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CASPA GOVERNANCE PAPERS - Feedback From Other Stakeholders

Posted by CaSPA on 27 April 2019
CASPA GOVERNANCE PAPERS - Feedback From Other Stakeholders

As you are aware, the CaSPA Board ratified its submission to the 2020 Plenary Council on the theme ofGovernance in Catholic Education. Since then, the submission has been distributed broadly among Governance groups in Catholic Education.  At least 25 different groups have been in contact some at the initiative of CaSPA, and some seeking further discussion with CaSPA as they had learnt of the existence of these papers.

Over the past 11 months, CaSPA has been fortunate to have the assistance of Dr Peter Casey [pcaseycerp@gmail.com]. Peter has undertaken doctoral studies in the topic of Governance of Catholic Education at the University of Melbourne. He was commissioned by CaSPA to prepare an excellent background paper for its submission to Plenary 2020.  In recent weeks, Peter has generously volunteered to continue consultation with key stakeholders. His work is highly recommended to any group who is interested in developing their understanding of Governance in Catholic Education.

Following are some of the Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs] that arose out of discussion with these stakeholders:

What was the most common response in these discussions?

Many were surprised at the strength of feeling among Principals who had concerns about Governance arrangements in their jurisdictions. The fact that 1 in 4 CaSPA Principals finished in their roles in 2018 in less than ideal circumstances came as a surprise to many.

What significant responses have impacted on the potential development of the CaSPA submission?

CaSPA members have great regard for the primacy of the principle of subsidiarity, in line with the Church's social teachings. Other stakeholders have pointed out that the complementary principle of solidarity calls on our members to accept responsibility of acting for the common good while cognisant of one's own subsidiary rights.

(An amended table of elements of Good Governance is included below)

A number of high order governors such as trustees saw the primary roles of governors as ensuring fidelity to mission as an agent of the Church while boards were to ensure the practical civil and canonical compliance of the operation.


What was the most surprising response in these discussions?

The response by one Governance group was that the principals collectively were incapable of exercising their duty in regard to compliance and so had this responsibility taken away from them and given to the local CEO who had to employ significant staff numbers to undertake a role that is exercised quite successfully by schools in most other parts of the

We met with a senior CEO group charged with the governance of the schools of an Archdiocese. They told us that they had not yet been invited by the Archbishop to investigate governance despite the recommendations of the Royal Commission hence they had not looked at the issue. They invited us to meet with them because of the concerns of secondary principals who referred them to CaSPA and its submission.

What was the response to the recommendations?

While many agreed with the need for an independent body to oversee and support good governance within the Church, there was quite a deal of comment about how this would work in practice e.g.

How would it be funded?

Is this not already the role of the NCEC so why create a new entity?

How could it be successful if it did not have any powers of enforcement?

....the Bishops would never agree to it

The Church is not capable of creating processes that can impartially review its own activities

Have there been any suggestions for enhancing the recommendations?

There have been some significant discussion around leveraging off existing civil authorities. Most states and territories have the equivalent of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority. These bodies already oversee aspects of the governance of non-government schools and have a number of other facets which appeal:

they have legal standing

as an existing entity, they do not require funding to come into being

their findings are enforceable by law

they are external to the Church and Clerical authority

While it may be a little ideal, it is not outside the bounds of possibility that with the following amendments, these existing Authorities could fulfil the role envisioned in the original CaSPA recommendations:

We already have at the National level, the COAG Education Council that oversees most aspects of Education in Australia, a collaboration between federal and state/territory jurisdictions;

The group of existing RQA bodies could ideally operate in a similar way to promote and monitor good Governance practice in schools

What has been the response from others in the non-government sector?

There have been preliminary discussions with the Chair and Executive Officer of AHISA. While they believe there would be caution from their colleagues at the prospect of greater regulation in the area of Governance, they do recognise that there have been less than optimal practices occur with governance in some instances.

They are however interested in further discussion regarding the establishment of Governance Standardsto complement the existing Principal and Teacher Standards that have been developed by AITSL in recent times.



