By way of background, I have over 30 years of experience as a teacher in New South Wales, including eight years as a principal of a Catholic systemic school. In 2017, I returned to my home state of Victoria where I am in my first year of Catholic secondary school principalship.
Recently, I was having a professional conversation with a middle leader colleague. He was musing, frustrated, about what more he needed to do in order to be given an opportunity at senior leadership in Catholic schools. He quoted chapter and verse the various courses, up to Masters level, that he had completed. Indeed, he had two Masters degrees; one in global educational politics and another, an Executive MBA. "I don't know what else I could possibly do!" he exclaimed, exasperated.
I found his perspective fascinating. It was as if he had never occurred to him that senior leadership in Catholic schools is as much as anything else, a position of leadership in church. He had done no significant professional learning, nor personal/professional formation, around Catholicism for his own personal spirituality.
The Executive MBA is particularly pertinent here. The Executive MBA is the standard postgraduate degree undertaken by many middle and senior Catholic school leaders in Melbourne. The vast majority it seems have been sponsored to complete the course by Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM). In the main, the courses have been completed at ACU.
In Sydney, meanwhile, the very same university has trained a generation of aspiring and established school leaders in the Master of Educational Leadership. This postgraduate degree course is focused around the specifics of Catholic leadership, with a healthy dose of theological training and professional formation in the Catholic tradition.
How extraordinary that the same university in our two biggest towns have such a radically different approach to preparing and depthing school leaders in the task that lies before them. I have been left wondering if I am dealing with the same "system" with the same set of values.
St Bernards College, Essendon
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