Enhancing Catholic School Identity
Catholic schools across Victoria are challenged to:
- articulate their identity and vision
- express their distinctiveness as Catholic schools in a society where the Christian faith is increasingly marginalised.
To assist schools in facing these present realities the CECV and the four diocesan Catholic education offices embarked on a research partnership with the Catholic University (Katholieke Universiteit) Leuven, Belgium. This research involves responding to a series of survey questions by various stakeholders in Catholic schools.
The program which has now emerged from this research assists schools to better understand how their Catholic identity is expressed in work and practice, and will support them in the future development of that Catholic identity.
Strengthening the Catholic identity of schools
Leaders in Catholic schools are called upon to lead a community of faith.
Such leadership can be exercised in a number of ways but it is always prepared and capable of naming that which is distinctive about the Catholic tradition while remaining open to dialogue with those of other faiths and, indeed, those of no religious faith.
This religious leadership invites all members of the Catholic school community to engage with the tradition.
For teachers, this often asks for a changed pedagogy which, through rigorous inquiry, is ‘theologically legitimate and culturally plausible’.
The special role of school leaders exists in finding a range of options by which the school’s Catholic identity can be strengthened – a methodology for making sense of all that engages the school, and in all that the school engages with, is required.
Through such a methodology, Catholic schools are challenged to faithfully articulate their identity and vision and to express their distinctiveness as Catholic schools in a society that is increasingly secular and diverse.
About the Survey
The main questions being explored through the research in each school are:
- How is Catholic identity lived and shaped in the school?
- What is the preferred situation on theological grounds?
- What is the potential present in the school to realise its preferred Catholic Identity?
Participation in the assessment of Catholic identity in each school involves responding to a series of questions by individuals in the following cohorts:
- in primary schools – students in Years 5 & 6
- in secondary schools – students in Years 7 to 12
- all Staff
- Board members and Canonical Administrators
All individuals access the survey online and are given unique password-protected access.
The survey includes:
The Profile Questionnaire is a short introductory set of questions to gather information about the respondents. This will allow the results to be differentiated in terms of groups of respondents according to categories such as age, role in the school, religion, Church practice.
The Post Critical Belief Scale (PCB) will assist schools in profiling and measuring the different attitudes toward religion that exist among their Catholic education community.
The Melbourne Scale profiles the characteristics and response of the school as an institution in a diverse context. The Melbourne Scale has two parts: Part A identifies how community members perceive the Catholic school responding to its situation, while Part B identifies how the community would ideally like the school to respond to this situation.
The Victoria Scale explores the ways in which a Catholic school, in a multicultural and multi-religious society, manages the twofold challenge of defining its individual character as well as exercising solidarity. Part A identifies how community members perceive the Catholic school responding to this challenge while Part B identifies how the community would ideally like the school to respond.
The Doyle Questionnaire is a set of questions about relevant aspects of Catholic school identity that should be included in a thorough investigation of school identity and that may not be represented, or may be under-represented, in the other parts of the survey. This is also in two parts.
Schools seeking further information about the survey should go to the CEVN website.
Ph: +61 3 9267 0228
Tony Byrne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph: +61 3 5337 7135
John Meneely: email@example.com
Ph: +61 3 5622 6600
Deb Punton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph: +61 3 5443 2377
Phil Bretherton: email@example.com
Professor Didier Pollefeyt 2013 visit