December 2023 Newsletter
As we come to the end of the year we all look forward to a Christmas break and “a recharging of the batteries”!!
After 8 years as the CaSPAQ representative on the CaSPA Board as a Director, my tenure on the Board expires at the end of 2023. Over the last 3 years I have been President of CaSPA and now it is handover time.
From our recent AGM, I am very pleased to announce that the new President elected for 2024 onwards is Dr Stephen Kennaugh from St Andrew’s College, Parramatta, Sydney.
I wish to thank CaSPAQ and CaSPA for this privilege, the ongoing support for my Presidency term, and the Collegiality of other Directors. It has been a great time of trying to achieve our strategic goals and mission of CaSPA - hopefully we are many steps forward in the recognition of our very important voice, and priority of Principal wellbeing. The legacy and meaning of Miriam- Rose’s painting, I hope will stay forever. Again, I would thank Phil Lewis, EO, for his excellent work, leadership and support in this process. Phil has given us notice of his intention, after over 5 significant years in the role, to step down from the position mid-year 2024, after the National Conference in Perth in July. The position of Executive Officer is currently being advertised.
I would also thank Craig Deayton for his lengthy service and significant contribution to the Board as a Director. After 5 plus years of service Craig will be moving to a new Tasmanian Catholic Education Office Leader position. We congratulate Craig on his many years of exemplary leadership as a Secondary Principal. We will welcome 2 new Directors to the Board next year.
The importance of communication across our Catholic sector, and in fact, across all sectors, has been highlighted by the power of combined voice. CaSPA has worked hard to ensure we have a place at the table in many contexts. Education is liberation for our students, and our role as Principals provides that significant leadership, having extensive impact. The benefits of that impact can be further increased, when we work together to raise awareness of the possibilities of outcomes.
Over the last month, we have been fortunate to meet in Perth, and connect with the Western Australian Principals, and the Conference Planning Committee. The Conference will be a fabulous opportunity to come together, explore new horizons, showcase our sponsor partners, and have a taste of the beautiful landscape of WA.
Additionally, last Tuesday in Sydney saw our small representative Catholic Education Stakeholders Forum group gather in person, meeting at the NCEC office. It provided an opportunity to discuss a range of issues with Parents CSPA, ACPPA, and ourselves meeting with NCEC Jacinta Collins (ED) and Robert Tonkli. Discussion around funding models, parent engagement, Principal wellbeing, teacher shortages followed on with further ways of working together being explored.
Late last week, I hosted a meeting of leading Catholic Principals in the Technical and VET sector from Southern States at St James College in Brisbane. They lead the Australian Catholic Technical and Vocational Colleges Association. This is a voice which links with our excellence and equity in this field inclusive of a non-binary approach. The group enjoyed eye-opening industry visits to the lead operational centre of Rio Tinto in Brisbane, followed by a tour of the Broncos Clive Berghofer Centre and Training Institute. The meeting was particularly special and exciting, as it had just been announced that St James College and CathWest Innovation College (Principal Paul Stenning attending in Brisbane) placed first and second in School Pathways to VET category at the Australian Training Awards – another win for Catholic Education!
In closing, thank you for your support and friendship, and for all the work you do and share. Best wishes to all those Principals who are pursuing new phases of their life next year, as they complete their Principalships. I hope that you all may experience the light of laughter, the warmth of love, and the joy of gratitude of Christmas, along with a very wonderful New Year.
Blessings to All
CaSPA 2024 National Conference – Planning well underway
The CaSPA Board met last week in Perth and had the opportunity to experience first-hand the world class luxury facilities on offer at Crown Perth, the venue for our 2024 National Conference to be held from 14 – 16 July 2024.
As we head into the final weeks before the end of the school year here are some updates on the planning for next year’s event.
Be sure to express your interest to attend the Conference via the conference website here
Conference theme and logo
Dreaming the future of Catholic Education will provide an opportunity to reconnect, imagine and dream the future of Catholic Education as we gather on the lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Boodja (country).
We recognise and acknowledge that as leaders of our schools we are already on the journey to shaping the future of Catholic education. Grounded in our faith, the Conference will take us on a deeper journey of innovation, imagination, and collaboration.
Together, we will delve into visionary ideas and innovative strategies that will shape the future of Catholic education, ensuring it remains a beacon of hope and wisdom for generations to come.
Our Conference logo has been designed using CaSPA’s commissioned artwork piece from Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmer Baumann titled Unity. Further information on this piece and the essence of the painting can be found here
The two-day program includes keynote speakers, student panels and abstract presentations and workshops. The themes will range from innovation and adaption, inclusivity and diversity, faith integration and community engagement. You will have a choice of school visits where you will be hosted by the principal and have a chance to see how we work in Western Australia.
Call for Abstracts Now Open
While you are taking some time out over the school holidays to rest, rejuvenate and reflect – consider how you could possibly make a contribution to the 2024 Conference program by submitting an abstract for consideration.
As we face the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, we must collectively dream, envision, and act to ensure that we continue to lead Catholic education to transform lives and serve society.
