Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School
The Catholic school
A significant element in the overall mission of the Church in Victoria has been the establishment of Catholic schools.
The role of the Catholic school in educating people in faith continues to be given due recognition.1
establishes her own schools because she considers them as a privileged means of promoting the whole person, since the school is a centre in which a specific concept of the world, of humanity and of history is developed and conveyed.2
This statement implies that education is an essential aspect of the proclamation of the Gospel message.
In each diocese, the ultimate responsibility for Catholic education carried out in schools rests with the diocesan bishop. It is shared in the proper manner with priests, parents, principals and staffs, members of religious institutes, students, Catholic Education Offices and other appropriate members of the school and parish communities.
The following quotation illustrates the importance of the role of the diocesan bishop in Catholic education:
The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and inspect the Catholic schools situated in his territory, even those established or directed by members of religious institutes.
He has also the right to issue directives concerning the general regulation of Catholic schools; these directives apply also to schools conducted by members of a religious institute, although they retain their autonomy in the internal management of their schools.3
The following excerpts from the documents of the Second Vatican Council and other relevant sources demonstrate how members of the Church work together in the exercise of their responsibilities.
1. The Bishop
Close collaboration and the coordination of all the apostolic works under the direction of the bishop should be promoted in the diocese as a whole or in parts of it.4
2. Parents, Principals and Teachers
It is the task of the whole educative community to ensure that a distinctive Christian educational environment is maintained in practice. The responsibility applies chiefly to Christian parents who confide their children to the school. An equally important role belongs to the teachers in safeguarding and developing the distinctive mission of the Catholic school, particularly with regard to the Christian atmosphere which should characterise its life and teaching.5
Teachers must remember that it depends chiefly on them whether the Catholic school achieves its purpose. They should therefore be prepared for their work with special care, having the appropriate qualifications and adequate learning both religious and secular. They should also be skilled in the art of education in accordance with the discoveries of modern times.6
4. The Bishop and Teachers
. lay involvement in Catholic schools is an invitation to cooperate more closely with the apostolate of the bishops, both in the field of religious instruction and in more general religious education which they endeavour to promote by assisting the pupils to a personal integration of culture and faith and of faith and living. The Catholic school in this sense, therefore, receives from the bishops in some manner the mandate of an apostolic undertaking.7
The parish priest is the ecclesiastical administrator of the parish primary school. It is his obligation to provide for the catechetical instruction of the pupils in the school. The principal and the school staff cooperate with and assist him in the fulfilment of this obligation through the religious education program which is carried out in the school and which shall be in accord with diocesan policies and guidelines.
The parish priest has a key role in the parish primary school. This role may be described briefly as pastoral care. The parish priest is the pastor of the parish community of which the primary school is an integral part. He exercises his pastoral care by his presence, loyalty, encouragement and guidance to each member of the school community.8
In various ways priests also exercise their pastoral role in secondary schools which may be diocesan or regional colleges or schools administered by religious institutes.
The Church here is young. From her very foundation, she has been very active in developing organisations and the structures needed in order to provide a true Catholic education for her people, and at the same time to serve the needs of Australian society as a whole.
For many years, the chief organisational and teaching burdens for Catholic education here were shouldered by men and women religious. They met the challenge splendidly, and the whole Church and all of Australian society will be forever in their debt.9
Teachers who are members of religious institutes have already rendered an inestimable contribution to education in this country and, by responding faithfully to the needs of the contemporary Church, they continue to provide guidance and a pattern of Christian life for those whom they teach.
7. Lay Teachers
The active involvement of lay teachers in Catholic schools has enhanced the Church's commitment to education and deepened the evangelical thrust of the vocation given to all in Baptism.
It is important to emphasise that all teachers in the Catholic school are expected to share in its distinctive concerns. This statement follows from the understanding of education in the Catholic school and of the shared responsibility of the bishop and other members of the Church, which has already been outlined.
