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What were the issues confronting CaSPA Principals in 2001?

Posted on 7 October 2018
What were the issues confronting CaSPA Principals in 2001?

the more things change, the more they stay the same....

  • CaSPA held its intial National Conference in Melbourne in 2001.
  • Key concerns of Principals were brought to light
  • ....unfortunately the majority of these remain key concerns of our Principals
  • Will a fresh look at Governance assist us all to lead our communities more effectively?

As part of the Governance Project being sponsored by CaSPA, Dr Peter Casey has been invited to review aspects of the history of our National Body.  As a member of the organising committee of the Inaugural CaSPA Conference [know as APCSSA at that time] in Melbourne in 2001, Peter took notes from a keynote session where Catholic Secondary Principals from around Australia reflected on their key challenges:

An analysis of the feedback from discussion groups of principals in 2001 at the Inaugural APCSSA [Associaiton of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools Australia] Conference presented issues in four major areas.  These concerned:

(a) the Catholic nature of the school,

(b) concerns for the principal's personal wellbeing in carrying out the position of principal,

(c) the skill set uniquely required to a lead a Catholic school, and

(d) the heartburn questions that lead to principal stress and burnout.

a. Catholic nature of schools
Major issue: Understanding and promoting the Catholic nature of the school
  • Meeting the needs of all students
  • Promoting Catholic vision
  • Translating the vision into relevant signs, symbols and ritual actions
  • Adopting an overt stance for Jesus
  • Influencing peoples' image of Church
  • Responsibility of being Church for many but not influencing the Church itself
  • Being authentic means being counter-cultural
  • Connections between the vibrant experience of school-Church and  parishes which only open for business on Sundays and sell to the wrong market
  • Being lighthouses of hope
  • Naming our values unashamedly and often
  • Naming the sacred in everyday experiences
  • Maintaining the differences from each school's founding charism
b. Personal wellbeing
Maintaining balance in one's life was the single most common issue
  • Drawing on the strengths of colleagues through gatherings with other principals
  • Staying positive
  • Maintaining a sense of humour
  • Reflection and personal prayer
  • Time management to maintain balance and perspective
  • Stresses from the growing complexity of the role of principal
  • Vision-density throughout the life of the school
  • Professional isolation within the school
  • Family compromised by principal's commitment to school
  • Promoting networks amongst principals
  • Promoting mentoring and critical friends for principals
c. Skills needed
Some of the skills required to lead a Catholic school are common to Principals' roles in other schools.  Some are unique.
  • Preparedness and support for pastoral role of principal
  • Discerning parent motives for choosing a Catholic school
  • Tolerating difference
  • Understanding difference
  • Industrial negotiating
  • Addressing social issues within school community
  • Attracting and developing good staff
  • Celebrating
  • Time management to maintain balance and perspective
  • Negotiating with parents who believe they are paying for a service
  • Community building
  • Grooming new leaders through middle management
  • Affirming good practice in staff
  • Understanding and providing for the speed of technological change
  • Inclusive leadership and empowering delegation
  • Acceptance of human frailty
  • Modelling calm versus a sense of frenzy
  • Taking time to reflect and to re-establish balance
d. Heartburn material
Challenges which the APCSSA may investigate with principals to find common ground and better ways.
  • Difference between student-family values and school's espoused values
  • New clericalism in post-Vatican lay-dominated schooling systems
  • Responsibility of being Church for many but not influencing the Church itself
  • Connections between vibrant experience of school-Church and  parishes which only open for business on Sundays and sell to the wrong market
  • Resourcing technology and justifying the resourcing of technology
  • Recruiting for rural and non-metropolitan schools
  • Decreasing theological literacy of staff
  • Rate of change
  • Lack of recognition for principals given the work they effect.
  • Materialism in Catholic schools and society
  • Professionalism versus a vocational approach to teaching
  • Cynicism
  • Reflection and identification of one's personal views of Church, faith and motivation in leading a Catholic school

This material was presented as Appendix viii in 'The Systematic Delivery of Catholic Schooling in Australia', Dr Peter M. Casey's PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 2001.
Tags: Catholic Secondary Principals Australia caspa conference

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