Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Contemporary education offers stories of hope, healing, and communal life, yet they exist within wider narratives about the purposes of education that can prioritise individualism, consumerism, uncritical scientism, or materialism.

This unit establishes a critical dialogue between Catholic social teaching, non-materialist ontologies (including indigenous), and contemporary educational policy and pedagogical discourses (e.g., Mparntwe Declaration, UN Sustainable Development Goals, OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030, virtual and augmented realities, social and emotional learning, entrepreneurialism). It critiques use of research, data, and epistemic privilege in education policy, measurement, and evaluation.

This unit aims to develop skills in critique of contemporary educational discourse. Students develop confidence in crafting and telling their own educational narrative.

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 - describe contemporary perspectives on purposes of education (GA1, GA4, GA8; APST 1.3, 2.4 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

LO2 - critically analyse discourse on use of data and evidence for educational purposes (GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8; APST 6.2, 6.3, 6.4 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

LO3 - evaluate these discourses in light of Catholic social teaching (GA1, GA4, GA6; APST 2.4, 7.1 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

LO4 - create and present a personal statement of educational philosophy (GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 1.3, 2.4, 7.1, 7.3 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


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

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.

2.4  Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

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

5.4  Interpret student data

Coordinate student performance and program evaluation using internal and external student assessment data to improve teaching practice.

6.2  Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.4  Apply professional learning and improve student learning

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

Model exemplary ethical behaviour and exercise informed judgements in all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community.

7.3    Engage with the parents/carers

Identify, initiate and build on opportunities that engage parents/carers in both the progress of their children’s learning and in the educational priorities of the school.


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:

Purposes of Education

  • Social, philosophical, ecclesial, political visions of the “common good”
  • Policy framing
  • OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Mparntwe Declaration – National goals for education
  • National agreements and policy architecture

Ontological narratives of educational purpose

  • Homo economicus and eudaimonia
  • Relationality and individualism
  • Datafication and performativity
  • Transcendence and non-materiality (including indigenous ontologies)

Leadership as storytelling

  • Subjectivity and reflexivity
  • Auto-ethnography
  • Digital narrative

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in offered in multimode and uses a constructivist learning approach to support students in the development of knowledge, skills, and critical insights. Students begin with critical examination of core policy documents governing education in Australia. This broadens to consider the wider discourse on the purposes of education, including critique of political, social, cultural, and economic perspectives. Discussion and case study methods are employed to evaluate these, complemented by evaluation of scholarly theory and research findings. Students are the challenged to articulate and present a coherent statement of educational philosophy in the form of a digital artefact.

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 teaching period, comprising directed tasks and self-study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Learning in this unit requires students to develop personal responses to wider educational policy and discourse as a manifestation of Catholic social teaching. The first assessment requires students to identify core purposes of education as articulated in key policy documents. This is expanded in the second assessment to an evaluation of wider discourse about the purposes of education, followed by a critique of these through the framework of Catholic social teaching. Assignment 3 requires students to draw on the first two assessments to develop a coherent statement of educational philosophy. Students must also express ways in which this is enacted in practice.

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are mapped to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes and the related academic and professional standards. In order to pass this unit, students are required to successfully complete all assessment tasks regardless of their mode of enrolment. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Critical review of key policy statements on Australian, and global education


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Evaluation of contemporary discourses on data and evidence in light of Catholic social teaching 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8

Assessment Task 3

Digital story/artefact/podcast of personal philosophy and its practical implications


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Ballano, V. (2021). Why is Catholic Social Teaching difficult to implement in society?: A Theological-Sociological analysis. The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, 11(1), 93-106.

Biesta, G. (2017). The rediscovery of teaching. Routledge.

Boaz, A., & Nutley, S. (2019). Using evidence. In A. Boaz, H. Davies, A. Fraser & S. Nutley, (Eds.), What works now?: Evidence-informed policy and practice (pp. 251–277). Policy Press.

de Jager, A., Fogarty, A., Tewson, A., Lenette, C., & Boydell, K. M. (2017). Digital Storytelling in Research: A Systematic Review. The Qualitative Report22(10), 2548-2582.

Etzioni, A. (2018). Happiness is the wrong metric. Springer.

Fisk, S. (2021). Leading data-informed change in schools. Sutherland.

Lupton, R., & Hayes, D. (2021). Great mistakes in education policy and how to avoid them in the future. Policy Press.

Norris, J. (2022). School leaders’ sensemaking and sensegiving. Brill.

Schildkamp. K. (2019). Data-based decision-making for school improvement: Research insights and gaps. Educational Research, 6:3), 257-273.

Vincent-Lancrin, S., et al. (2019). Measuring innovation in education 2019: What has changed in the classroom?, Educational research and innovation. OECD Publishing.

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