Key dimensions of governance




Canon Law

The governing body is recognized by the Catholic Church as responsible for ensuring fidelity to the teaching, pastoral and evangelical life of the Church as required by Canon Law

Civil Law

The governing body is recognized by state and federal governments as a legal entity and is charged with responsibility for ensuring accountability for compliance with all relevant legislation


The governing body defines the key roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of those in the entity


The governing body models and promotes best practice in decision making, communication and professional relationships, honouring subsidiarity and responsible autonomy


The governing body makes decisions cognizant of the impact on its own schools but also in support of the common good of other schools in its neighbourhood, system, state and the nation

Human Resources

The governing body appoints, supports and evaluates the performance of those in key leadership roles


The governing body ensures the appropriate use and development of, and accountability for finances and physical resources

Strategic Planning

The governing body plans strategically for the growth and development of the entity


The governing body effectively enacts its espoused organizational and operational principles, thus engaging the implementers of the enterprise relationally to pursue the vision and mission of the entity


Components of Governance


Component of Governance





High Performing


Low Performing


·  Bishop of the Diocese

·  Leader of the Religious Institute

·  Holds the title deeds

·  Accepts ultimate responsibility for the wellbeing of the entity as an integral part of the mission of the Church

·  Accepts responsibility for ensuring all the dimensions of good governance are observed and promoted in the entity (Refer Table 3)

·  Understands and practises subsidiarity in both theory and practice




Servant leadership

·  Reverts to a more hierarchical model of church organisation with great power vested at this level


Might is right

·  Reluctant to embrace and/or exercise overall leadership of the entity




Laissez faire

Delegated Authority

·  Director, Catholic Education Office

·  President, PJP

·  Parish Priest as Canonical Administrator

·  Delegated Canonical Administrator

·  Acts on behalf of the Licensee to oversee operations

·  Leads strategic direction of the organisations

·  Key interface with other agencies e.g. governments

·  Models high level leadership practice

·  Consults with those at lower levels

·  Provides critical feedback at higher levels

·  Develops professional and robust relations with all levels

Relational leadership

·  Tends to micromanage other levels of the entity

·  Is unwilling or unable to be consultative with lower levels of the organisation





Command and control

·  Lacks confidence or capacity to work as leader

·  Is overwhelmed by strong personalities in the organisation's structure

·  Lacks training and/or experience to lead with credibility



Promoted beyond competence


·  Usually located in the staff of a CEO or PJP

·  May be found amongst members of a high performing Board and its committees


·  Provides expertise, knowledge and support to which a typical school would not have access


·  Possesses the appropriate skills, expertise and knowledge

·  Provides these skills in a timely and effective manner

·  Is conscious of the time and demands on schools when providing support or seeking information

Support and service

·  Focuses on process rather than service

·  Sets unreasonable timelines for communication

·  Unreasonably prioritises compliance at the expense of pedagogy


Bureaucracy is an end in itself

·  Lacks the skills or experience to provide the levels of service required by the organisation

·  Exhibits poor organisational and/or communication skills that undermine the support function



Mediocrity rather than service

Site Leader

·  Principal


·  In theory is responsible for all matters that occur within and impact on the school

·  In fact, this varies according to the jurisdiction in which the principal operates; some principals have delegated employer status; some have budget control; some systems have central control of many aspects of the school's operation

·  Is aware of the needs of the local community and works successfully to meeting these

·  Operates in a spirit of cooperation and collegiality with other levels of governance and with peers

Support and leadership of local community

·  Can be preoccupied with local issues at the expense of others

·  Leads autocratically

·  Lacks cooperation with other levels of governance and peers



Looking after 'Number One'

·  Lacks confidence or capacity to work as leader

·  Is overwhelmed by strong personalities in the organisation's structure

·  Lacks training and/or experience to lead with credibility


Leader in name only


Author: CaSPA
Tags: Governance Catholic Secondary Principals Australia



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