How do we evolve as leaders in the changing landscape of education? How do we continue to lead and innovate our teaching practices and education systems while retaining our faith and mission? How can we lead and be progressive in a fast-changing world where values drive strong communities? What will leadership look like, how will we lead?
We are seeking abstracts that delve into the heart of Catholic education's future. We invite you to submit your innovative ideas, research findings, and practical insights that address:
- Leading Innovation and Adaptation: Explore innovative teaching approaches, technological advancements, and new methods to nurture the growth and vitality of Catholic education.
- Leading Inclusivity and Diversity: Share your perspectives on creating inclusive educational environments that embrace diversity, foster unity, and maintain Catholic values.
- Leading Faith Integration: Reflect on ways to infuse faith, ethics, and spirituality into modern curriculum and teaching practices, ensuring the enduring relevance of Catholic identity.
- Leading Community Engagement: Present strategies for strengthening the ties between Catholic educational institutions, local communities, and the global world, emphasizing service, outreach, and social justice.
Meet our Conference MC
Karen Tighe is a well-known face and voice of ABC TV and radio sport since joining the ABC in 1989.
She has co-hosted ABC Radio’s cover of the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, Kuala Lumpur and Manchester Commonwealth Games and has hosted six Paralympic Games (Lillehammer, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Beijing and London) with ABC TV.
Karen was the Media Award Winner at the 2000 and 2001 Australian Sports Awards and in 2020 received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Australia Media Awards in Sydney.
Karen is married to former ABC sports commentator Glenn Mitchell and is mother of James who has recently finished school.
Karen’s polished communication skills, professionalism and engaging personality have made her one of Perth’s most requested masters of ceremonies and we are delighted to have her as our MC for the 2024 National Conference.
Start Planning your visit to WA
Start planning your time in Western Australia and we encourage you to explore beyond our CBD to some of our beautiful regions. From the Coral Coast and swimming with dolphins to the tall trees and world-renowned wineries of the South West, there is an itinerary to suit every interest and length of time you can afford.Further ideas are available on the website
- CaSPA AGM and Board Meeting was held on 8 & 9 November at the Crown Towers. As a part of the Meeting, it was a great opportunity to view the 2024 Conference Venue.
- The CaSPA Board met with the CSPA(WA) Executive and the 2024 Conference Committee on 9 & 10 November. It was also great to share a meal with the W.A. Principals too.
- CaSPA President, Ann Rebgetz and Board members met with ACPPA on 30 October in Canberra to discuss issues related to Catholic Education and Principals. Unfortunately, the in person meeting with Minister Clare has been deferred until early December and will be an online meeting.
- 2024 CaSPA Conference Call for Abstracts. We are seeking abstracts that delve into the heart of Catholic education's future. https://lnkd.in/g6FrbpgU
- CaSPA Board will be advertising the CaSPA Executive Officer. The position will commence in July 2024. Executive Officer Role - Catholic Secondary Principals Australia (CaSPA)
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board are available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
In the vast landscape of Australian education, Jacinta Collins stands atop with a view as panoramic as it is profound.
Since entering the Senate in 1995, Collins has held several leadership roles and has served on the frontbench in the portfolios of school education, early childhood, workplace relations, mental health and ageing.
Yet, her marked dedication to education found its most profound alignment in February 2019, when Collins took the helm as the executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission - a monumental task, given the responsibility of representing 1,759 Catholic schools and the educational aspirations of nearly 794,000 students nationwide.
And this commitment did not go unnoticed. In May, Collins was awarded an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, from the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA) in recognition of her contribution to public life serving the community and for her work advocating for Catholic education and, more broadly, Catholic social teaching.
Reflecting on the achievements of the Catholic education in 2023, Collins noted the strong upward trend in enrolments across the sector’s 1,759 Catholic schools, which now educate nearly 794,000 students and employ nearly 104,000 staff.
“We are focused on school improvement and strengthening learning outcomes and have been closely involved in the consultation processes with governments from across Australia on national reform,” Collins told The Educator.
“Our pathways are broadened and strengthened by our willingness and ability to collaborate and co-create with our state and territory peak bodies, diocesan systems and Religious Institute and Ministerial Public Juridic Person authorities to engage deeply on what the data is telling us and to identify examples of practice that are having a positive effect and sharing these across systems and school communities.”
Collins said a prominent focus of Australia’s Catholic schools in 2023 has been on equipping teachers with evidence-based professional learning tools to ensure they deliver the best outcomes for the students they teach.
“It is indisputable that teacher quality is the most important factor in determining student outcomes,” Collins said. “There has been a significant focus on responding to the teacher workforce challenges that we see across all sectors of education.”
“Across Catholic education we are also responding to how our Catholic schools can respond to student views on wellbeing, faith formation and learning, recognising the importance of our teachers to know each and every student, and to guide them in their learning and formation.”
Collins noted collaboration has also been a key theme within the sector this year.
“The NCEC is collaborating nationally across the sector to address mathematic outcomes and exploring early years literacy to generate models of evaluated best practice for consideration across our sector in the years ahead,” she said.
