Leaders in a Catholic school co-create a vision for a community in which all may have life in abundance (Jn 10:10) and where student flourishing is the core purpose.

They are guided by religious, professional and ethical principles 
and pursue this vision in service of the community.

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Prophetic and courageous

The Sandhurst School Education Board Strategic Plan envisages leaders who give prophetic and courageous service across all Catholic school communities.

These leaders are inclusive, countercultural, authentic and hope-filled. They value educational provision of the highest quality with Christ at its centre. They offer such leadership in response to the call of baptism to serve others and thereby enable the flourishing of all in the school community.

Such leadership is shaped by the Guiding Principles of Governance of Sandhurst Schools:

1. Mission a commitment to working as Church to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all, to renew and transform the world. 

2. Stewardship a ministry of service expressed through ‘care of the tradition, the spirit, the story, the corporate and personal memories of the institution’ and just and proper use of material and human resources ‘through prudent management, wise investment and usage.’ 

3. Dialogue a conversation founded on shared experience and discernment, leading to understanding, sound judgment and decision-making.

4. Subsidiarity the rights of individuals and community to develop their potential, exercise natural levels of authority and determine respective competencies. Each level of governance has the right to exercise authority without one level assuming authority in another’s decision-making processes. It is not equated with autonomy, but supports the interdependence of all, requiring that decisions should be made at the most appropriate level. 

5. Co-Responsibilitythe common responsibility for the common mission of the Church shared by all its members through Baptism. It is not to be confused with the question of ‘authority’ - the authority for governance remains with the ordained (Canon 1329:1).

 

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Shared leadership

Leadership is exercised in all areas of Catholic school life and shared among committed leaders across the community:

  • within the Parish, where the parish priest is the legal and canonical administrator of the parish school and the pastor for all in the school community
  • within the membership of the Board/Council  , where principal, staff, parents and other members of the community share in strategic leadership, monitoring school improvement, school review and annual planning
  • within the staff, where the principal, school leaders and teachers share in the professional and educational leadership of the community in the place where work meets vocation
  • within the extended parent community, where parents and friends of the school provide leadership which connects families more effectively with school life and each other, and through which vital fundraising is carried out;
  • within the student body, where student leaders in both formal and informal roles, influence their peers and lead aspects of the school’s endeavour.

Catholic school leaders are faith leaders, witnessing to a personal spirituality, bringing others to a relationship with Jesus Christ and building a faith community in which all have opportunities ‘to encounter the Catholic Faith, to experience its gift and to enhance life decisions in response to it’ .

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Living co-creators of divine beauty

A Catholic worldview is distinctive in its positive anthropology and sees human beings as essentially good, created in God’s image and open to God’s grace.

Leaders with such a view recognize the value of each person as a contributor to the school’s flourishing; they invite all to participate in the life of the school as ‘living co-creators of divine beauty, blessed with extraordinary power and grace.’ 

Prophetic leaders are intentionally transformational. They are aware of the distinctive needs of each generation, elicit high levels of commitment and professionalism from teachers and staff; work interactively with other leaders towards a common vision. 

They pursue the wisdom to be gained from research and educational best practice and recognize the value of accountability.

They are committed to ongoing formation and professional learning in order to develop and enhance their leadership capacity in service of the school community.

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Parent community engagement

The importance of parent and community engagement in schools and learning is based on the foundational belief that families experience nourishment when they engage and encounter a community inspired by the love of God and when they experience Gospel values.

Parents are the first educators of their children in all things including faith. Between the ages of 0 and 18 children only spend 18.5% of their time directly experiencing the school or other formal institution. The remaining 81.5% of time is spent under the direct influence of parents and the wider community. 

The connection between parent and community engagement and school improvement is unequivocal because:

  • high performing schools have high levels of parent and community involvement. This holds equally true for “high poverty” schools as it does for middle class schools.
  • family participation in education has been found to be twice as predictive of student academic success as family socio-economic status. This holds true for all settings, all ages and all stages.  
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Types of engagement

Epstein  suggests there are six types of parent/community engagement:

  • Parenting – The school attempts to support families to further understand young adolescent development and to acquire developmentally appropriate parent skills. This includes the setting of home conditions to suit learning and sharing information with the school about their children.
  • Communicating – The school is required to set up processes which keep parents informed through such media as memos, reports, conferences about student work and school functions. This requirement involves the school embracing information technology.
  • Volunteering – This type of engagement incorporates recruiting, training and scheduling.
  • Learning at Home – The school is required to integrate the child’s learning at school with additional learning opportunities at home. This could involve such activities as goal setting and interactive homework.
  • Decision Making – The effective operation of the school requires giving the parents and wider community a voice in decision making.
  • Collaborating With The Community – The effective operation of the school is dependent upon bringing together the different community entities who have a vested interest in the education of young people.

Shared wisdom and discernment underpin decision-making in Catholic education, with effective leaders recognising the intrinsic worth of each individual’s contribution and acknowledging that every person brings to the decision making process their own unique wisdom.

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