Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The contemporary Catholic school is a complex, interdependent, multi-faith and multicultural community. The challenge for leaders within this profile is to engage with their immediate and wider community, operate in harmony with mission, and nurture informed, committed, professional and engaged personnel within a distinctive educational philosophy.

This unit is for all who are engaged directly or indirectly in the governance, leadership and educative practices in Catholic schools. The unit seeks to expand on professional practice as shaped by Catholic Christian foundations; explore this meaning system through spirituality, mission and leadership; and, promote ministry that integrates professional practices supported through the formation of generic capabilities.

In order to respond appropriately, this unit aims to assist educators to explain and justify their understanding of Catholic mission and identity and to authentically lead schools in fulfilling their mission within the context of Church and in light of the Gospel of Christ.

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 analyse historical and contemporary developments in ecclesiology and missiology, which respond to issues challenging Catholic school leaders (GA4, GA8; APST 2.2 (HA); APSP 3)

LO2 -  Interpret and critically reflect on how cultural meanings influence the development of meaning and identity and impact on the culture of contemporary Catholic schools and the particular responsibilities this requires of leaders (GA5; APST 1.3 (Lead); APSP 5)

LO3 -  Evaluate how young people perceive the Gospel and generate strategies to initiate dialogue which explain and interpret the notion of ‘relevance’ of spiritual values in their experiences and expectations (GA5; APST 1.5 (HA); APSP 1, 5).

LO4 - Explain and justify the nature and purpose of the Catholic school and how the New Evangelization gives expression to the mission of the school. (GA1; APST 1.3 (Lead), 5.3 (Lead); 6.3 (HA); APSP 1, 3).

LO5 - Interpret the notion of ‘educating’ young people in meaning, identity and spirituality (GA5; APST 3.1 (HA), 3.5 (HA) 6.4 (HA); APSP 1, 2)

Graduate attributes

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

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:

1.3 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. 

1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of Abilities

Evaluate learning and teaching programs, using student assessment data, that are differentiated for the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 

2.2 Content selection and organization

Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs. 

3.1 Establish challenging learning goals

Develop a culture of high expectations for all students by modelling and setting challenging learning goals. 

3.5 Use effective classroom communication

Assist colleagues to select a wide range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support students’ understanding, engagement and achievement. 

5.3 Make consistent and comparable judgments

Lead and evaluate moderation activities that ensure consistent and comparable judgements of student learning to meet curriculum and school or system requirements. 

6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Initiate and engage in professional discussions with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the educational outcomes of students. 

6.4 Apply professional learning and improve student learning

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:

  • Critical analysis of Australian societal changes and their influences on Catholic schools.
  • Knowledge and appreciation of Second Vatican Council and other Church documents and their vision for contemporary Catholic education.
  • Critique of influences and forces on the generation of school culture and the culture of the contemporary Catholic school so as to determine how leaders should respond authentically and effectively.
  • A critical appraisal of what contributes to identity of the Catholic school, referring to the influences of a secular, pluralist culture and the place of the New Evangelisation is responding to this.
  • Challenges associated with leading schools such as the religious plurality of student populations; secular Australian culture, Catholic Social Teachings, such as preferential option for the poor and marginalized, tension between Gospel values and education agenda of parents.

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 tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes. In addition, the tasks represent an opportunity to align with the particular needs of students and their professional contexts.

 To successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge related to perspectives on wellbeing in a creative and practical manner. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Read a selection of the Congregation for Catholic Education literature in the reading list below and provide an articulation of purpose of the Catholic school and identify the challenges faced in achieving this purpose.


LO1, LO2, LO4,

GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Based on the purpose for Catholic schools you articulated in Assessment Task1, and the inherent challenges in achieving this purpose, develop and detail strategies that leaders in Catholic education could use in ensuring that schools are authentically Catholic.


LO2, LO3, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

D'Orsa, J., & D'Orsa, T. (2020.) Pedagogy and the Catholic educator: Nurturing hearts, transforming possibilities. In The Broken Bay Institute Mission and Education Series. Mulgrave, Vic: John Garratt Publishing.

Gleeson, J. & Goldburg, P. (2020). (Eds). Faith-based identity and curriculum in Catholic schools. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hall, D., Sultmann, W. F, & Townend, G. (2019). Constants in context: An exploration of conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the Catholic school. Journal of Religious Education. doi:10.1007/s40839-019-00074-6

McVey, M. K., & Poyo, S. R. (2019). Preparing Catholic educators to educate and evangelise in 21st century schools, action research of an analysis of educator preparation program requirements including professional and pedagogical, relational, formational and evangelistic education for P-16 students. Journal of Catholic Education, 22(2). Retrieved from

National Catholic Education Commission. (2017). A framework for formation for mission in Catholic education. Retrieved from 4FormationMission.pdf  

National Catholic Education Commission. (2020). Australian Catholic schools why we have them? What they aim to do. Retrieved from 

Neidhart, H., & Lamb, J. (2016). Australian Catholic schools today: School identity and leadership formation. Journal of Catholic Education, 19(3), 49-65.

Spesia, D. (2016). Forming Catholic School Principals as Leaders of the New Evangelisation. Journal of Catholic Education, 20 (1). Retrieved from

Sultmann, W.F. (2018). Cornerstone: Encountering the spirit of Christ in the Catholic school. Melbourne, Vic, Coventry Press.

Sultmann, W. F., & Brown, R. (2019). Mission and teacher identity: A case for relationships. Journal of Religious Education, 67(2), 153-163. doi:10.1007/s40839-019-00084-4

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