The nature of Catholic schooling has changed over time
in response to new understandings and changing contexts.
The most important part of our context
is the community in which we serve. 

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Our students

Students of all ages seek to find personal meaning and fulfillment in their lives. In order to positively support students in this journey, it is vital for leaders, teachers and staff to have an understanding of the world of the student and the key influences on students – their family values and circumstances, their cultural and religious experience, their peer group and interests, their exposure to technologies (including social media) as stated in Source of Life.  

McQueen  describes Generation Z, currently in our primary schools, as a group who, whilst also possessing many positive attributes, has the propensity to be:

  • addicted to technology
  • prematurely mature
  • risk averse.

 

It is critical that schools understand the developmental needs of their students and the context in which they live and socialise. In Sandhurst we actively seek to engage all students in the education process and in the life of our school communities.

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Our teachers

Emerging paradigms for contemporary learning and teaching in a Catholic school require teachers to engage in ongoing professional learning and personal renewal so they may effectively meet the needs of their students.

‘It is the teacher’s own vision that must first be transformed. If it is true that ‘the teacher does not write on inanimate material, but on the very spirit of human beings’ then the first writing must be written across the teacher’s own heart … In order to play the prophetic role which education for liberation desperately needs, educators first need to become mystics themselves, to recover their own potential for contemplation, wonder, stillness, relationship with the natural world, and a thirst for learning which transcends narrow curriculum limit. … Good teaching cannot ever be reduced to the latest curriculum or set of sacramental guidelines, or pedagogical technique. It comes from the self-knowledge, the authenticity and integrity of the teacher.’ 

Teaching in a Catholic school is not only a profession; it is a ministry within the Catholic Church.

‘The life of a teacher, as I know from personal experience, is very challenging and demanding, but it is also profoundly satisfying. It is more than a job, for it is rooted in our deepest convictions and values. To be intimately concerned in the development of a young person, of hundreds of young people, is a highly responsible task. As teachers, you kindle in your students a thirst for truth and wisdom. You spark off for them a desire for beauty. You introduce them to their cultural heritage. You help them to discover the treasures of other cultures and peoples. What an awesome responsibility and privilege is yours in the teaching profession.’  

The lives of teachers and staff, like those of their students and families/carers, play out in the particular context of time and place. They face the challenges of twenty-first century life in their own homes, churches and communities. They are inspired to make a difference in this complex environment.

In Sandhurst we actively seek to engage all teachers and staff in the education process and in the life of our school communities. Many opportunities are provided for teachers to strengthen and deepen their professional practice and personal spirituality.

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Our families and carers

The nature of family life is changing. Today it is difficult to describe a typical set of family experiences for a child or adolescent. While many may live in a traditional family, an increasing number are growing up in blended families, single parent families or families based on de-facto relationships.

There is an increasing diversity in the cultural and religious backgrounds of families, and widening gaps between wealthier and poorer families. While many students come from very supportive family environments, an increasing number are experiencing social and emotional issues because of family dysfunction, conflict and break-up. Significant numbers of children and young people are cared for by those outside their families. No two settings are identical.

In Sandhurst we welcome all those who wish to be a part of the Catholic school community and actively seek to engage parents, families and carers as partners in the education process and in the life of our school communities.

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Our changing contexts

As Sandhurst school communities we are indebted to the pioneers of Catholic education, both in our Diocese and beyond, and acknowledge the charism of the many religious congregations who established our schools.

We recognize the benefits of close working relationships with parishes, priests and bishops.

We are mindful of the significant and generous contributions made by previous generations of leaders, staff, students and families who have ensured the existence and quality of our schools.

Today, in addition to the characteristics of our students, our teachers, our families and carers, factors such as location, demographics and socio-economic characteristics of the community shape the unique nature of each school. These variables impact on the range of needs, possibilities and innovations which need to be considered.

All of this occurs in a complex set of jurisdictions which have their own impact on schools.

Directions in Australian Society

  • increased globalisation and international mobility
  • pervasive use of technologies, both as consumers and generators
  • greater engagement in our international region
  • increased need for cross-cultural understanding
  • two-speed Australian economy in response to internal and external market forces
  • complex and competing environmental agenda
  • increasing economic and social divide

Directions in the Australian Educational Context

  • guided by Melbourne Declaration of Education (December 2008)
  • development of the Australian curriculum
  • national testing and publication of school data
  • professional standards and development of teachers
  • increased focus on student skills development
  • strengthening of vocational pathways for students
  • renewed focus on early childhood education
  • maintenance of focus on literacy and numeracy

Changes in the Catholic Community

  • increasing number of students and families with little or no participation in the worshipping community
  • changing models of ministry with the decline in the number of priestly vocations
  • increased enrolments from families from a variety faith traditions
  • broader range of beliefs and practices among Catholics
  • focus on belonging in local communities

Changes in Catholic Schools

  • evangelisation as an increasing focus
  • increasing proportion of students identified with special or additional learning needs
  • changes in faith and lifestyle profiles of staff
  • difficulties in recruiting qualified staff
  • commitment to partnerships to support initiatives
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