Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Leadership from a faith perspective is a requirement for all leaders within Catholic Education ministries, and particularly so for leaders in the Catholic school engaged in a distinctive mission informed by the Gospel, Church Tradition and the philosophy of Catholic Education.

This unit explores how leadership through faith is understood, integrated and expressed in educational and wider pastoral contexts. The concepts of relevance and authenticity through leadership in a multi-faith, multicultural and aspirational Australia are examined with specific reference to the vision and mission of the Catholic school. Learning modules focus on the contemporary social context, faith principles within leadership, exemplary models and practical applications of leadership.

The aim of this unit is to situate leadership as aligned with and supportive of a distinctive Catholic Education mission.

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 - Appraise contemporary Australian culture in order to identify influences and challenges to faith development (GA4; APST (HA) 1.5; APSP 2, 3, 4, 5)

LO2 - Articulate an understanding of how personal meaning and identity are constructed. These are catalytic influences on faith development (GA4; APST (HA) 1.1; APSP 3, 5)

LO3 - Explain and justify how faith may inform the search for meaning and interpret how personal  religious identity may develop in Catholic schools (GA1; APST (HA) 7.1; APSP 1, 2, 3)

LO4 - Critically reflect on contemporary challenges associated with leading faith in schools and initiate strategies to implement supportive learning for students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds (GA8; APST (Lead) 1.3, 6.4, (HA) 1.5; APSP 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

LO6 - Critique policies and practices oriented towards supporting a culture of faith in schools (GA5; APST (Lead) 2.2; APSP 1, 2, 3, 5)

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:

1.1 Physical, Social and intellectual development and characteristics of students - Highly Accomplished

Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit 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.

1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities - Highly Accomplished

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 organisation - Lead

Lead initiatives that utilise comprehensive content knowledge to improve the selection and sequencing of content into coherently organised learning and teaching programs.

6.4 Apply professional learning and improve student learning - Lead

Advocate, participate in and lead strategies to support high-quality professional learning opportunities for colleagues that focus on improved student learning.

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities - Highly Accomplished

Maintain high ethical standards and support colleagues to interpret codes of ethics and exercise sound judgement in all school and community contexts.


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

1. Professional Practice: 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.

2. Professional Practice: 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.

3 Professional Practice: 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.

4. Professional Practice: 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.

5. Professional Practice: 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:

  • The contemporary post religious culture and its influence on faith traditions and the adoption by Australians of non-faith based spirituality.
  • Contemporary theories and approaches about the cultivation and leading of faith in schools
  • Relevant policies and current practices pertaining to contemporary models of leadership in faith education.
  • Contemporary initiatives, including the New Evangelisation and how this is realised in Catholic schools.
  • Challenges associated with leading faith in schools such as: the religious plurality of student populations; “relevance” of traditional faith curriculum and practices; school leadership agendas; contextual influences associated with leading faith.

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.

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 in a creative and practical manner. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

With reference to experience and the scholarly literature, explore the challenge of faith leadership in contemporary Australian Catholic schools Or another appropriate assessment type to assess the relevant learning outcomes


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA4

Assessment Task 2

Drawing on scholarly literature, plan and prepare a professional learning program (for staff or students) that critically addresses contemporary challenges associated with leading faith in schools Or another appropriate assessment type to assess the relevant learning outcomes


LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Branson, C., Marra, M., & Buchanan, M. (2019). Re-constructing Catholic school leadership: Integrating mission, identity. International Studies in Catholic Education, 11(2), 219-232.

Congregation for Catholic Education. (2017). Educating to fraternal humanism: Building a civilization of love 50 years after Populorum Progressio [EFH]. Retrieved from

Connolly, N., & Lucas, B. (2019). A theological reflection on the 'missio and gentes' (online). Australasian Catholic Record, 96(4), 411-420. Availability:;dn=859190642037785;res=IELHSS ISSN: 0727-3215. [cited 13 May 20].

Hall, D., Sultmann, W.F., & Townend, G. (2018). Constants in context: 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

Pollefeyt, D., & Richards, M. (2020). Catholic dialogue schools: Enhancing Catholic school identity in contemporary contexts of religious pluralisation and social and individual secularisation. Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, 91(1), 77–113.

Sultmann, W.F., & Brown, R. (2019). Mission and teacher identity: a case for relationships. Journal of Religious Education, 67 (2), 153-163.

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

Walsh, P. (2018). From philosophy to theology of Catholic education, with Bernard Lonergan and Karl Rahner, International Studies in Catholic Education, 10:2, 132-155, DOI: 10.1080/19422539.2018.1492250

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