6.04.2020: Schools are facing an “unprecedented” time. The metaphor of “war” has even been used. For those who have responsibility for others, their desire to care can conflict with the restraints place upon them by compliance and opportunity. For Christians, care is a natural part of reflecting God’s character: sometimes we face an event that seems to take more care than we believe we have the resources to meet.
To meet this concern among Christian school principals, community carers and leaders, Dr Rebecca Loundar and AC's leading Counselling and Social Sciences staff are providing low cost professional development which can be rolled out without additional pain by schools, care ministries, and churches. This series is written with the same heart of care – we wish to support those who are looking out for others in their worlds. For those of us in Christian schools, this will be a focus for the Boards of schools, the Principal and the rest of the Senior Executive, and of course, for all the teachers and support staff as they daily interact with the students and their families. We pray that this set of short units will aid you in being able to maintain your heart of care while being realistic about the strategies and resources at your disposal.
For access to AC's range of continuing professional learning courses, follow this link: https://www.openlearning.com/alphacruciscollege/
For advice on implementing cross-organizational trauma responses, please contact [email protected].
For leaders of organizations seeking specific advice on building Trauma-informed communities, Dr Loundar will post regular tips on this feed.
These two new books are based in large part on Stephen’s own field research, and are thus extensively illustrated with hundreds of his own photos. E-book digital versions have also been published through Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0849YKLVN/ and https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0849MPPDL/).
As part of his work at Alphacrucis College, Stephen engages with the dozens of Christian schools across the Asia-Pacific region that teach IB programs. These schools have common needs: often they have turned to IB as a mechanism for providing both better curriculum options than is sometimes available in their national jurisdictions. The parents and guardians of children in these schools also appreciate the mobility and international recognition of the IB awards, enabling students to move readily to some of the most prestigious universities and centres of learning around the world.
While solving resource and mobility problems, however, these schools are also left with the problem of connecting the IB to their core Christian Mission. Christian schools often find that there can be particular—though not insurmountable -- challenges teaching their IB programs within an authentic Christian perspective. An innovator in the area of critical thinking pedagogy, Dr Codrington is thus exploring with a number of schools the value which might lie in establishing a network through which ideas can be shared about integrating Christian perspectives into IB teaching.
As a practical and helpful response to such challenges, Alphacrucis College is offering to help Christian Schools which teach IB programs share ideas and expertise. Programs proposed will commence with a website for encouraging discussion and sharing resources, and may extend to support for cooperative meetings, workshops and conferences.
Schools that are interested in this initiative are invited to contact Dr. Codrington at [email protected].
As national concerns over the quality of Australian schooling continues to hit the press, two new schools joined the Teaching School Alliance Sydney (TSAS) this week. This program solves some of the key problems associated with attracting high performing people into teaching, providing advanced training, continuous mentoring, an income, fees offsets, and the potential to walk straight into a job at the end of the program.
The national press was paying attention to this tectonic shift in aligning quality delivery to classroom readiness. Two new announcements of schools joining the Alliance include St Andrew's Cathedral School and Inaburra School. Dr. John Collier, the principal of St Andrews Cathedral School, Sydney, noted to SMH reporter Jordan Baker that he saw the Alphacrucis relationship as a way of dealing with the "somewhat unpredictable" supply of teachers who were applying for positions at the school. Many of these people, his colleague at The Scots College, Dr. Ian Lambert, noted, are not as "classroom-ready as they could be".
The first interviews for candidates for the program were held at The Scots College, Bellevue Hill, last Friday. The quality of candidates was high from the start, and 'several were offered cadetships on the spot'.
Referring to the standard retail model of training and HR approach of schools, Dr David Hastie, Associate Dean of Education Development at Alphacrucis College, noted: "In schools, it's pretty much a lucky dip, where you put out a job ad and hope the right person turns up. This [approach, however] is really about taking more agency over workforce planning. [The schools] wanted to be able to have much more guarantee of quality of teachers coming into their workforce. They wanted to be able to map out the design of staff coming in. It's like a cadetship in a large accounting firm." (Jordan Baker, Private Schools to train their own teachers, SMH 22 November 2019]
At the same time, as Jill Rowbotham from the Australian noted, the cadetship has particular strengths in solving some of the most difficult problems of quality teacher supply for regional areas. Schools which regain a sense of agency in recruiting staff are able to find staff compatible with and committed to the school. As David Hastie noted, “We wanted to make sure that we can guarantee a particular type of teacher that’s going to be a really good fit for the culture. The idea is that you are training people from the regions…and they stay in the regions. When the model is sustainable, most teachers won’t need to leave to train, and that’s revolutionary for reversing social disadvantage in regional and remote education.