All teachers in Catholic schools possess an influence that can be vital to the character of Catholic education. In striving to fulfil their vocation, teachers may experience a degree of tension between the demands of their professional lives and the commitments and responsibilities of their personal lives. The challenge lies in striking a balance between the two areas.10
If the above quotations are kept in mind when the issue of accreditation is being addressed, then it will be clear that the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria is reiterating its policy of Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School upon the foundation of a shared vision and sense of mission.
Finally, it is important to note that the distinctive element of the Catholic school is its basis in the life of Jesus Christ.
Christ is the foundation of the whole educational enterprise in a Catholic school. His revelation gives new meaning to life and helps people to direct their thoughts, actions and wills according to the gospel, making the beatitudes their norm of life. The fact that in their own individual ways all members of the school community share this Christian vision, makes the school 'Catholic'; principles of the gospel in this manner become the educational norms since the school then has them as its internal motivation and final goal.11
Thus all the members of the school derive their understanding of its educational purpose and vision from the person of Jesus Christ who continues to be present in and through his Church.
In pursuing a quality and type of education appropriate to this vision, the Church proclaims that teachers ought to recognise that the Catholic school depends very heavily on them to make its aims and studies effective. Teachers need careful preparation, suitable qualifications and appropriate opportunities for formation and updating in all the branches of knowledge which pertain to the exercise of their profession.12
Whatever their specific roles in a Catholic school, all teachers, by their presence in the school, contribute to its mission.
The meaning of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school
Accreditation to teach in a Catholic school is to be seen as the means of assisting all teachers in Catholic schools to develop a deeper understanding not only of the nature of the school as part of the Church's mission but also of their role as members of staff.
This policy of Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School is applicable to Catholic primary and secondary schools in the dioceses of Victoria.13
The policy regarding Accreditation to Teach Religious Education in a Catholic School is Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Policy 1.7.
Rationale of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria is committed to the continuing development and the fostering of the Catholic character of the school community by means of a policy which calls for the appropriate development of staff.
Development of the school as a community should have primary emphasis. It should be apparent to all members of a school community that everyone shares the responsibility for such development.
As a part of its mission, an element proper to the school is solicitous care for the permanent professional and religious formation of its lay members. Lay people should be able to look to the school for the orientation and the assistance that they need, including the willingness to make time available when this is needed.14
The Commission believes that an understanding of the nature of the Catholic school enables the teacher to contribute positively to the goals of the school.
By their witness and their behaviour teachers are of the first importance to impart a distinctive character to Catholic schools. It is, therefore, indispensable to ensure their continuing formation through some form of suitable pastoral provision.15
In other words, emphasis should be laid on the continuous development of the person and the educational community.
Aims of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school
Through the policy of Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School the Commission aims:
- to encourage the school community to provide regular in-service which would meet the criteria necessary for purposes of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school;
- to provide possibilities for formation through schools, institutions and other appropriate bodies;
- to encourage all teachers in Catholic schools to undertake additional suitable formation;
- to encourage principals and governing bodies to promote this ongoing formation;
- to help all teachers, whether teaching Religious Education or not, to contribute positively to the religious character of the school;
- to assure bishops, priests and parents that the Catholic character of the school is understood, appreciated, promoted and maintained by members of staff;
- to ensure that teachers have been involved in a formation that would enable them to contribute positively to the aims, objectives and goals of a Catholic school; and
- to ensure that Catholic education responds to new insights and new ways of bringing the Gospel to the processes of schooling.
The content areas of study for accreditation to teach in a Catholic school
The Commission would like to stress the importance of developing content areas of study for accreditation to teach in a Catholic school:
Formation is indispensable; without it, the school will wander further and further away from its objectives. Often enough, if it will join forces with other educational centres and with Catholic professional organisations, a Catholic school will not find it too difficult to organise conferences, seminars, and other meetings which will provide the needed formation.16
The Commission wishes to indicate the following criteria:
- that the fifty (50) hours of studies provide the basis for accreditation to teach in a Catholic school;
- that the studies include coverage of each of the areas:
a. child, adolescent and adult faith development (a minimum of 10 hours),
b. the aims, objectives and rationale of the Catholic school (a minimum of 10 hours),
c. Revelation and the Catholic Church: Jesus Christ, Scripture, the Church in its Liturgy, Life and Tradition, Sacraments, Morality, Justice and Peace (a minimum of 15 hours);
- that a variety of ways be allowed for these studies:
- school-based in-service activities
- diocesan and regional seminars
- formal courses.
