Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The rationale for this unit is the understanding that, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin). Accordingly, “The Catholic school sets out to be a school for the human person and of the human person” (Congregation of Catholic Education, 1998). Educational leaders acknowledge this challenge as an expression of Jesus’ mission (John,10.10). As Christian disciples, they embrace it through the education vocation and their leadership ministry. Consequently, this unit interrogates the relationship between spirituality, leadership, mission and the Gospel and its expressions in Catholic education.    

Leading Spirituality interrogates the foundational elements of community engagement, mission and leadership through the development of an integrated spirituality. It is the promotion of leadership that seeks to holistically understand and apply. Leadership is centred in the Gospel mission, expressed within Church and is professional in character and practice.  

Leading Spirituality is a leadership unit that supports the relationship between the various elements of mission within the Catholic school; its mission, curriculum, religious dimension, structures, and systems. It aims to nurture spirituality of the leader as an application of one’s Spirit to the circumstances and relationships of life and living. It aims to promote understanding, affect and behaviours that reflect the fullness of Christian life within self, relationships, professional practice and communal participation. 

The aim of this unit is to provide students with a forum to: explore professional practice honouring Catholic Christian foundations; explore this meaning system through spirituality, mission and leadership; and, promote ministry that integrates professional practice through formation of generic Christian leadership capacities. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 -  Critically interrogate the spiritual fabric of the human person (GA1; APTS 2.1 (HA); APSP 2)

LO2 - Understand comprehensively the relationship between spirituality and religion, especially in pluralist cultures (GA5; APTS 2.1 (HA); APSP 5)

LO3 -  Critique how Australian history, First People’s presences and contemporary culture influence the nurturance and expressions of spirituality and its leadership (GA1; APTS 2.4 (HA); APSP 3) 

LO4 -  Understand comprehensively and critically reflect on how the mission of Jesus informs the purpose of the Catholic educational settings and their leadership (GA4; APTS 1.3 (Lead), 6.2 (HA), APST 6.4 (HA); APSP 1)

LO5 -  Reflectively examine how educational leaders may engage with a Gospel spirituality to nurture personal growth and engagement in evangelization (GA8; APTS 1.1 (Lead), 3.6 (HA); APSP 1, 2). 

LO6 -  Critically explore how spirituality supports personal vocation and the ministry of leadership. (GA2; APST 1.3 (Lead), 4.2 (Lead); APSP 2, 4).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.1    Physical, Social and intellectual development and characteristics of students (Lead)

Lead colleagues to select and develop teaching strategies to improve student learning using knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.

1.3 Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds (Lead)

Evaluate and revise school learning and teaching programs, using expert and community knowledge and experience, to meet the needs of students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

2.1     Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area (Highly Accomplished)

Support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs. 

2.4     Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between First Peoples’ and non-First People Australians (Highly Accomplished)

Support colleagues with providing opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages. 

3.6      Evaluate and improve teaching programs (Highly Accomplished)

Work with colleagues to review current teaching and learning programs using student feedback, student assessment data, knowledge of curriculum and workplace practices. 

4.2       Manage classroom activities (Lead)

Initiate strategies and lead colleagues to implement effective classroom management and promote student responsibility for learning. 

6.2       Engage in professional learning and improve practice (Highly Accomplished)

Plan for professional learning by accessing and critiquing relevant research, engage in high-quality targeted opportunities to improve practice and offer quality placements for pre-service teachers where applicable. 

6.4       Apply professional learning and improve student learning (Highly Accomplished)

Engage with colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher professional learning activities to address student learning needs. 


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the following Professional Practices: 

APSP 1-Leading teaching and learning

Principals create a positive culture of challenge and support, enabling effective teaching that promotes enthusiastic, independent learners, committed to lifelong learning. Principals have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development. They set high expectations for the whole school through careful collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of learning. Principals set high standards of behaviour and attendance, encouraging active engagement and a strong student voice

APSP 2- Developing self and others

Principals work with and through others to build a professional learning community that is focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Through managing performance, effective continuing professional learning and feedback, they support all staff to achieve high standards and develop their leadership capacity. Principals support others to build capacity and treat people fairly and with respect. They model effective leadership and are committed to their own ongoing professional development and personal health and wellbeing in order to manage the complexity of the role and the range of learning capabilities and actions required of the role.

APSP 3-Leading improvement, innovation and change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.