“In particular, we’re very interested in exploring how that might operate in our most disadvantaged communities because teacher churn is high and teacher supply is extremely unreliable. It tends to be one year in, one year out, fly in fly out. If you can actually train people from the bush, in the bush, for the bush, and then you’ve got yourself a solution for not only reversing disadvantage in those communities but also more broadly for regionalisation as a policy.”
Enrolment of candidates continues. If you are a bright, capable, ethos-aligned future teacher, contact: Dr David Hastie, [email protected]
On 21 October, Alphacrucis College and the King's Christian College hosted by invitation a group of leading educators, planners, architects, pastors and system executives to consider the challenges and potential of planing new Christian Schools. The aim of the day was to share experiences of different models and approaches towards the planting on new schools, whether by expansion, establishing on Greenfield sites, acquisition, campus division and rhizoming, or rescuing failing schools. Presentations and case studies from some of the leading practitioners in the field were enjoyed by the select group of leaders. While thankful for the remarkable growth of the sector, the NSP Group reaffirmed the need to do more to re-ignite the missional momentum which was in the early school establishments of the 1970s and 1980s. A further seminar, expanding the group to prospective and aspirational school planters, and a national Summit will be held in 2020.
Photo: Graeme Irwin provides an overview of the St Philips expansion plans 2020-2028
As noted in an earlier edition of this blog, CFS is working closely with CIRCLE to deepen and broaden the outstanding research already on Character Education. For those seeking a brief introduction to this vast project, in this interview Prof. Mark Hutchinson speaks with Dr Cummins about Character Research in Schools, and what they have found.
VIDCAST001: Character Education in Schools, with Philip S. A. Cummins.
Blue Mountains Grammar School is now, along with William Clarke College, the Scots College, and a number of other leading Sydney schools, a foundation member of the Sydney Teaching Schools Alliance. Building on the model established at the multicampus St Philips Christian College in the Hunter Valley, the STSA foundation members this week formally indicated their intent to cooperatively undertake new approaches to Christian teacher formation in 2020. The interim Chairman of the STSA noted in his letter to the Dean of the Faculty at Alphacrucis, "we share the common desire to markedly increase the supply of high quality, Christian teachers available to our schools, who can operate out of an integrative understanding of faith and learning." This, noted Professor Hutchinson, 'is history in the making'.
The core value proposition of most Christian Schools to parents is about character. Of course, each school has its own particular emphases, but essentially the core 'clients' of the school are those parents who are prepared to pay more so as to gain for their child involvement in a formative environment which will maximize their chances of become well formed, happy and successful people. To this end, the School of Education at Alphacrucis has been working with Dr Philip Cummins and Brad Adams at CIRCLE Education on the results of a large international study of character education in Schools. The Final Report of the project to the International Boy's School Coalition was completed in November 2018, and the book exploring the results of the extensive project (The Way: The character of an excellent 21C education) was released earlier this year. Involving 48 schools for boys, nearly 40,000 students, and 4,500 teachers, it is one of the largest studies of its type yet to be carried out.
The results of the study demonstrated not only what can be done to improve our approach to character education in schools, but why schools often don't live up to their value proposition. It is clear from the evidence, for example, that 'while [school] leaders have a clear picture of the work' that needs to be done to form students, schools have 'little opportunity to reflect on how this work can be situated within a model or series of models that allow for the development of a cogent theory of character leadership'. (Final Report, p. 270) In other words, schools are often too busy to be consistent in the pursuit of their core proposition. Schools need to build deliberate cultures of reflective practice, around clear strategies, plans and HR resourcing in 'character leadership', to break through the busyness of the day, and so do what they go to work to do.
Character formation emerges from the convergence of character leadership, character labour, and character capital. 'Character leadership', the report notes, 'refers to the specific character labor exercised by leaders in modeling character and developing character competency, as well as reinforcing character education.' Character labor refers to the deeds, words and decisions that reveal a leader’s true character and promote the character labor of others and the character capital of the school as a whole. As Dr Cummins notes:
Character education efficacy results from the will and their capacity of leaders to embed a shared commitment to “what we want, why we want it and how we do” it in character education. Character leadership is associated with the Theory of Culture which states that character education is reinforced by character leadership that attends to [the school's] honorable traditions, rituals, artifacts and models.