Accreditation of teachers to teach in a Catholic school
Since it is vital for the effectiveness of the Catholic school community that all the members understand its purpose and mission, principals and teachers need to be accredited to teach in a Catholic school.
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria wishes to promote every opportunity for encouraging, facilitating and assisting school communities in the development of their staffs.
To achieve this goal the Diocesan Catholic Education Offices and the existing associations of principals and staffs are asked to cooperate in the formulation of five-year plans for schools which would incorporate the variety of ways mentioned in point 3 above.
Applications from individual teachers for accreditation to teach in a Catholic school are administered by the respective diocesan Catholic Education Office. Certification of this accreditation is granted by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria.
Applications for approval of school-based in-services for the purposes of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school are administered for the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria by the respective Diocesan Catholic Education Office according to the criteria agreed to by the Commission.
If teachers enter Catholic education without being accredited to teach in a Catholic school then they will be urged to become accredited within a period of five years from the commencement of employment.
The joint responsibility of both the principal and the teacher with regard to accreditation to teach in a Catholic school should be clearly stated in writing when a teacher enters service in a Catholic school.
Given the aims and vision of the Catholic school which have been outlined under the heading 'The Catholic school' in the introductory section to this policy, it is clear that teachers who are Catholics and those who are not Catholics may be accredited to teach in a Catholic school.
Reciprocity of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school
There is reciprocity of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school across all Catholic schools.
Applying for accreditation to teach in a Catholic school
Teachers, having completed the above requirements, should apply to the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, through the appropriate diocesan Catholic Education Office, for certification of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school.
CECV February 1997
1 cf. Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, St Paul Publications, Homebush, NSW, 1977, n. 9.
2 ibid., n. 8.
3 The Code of Canon Law, Collins, Sydney, 1983, Canon 806:1.
4 Catholic Church, Vatican II (1962-1965), 'Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church' (Christus Dominus), in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery OP, Costello Publishing Company, New York, 1975, n. 17.
5 Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, op. cit., n. 73.
6 Catholic Church, Vatican II (1962-1965), 'Declaration on Christian Education' (Gravissimum Educationis), in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery OP, op. cit., n. 8.
7 Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, op. cit., n. 71.
8 cf. Catholic Education Office of Victoria, Parish Primary School Handbook, 1978, p. 3.
9 The Pope in Australia: Collected Homilies and Talks, St Paul Publications, Homebush, NSW, 1986, p. 122.
10 cf. Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, St Paul Publications, Homebush, NSW, 1982, n. 37.
11 Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, op. cit., n. 34.
12 cf. Catholic Church, Vatican II (1962-1965), 'Declaration on Christian Education' (Gravissimum Educationis), op. cit., n. 8.
13. Historically, the processes of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school in parish primary schools and Catholic secondary schools have operated differently. From 1 January 1977, primary teachers were required to hold a Certificate of Accreditation to Teach, or to agree to meet the requirements of accreditation to teach in a Catholic school within a reasonable period of time, in order to be covered by the provisions accorded to full-time teachers as stated in the section on dismissal in clause 3.17 of the Parish Primary School Handbook, 1978. From February 1983, secondary teachers, if eligible, were encouraged to obtain a Certificate of Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic school, or to take steps to qualify for accreditation. Principals were urged to ensure that a sufficient number of teachers on their staffs be accredited.
14 Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, op. cit., n. 79.
15 Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, op. cit., n. 78.
16 Catholic Church, Congregation for Catholic Education, Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, op. cit., n. 9.