APSP 4-Leading the management of the school

Principals use a range of data management methods and technologies to ensure that the school’s resources and staff are efficiently organised and managed to provide an effective and safe learning environment as well as value for money. This includes appropriate delegation of tasks to members of the staff and the monitoring of accountabilities. Principals ensure these accountabilities are met. They seek to build a successful school through effective collaboration with school boards, governing bodies, parents and others. They use a range of technologies effectively and efficiently to manage the school.

APSP 5-Engaging and working with the community

Principals embrace inclusion and help build a culture of high expectations that takes account of the richness and diversity of the wider school community and the education systems and sectors. They develop and maintain positive partnerships with students, families and carers and all those associated with the wider school community. They create an ethos of respect taking account of the spiritual, moral, social and physical health and wellbeing of students. They promote sound lifelong learning from preschool through to adult life. They recognise the multicultural nature of Australia’s people. They foster understanding and reconciliation with Indigenous cultures. They recognise and use the rich and diverse linguistic and cultural resources in the school community. They recognise and support the needs of students, families and carers from communities facing complex challenges.


Topics will include:

  • Exploring the nature of Spirituality
  • The relationship of spirituality with and within religion
  • Spirituality in an Australian context, respecting First Peoples’ contributions
  • The Mission of Jesus: Foundation of spirituality and leadership 
  • The Gospel: Spirituality for educators
  • Concept of Kingdom
  • Spirituality and Educational Leadership
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Eco-spirituality

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit may be offered in online, on campus or in blended learning modes. The use of LEO will be integral to the unit in exploring concepts and testing understandings and propositions. Strategies used may include lectures, engagement with the literature, self-directed learning, critical reflection against relevant professional standards, case studies, dialogue and interrogation of concepts, theories and practices, and the application of learning to current professional contexts.

 This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes above. Some flexibility may be exercised in the assessment tasks to align with the needs of the student cohort. For example, students may be working in a classroom, in an administrative role or currently on leave from teaching.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Reflectively engage with a spirituality book of substance (chosen from provided list) and explain how it informs your understanding of spirituality and the influence of spirituality on your educational leadership.


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Critically review the scholarship concerning one aspect of spiritual leadership taught in this unit (as listed below) in order to demonstrate your understanding of it. Then you are to critically explain how this understanding influences your personal and/or professional leadership.

  • The tension between leadership and spirituality
  • Australian spirituality including First Peoples’ Spirituality
  • Concept of Kingdom
  • Spiritual intelligence.
  • Spirituality in the Catholic/faith-based school
  • Leadership of/with an Ecological spirituality


LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Bevans. S. (2009). The Mission has a Church: An invitation to the dance, Australian eJournal of Theology, 14(1).

Borg, M (2009). Jesus: the life, teachings, and relevance of a religious revolutionary.  New York, NY: Harper.

Catholics for Renewal (2019). Getting back on mission: Reforming our church together. Mulgrave, Vic: Garrett Publishing.

Delio, I. (2015). Making all things new: Catholicity, cosmology, consciousness. New York, NY: Orbis Books.

Deepanjalik M. (Ed). Science and spirituality for a sustainable World. Hershey, USA: IGI Global.

Fletcher, F. & Byers, F (2013). Jesus and the dreaming: Discovering an Australian spirituality through Aboriginal-Christian dialogue. Sydney: St Paul Publications.

Francis. (2015). Laudato Si’: On care for our common home (Encyclical). Vatican City: Vatican Press.

Geraghty, C. (2018). Jesus: The forgotten feminist. Mulgrave, Vic: Garrett Publishing.

Grieves, V. (2009). Aboriginal spirituality: Aboriginal philosophy. The basis of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing. Discussion Paper Series. No. 9. Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health: Darwin.

Hall, T. H. (2021). Relational spirituality: A psychological-theological paradigm for transformation. Intervarsity Press.

Lavery, S. (2012). The Catholic school principal: A transcendent leader? Journal of Catholic school Studies. 34(1), 36-43.

Lowney, C. (2013). Pope Francis: Why he leads the way he leads. Chicago: Loyola.

Nolan, A. (2009). Jesus today: A spirituality of radical freedom. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Riaz, O, (2012). Spirituality and transformational leadership in education. Unpublished EdD dissertation. Florida International University IU Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

Rolheiser, R. (2014). The holy longing: The search for a Christian spirituality. New York, NY: Image.

Scanlan, M. (2011). How principals cultivate a culture of critical spirituality. International Journal of Leadership in Education: Theory and Practice. (14),3, 293-315.

Senkbeil, H. (2019). The care of souls: Cultivating a pastor’s heart. Lexham Press.

Tacey, D. (2020). The postsecular sacred: Jung, soul and meaning in an age of change. New York, NY: Routledge. 

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