross School Principal Simon Mahaffy highlights the significance of cultural play, as the school strengthens its partnership with neighbouring early learning centres, including the recently opened Evolving Minds Early Learning Wooloowin.  

“As part of our Under Eights Week celebrations, we're excited to offer cultural play-based activities to our early years students and neighbouring early learning centres," he said. 

"Our senior primary students will lead sessions featuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s games tailored to our youngest learners. 

“By embracing cultural play, we affirm the importance of honouring our student’s cultural identity within our school community, creating a place where they feel valued and celebrated. 

“Under Eights Week is a reminder of the power of play in nurturing connections and fostering unity within our school and wider community.” 

BCE Research Impact Fellow, Learning and Teaching Services Dr Honor Mackley said "this year’s Under Eights Week is special because it highlights how important early childhood is, especially in how children learn through play”. 

“This year's theme celebrates different cultures and traditions, providing children with the opportunity to explore themselves and others.  

“It offers a context for play that fosters a deeper understanding of the world around them. 

"As a multicultural community of 146 schools, BCE places special emphasis on Under Eights Week this year, recognising its significance for our early years learners, schools, and the broader community." 

About Under Eights Week: 

Under Eights Week was initiated by Early Childhood Australia Queensland, creating a day dedicated to children under eight years old, highlighting the importance of the early years of a child’s life.  

Holy Cross School Wooloowin students make an artwork with their handprints ©Brisbane Catholic Education, Holy Cross School, Wooloowin (2024).

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