Sunday, 16 August 2015

Catholic Character review from the inside looking out

Being invited to participate in a Catholic education review is an excellent learning experience. I would encourage every leader in a Catholic school to grab such an opportunity. Spending time in the presence of lead reviewer Paul Ferris,QSM and his experienced team, Rosemary Burke and Fr Wayne Healey was a privilege. Special thanks to the principal of St Patrick's Invercargill, Callan Goodall and his enthusiastic staff and children who made us all feel very welcome. Thanks to the Dunedin Diocese for their willingness to open up the review process. I came away from the review feeling humbled by this rich learning experience and motivated to share my learning with our school community.
The following information was taken from my own notes during the review.
Left to right: Fr Wayne Healey, Rosemary Burke & Paul Ferris
As you walk into the school, it is clear that it is "unabashedly Catholic".
Brother Sir Patrick Lynch shared his thoughts around this at the Catholic Convention
These photos give you an idea of the visual impact the school's Catholic identity makes as you enter the main office, school hall and playground.
Top row - Entrance to St Patrick's School, bottom row -new prayer garden.
One of the eye catching murals displayed in the playground that emanate the rich Catholicity of the school.
More of the murals out in the playground and in the school hall that link to the gospel values and the rich culture and tradition of the school community.
Board of Trustees 
As part of the review, it is necessary to meet with the board. This is an opportunity for the board to share their passion for the Catholic school that they govern. Here are some examples of the questions that were put to the board:
What does the school do really well in keeping with its Catholic ethos ?
What has changed and improved since the last review ?
What has the board done around the formation of its teachers ?
Who holds the tagged positions and do their job descriptions reflect their commitment ?
Do the board know what papers that the teachers have studied ?
What do the board know about the Catholic special character budget ?
How is the board assured the appraisal system focuses on growth in special character and quality teaching ?
How does the special character attestation get completed ?
How often do you have a whole school mass ?
How can the board be assured that the school provides an authentic encounter with Jesus ?

This meeting commenced with a reflection on the progress since the recommendations made in the last report. I wasn't present for the whole meeting as I went and observed some teachers in action:
What evidence do you have to show the changes made in response to the last review ?
What would we see when we come back again in three years time ?
Where does your Catholic special character goal fit within your charter ?
Do you utilise the open and preference place data to guide your targets ?
Have you got links on your website and facebook page to special character resources that support parents (eg. with the sacraments) ?
Share your staff formation plan.
Does the principal and DRS have a thorough understanding of the RE teaching happening throughout the school ? Does the principal challenge the quality of feedback to ensure healthy professional growth ?
Does your data around RE support adjustments to teaching practice ?

Teaching Observations
Is their connection, engagement and participation ?
Where does the lesson and the planning fit within the strand ?
Are the children excited to learn and does the teacher demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for RE and their faith ?

Director of Religious Education (DRS)
What has developed since the last review ?
How do you know that there is quality RE teaching happening around the school ?
How do we adapt teaching practice to ensure that the children are encountering Christ in the classrooms (NZCB The Catholic Education of School-Age Children "puts the encounter with Jesus at the centre of Catholic education" page 2 ).
You can access this important document here
Are the DRS reports to the board more than a diary of events ? Do they assure the board that there is an ability within the school to make a difference ? 
Where is the voice of the child as learner ? Do you find out what is working well and not working well for the children ?
Formation of teachers - Have you got a record of the accreditation hours for the teachers ? Have you analysed it and developed targets to go forward based on this information ?
Have you shared this with the board?
How do you know that prayer takes place every morning and how is this developed ?
Parish School Relationship - What level of input does the school get into the liturgy ?
Are the teachers aware of the different criteria for preference of enrolment (see link page 114) and are they teaching to this ?

Learn how staff and board prepared for our own recent Catholic review here. 
This review experience has emphasised the importance of our Catholic schools sharing resources and working together (another post with this same message)
We need to continually nudge each other to move out of our comfort zones and ensure that our Catholic schools can proclaim the joy of the Gospel uniquely and powerfully with Jesus Christ at the centre of all that we do. We need to inject our passion and energy for our Catholic faith into our schools so that our children and families truly encounter the living God.

“School can and must be a catalyst, it must be a place of encounter and convergence of the entire educating community, with the sole objective of training and helping to develop mature people who are simple, competent and honest, who know how to live with fidelity, who can live life as a response to God’s call, and their future profession as a service to society ” (Pope Francis, 2013). 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks jenny for sharing the indepth appraisal process with us. Great pictures too and encouraging for us to see how other schools express the taonga of our faith