The Way: The character of an excellent 21C education, is available from the CIRCLE Education website.
The handing down of the Napthine Report (formally known as the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy) last week brought a welcome affirmation (in broad strokes) of the innovative developments occuring through the Centre for the Future of Schooling at AC, particularly in the development of the Hub approach to teacher training. As Chris Ronan, of the APPS Policy Forum noted,
In the last decade, policy initiatives have focused on encouraging RRR high school students to attend university, and have been increasing accessibility through mechanisms like the Demand Driven Funding System. These policies have largely been successful in getting students into higher education, but have ultimately failed to ensure that RRR students stay in university and complete their degrees. (Ronan, Reimagining retention for rural, regional, and remote www.policyforum.net/reimagining-retention-for-rural-regional-and-remote-students/students, APPS)
Worse, even when they do finish their courses, the funding models underpinning teacher education effectively reinforce the brain drain towards the cities.
The Regional Education Expert Advisory Group recommended, inter alia, that the government seek to 'Improve access to tertiary study options for students in RRR areas by:
providing demand-driven funding for university places in regional areas
exploring new higher education offerings focused on professional skills development
expanding access to Regional Study Hubs
addressing problems with student access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet services, and
improving access to high quality VET programs in RRR areas.
Each of these elements are functional parts of, or point to the need for, a Hub-based model. The impact on training on country for country is an essential element of building sustainablility for RRR settings. Whilever government continues to fund large 'retail' programs which pull students out of the communities, and do not create investment in RRR communities, the additional funding announcements (e.g. the $42 million announced by the Victorian government last week) will continue to just prop up an unsustainable system by rewarding ineffective behaviours.
A large and representative group of schools met at St Andrew’s Cathedral School to consider the Alphacrucis College Hub model for training Christian teachers. Under the chairmanship of Dr John Collier, Principal of St Andrew’s, Dr David Hastie, Associate Dean for Education Development at AC, gave an energetic account of the program, to which three wider sector contributors (Dr Ruby Holland, University of Sydney; Dr Norman McCulla, Macquarie University, and Professor Trevor Cooling, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK) responded. Dr McCulla and Prof. Cooling noted the international practice, the importance of formation, and warmly applauded the model, proposing improvements on the paper. Dr Holland countered with the opinion that the current ‘big tertiary’ approach was working well, and that there was sufficient critical space within a general neo-Marxist intellectual environment to challenge the system from the inside.
Delegates were then given the opportunity to ask questions, both of Dr Hastie, and of two delegates from an existing Hub-based Initial Teacher Education based in an expanding six campus networked school -- Graeme Irwin (CEO and Executive Principal) and Samantha Van de Mortel (Director of the St Philip’s Teaching School), St Philips Christian College. While one delegate noted that, due to location, they had little problem finding ethos-aligned staff, numbers of school leaders in the seminar expressed the fact that quality teacher supply was becoming a critical issue for their schools’ respective missions. St Philips Christian College is now actively fielding a large number of applicants for their third annual cohort of ITE candidates, and is shaping up to offer positions to their first conditionally accredited teachers in 2020.
Since the meeting, five schools have engaged in conversations around formalizing a Sydney-based ‘Teaching School Alliance’, an association which is forming under the interim chairmanship of Mr Ray Jarratt. The first invitations to potential applicants are expected to be issued in late September.
For further information, please contact Dr David Hastie ([email protected]), or for the Teaching Schools Alliance, please contact Mr Ray Jarratt ([email protected]).
Director of the Centre for the Future of Schooling and Associate Dean, Dr David Hastie today thanked the ABC for its interest in innovative Hub-based teacher education models, and for permitting him some time on ABC TV to clarify elements which have elsewhere been misreported. The footage of the live interview can be found here. The program does not, he noted, allow students to 'skip attending a university'. Rather, what the program does is transfer agency from a tertiary-centred model, to a school-centred model, in which students complete an accredited tertiary degree in the sort of cadetship mode very common in other disciplines. It was not, Hastie noted, a direct appropriation of the British model, but rather it takes 'the best of British' and dispenses with the ideologically-driven applications which elsewhere have proven ineffective. It adopts the leading practices of the University of Melbourne's Clinical Practice Model, and improves on these by focussing on the student experience and career track.
For further information, please contact: [email protected]
CFS researchers and staff contribute regularly to the FSB. The aim is to keep you in the loop as to the range of our activities, perhaps suggesting points of common interest.