“For example, we are currently working to develop resources for Year 7 & 8 mathematics and that will help free up teachers time so they can focus on the students to give them the best learning experience and support that they can.”
Collins said this is part of the NCEC’s national strategic priority to support the continual improvement of education outcomes for all students.
“This is being done by undertaking research, data analysis and identifying evidence-based practice across our schools and systems to be shared and maximised.”
“We will be strengthening our collaboration in the year ahead; we must work together across sectors and across schools to respond to the challenges of declining student outcomes.”
Collins said this is a challenge shared across the whole education landscape, and particularly for students experiencing educational disadvantage and those from rural and remote areas.
“We are also looking at how Catholic schools can address wellbeing, faith formation and learning,” she said, noting that the sector recently came together at the Australian Catholic Education Symposium to hear from, Professor Anne Graham AO, an expert in this area.
In October, leaders in Catholic education also attended the National School Improvement Colloquium in Perth, which Collins said provided another valuable opportunity for Catholic education leaders and educators to come together to learn from each other and support practice.
“We aim to continue similar collaborations throughout 2024.”
(Source: The Educator Newsletter)
‘Hidden, normative and covert’: invisible NAPLAN practices dictate schools, research finds
By Sarah Duggan
NAPLAN has become so “insidiously embedded” into Australian schooling that many educators no longer question – or even realise – the profound impact the test is wielding on their daily practice, new research has found.
Drawing on interviews with 27 Queensland teachers and school leaders, plus observations from staff meetings and classrooms, researchers have investigated the invisible effects of standardised testing policy and argue NAPLAN’s uses, be they intended or otherwise, have become entirely normalised and routine in schools.
Researcher Dr Stephanie Wescott from Monash University told EducationHQ that although we know NAPLAN’s influence has extended into areas such as narrowing the curriculum, influencing staffing decisions, and compelling teachers to ‘teach to the test’, many educators no longer connected the dots.
“We really wanted to look at the way that these things have become so normative now that we don’t even connect them with NAPLAN; we don’t even identify NAPLAN as the origin for some of the ways that we do things.
“We’ve called them hidden, normative and covert, because unless you really trace back or interrogate ‘why did we do things this way?’ you probably wouldn’t realise…” Wescott said.
A culture of NAPLAN accountability was very much alive and well amongst teachers, the researcher reported.
“The relative growth of your students in their NAPLAN results can be attributed solely to your teaching, in that particular year that you have them, which actually ignores the input of teachers that have come before you and the collaborative nature of that work.”
NAPLAN had also come to shape curriculum delivery in many schools, curtailing the scope of students’ learning, Wescott added.
“There are some schools where students will only do the types of writing that will appear on the NAPLAN test.
“They are not therefore exposed to all the other possibilities for writing in English.
“It also can inform educators’ own understanding of the possibilities for their practice. We saw from the research participants … the way they see and understand education has been shaped by these data-driven rationalities, measurement rationalities.
“So, (NAPLAN) is really informing the way that we imagine possibilities for teaching and curriculum – and that is so narrow, and it’s so limiting. And we can do a lot better…”
Despite having held up a research lens to contemporary rationales in education for a few years now, the ex-teacher said she was surprised to find that many teachers reported they didn’t think about NAPLAN all that much, nor thought it was something they ought to pay attention to.
“And yet, with a little bit of probing, it was actually revealed that most of what they were doing in their school was underpinned by NAPLAN … but because it was just such a normal part of the system, they didn’t really see it as NAPLAN preparation or NAPLAN guiding what they were doing.”
A newly-released review into public education in WA found NAPLAN had not resulted in any sustained improvements in educational outcomes or helped to close educational inequality.
“The benefits for teachers from NAPLAN have not materialised and many have experienced increased workload and a loss of professional standing as a result,” the summary reads.
“Individual national testing has narrowed the curriculum for children while teachers spend more classroom time ‘teaching to the test’.”
The independent panel urged all education ministers to consider replacing NAPLAN with a sample assessment like PISA, which is conducted less frequently and doesn’t publicly identify schools in the results.
Wescott said NAPLAN had indeed morphed into a marketing tool for schools.
“We can’t blame schools for wanting to optimise their NAPLAN results, because that’s the system that they work in.
“It’s a system of comparison and measurement and using data to demonstrate the effectiveness of your teaching.”
But the researcher questioned whether our complacency with the testing regime was right.
“We do have to take a broad view, I think, and question whether we’re OK with these things.
“... with the standardised test dictating or informing students’ education, what they are able to explore, what kind of things they do in English … we have to ask ourselves if we’re really OK with that.”
Wescott wants to see NAPLAN abolished, or at least “pared back to its original intention”, where it works only as a tool for identifying those students not meeting minimum standards in literacy and numeracy, plus as a means of targetting funding.
“I would like to not see NAPLAN used as a public tool to measure school performance and effectiveness.
“There’s so much more that happens in schools than just testing and measuring, and it is a real indictment on what we [envisage for] education,” she argued.