Accreditation Policy to Work, Teach and Lead in Sydney Catholic Schools

Classification

Policy Number: RE201601-1.0 • Version/Last Updated: 1.0/ January 2016 • Audience: Public • Commencement: February 2016

Implementation Resources

1.0 Rationale

In their pastoral letter Catholic Schools at a Crossroads the Bishops of NSW and the ACT challenged educational leaders and staff to dedicate themselves to ensuring that our schools:

  • Are truly Catholic in their identity and life
  • Are centres of the ‘new evangelisation’
  • Enable our students to achieve high levels of Catholic religious literacy
  • Are led and staffed by people who will contribute to these goals.

This policy endeavours to address and meet this challenge.

The distinctive character of the Catholic school is that it is a community animated by the spirit of the Gospel. The choice to work in Catholic education brings both a privilege and a challenge…”it demands a special commitment of caring service to students, parents and colleagues within the mission of the Church.” (Workplace Realities in the Catholic School, p11)

“Teachers in Catholic schools, then, are in a most privileged position. It is they who can provide vital guidance and support to parents and students, and instil in them a sense of the Gospel challenge to acknowledge God’s integral place in their lives – to believe in [his] Word. This challenge demands certain essential qualities. It requires careful preparation, a facility for reflection, and a constant readiness for professional renewal and conversion of heart. Such teachers bring to their task an extraordinary giftedness and a profound sense of mission which significantly impact on their school communities, on their students and on their own effectiveness.”

The Privilege and the Challenge: the Teacher in the Catholic School, p6; (cf The Catholic School, n78; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, n22; Declaration on Christian Education, n8)

It is the responsibility of all who work, teach and lead in Catholic schools to “nurture a partnership in faith, hope and love among students, parents, staff and priests” and to “embrace evangelisation as a responsibility of the entire school community”. Vision Statement for Catholic Schools, p15

Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) and Catholic school communities, therefore, have a responsibility to put into place appropriate, supportive yet rigorous pathways for the preparation and ongoing professional learning of teachers, especially in Religious Education, and for the professional and spiritual formation of those who will lead our schools into the future:

“The identity and success of Catholic education is linked inseparably to the witness of life given by the teaching staff…School staff who truly live their faith will be agents of a new evangelisation in creating a positive climate for the Christian faith to grow and in spiritually nourishing the students entrusted to their care. They will be especially effective when they are active practising Catholics, committed to their parish community and loyal to the Church and her teaching.”

John Paul II: Ecclesia in Oceania, 2001

The Accreditation Policy allows SCS communities to:

  • Respond fully to the Archbishop’s invitation and mandate to work, teach and exercise leadership in a Catholic school on his behalf
  • Ensure the attainment of academic knowledge and skills in the areas of religious education and Catholic school leadership*
  • *as this policy only deals specifically with professional and academic formation, it should be read in conjunction with related Archdiocesan policies that address the broader issues of Catholic faith commitment and practice.

  • Engage all staff in the Catholic life of the school
  • Use accreditation status under this Policy as one of the criteria to assist with selection of staff for teaching or leadership positions in Catholic schools*.
  • *selection panels will consider a range of relevant criteria in discerning the most appropriate staff for employment in Catholic Schools. In particular, a demonstrable commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church in the area of faith and morals, referred to as the Catholic ethos, along with regular participation in Sunday Eucharist and, more generally, in the life of a Parish community would be seen as desired criteria for selecting teachers and support staff in Catholic Schools.

2.0 Guiding Principles

The Accreditation Policy allows SCS communities to:

2.1

Respond to the changing needs and culture of Catholic schools

2.2

Recognise, promote and affirm appropriate forms of professional learning relevant to working, teaching and leading in a Catholic school

2.3

Provide opportunities for all staff to become familiar with and to be immersed in the culture of Catholic education

2.4

Nurture the spiritual formation, faith development and ongoing professional growth of all staff

2.5

Ensure that all staff meet the accreditation requirements appropriate to their respective roles

2.6

Ensure that, in keeping with contemporary professional practice, all staff maintain currency of their accreditation status through appropriate professional support and development

2.7

Provide and monitor Provisional Accreditation to staff who are working towards full accreditation

2.8

Recognise that many employees bring to their school communities an array of gifts and a depth of Catholic faith and knowledge that far exceeds the minimal requirements of an accreditation structure. This accreditation policy is not intended to deny or minimise their contribution in any way

2.9

Recognise that employees who were satisfactorily accredited previously should only have to maintain currency under the new policy.

3.0 Policy
3.1

There is an obligation for all employees to obtain accreditation within a specific timeframe.

3.2

There is an obligation to maintain ongoing currency of accreditation.

3.3

There is an obligation for all employees to maintain their own records of ongoing professional development and faith formation in order to show their fulfillment of currency requirements.

3.4

Study requirements fulfilled for higher categories of accreditation will meet the requirements for earlier accreditation categories.

3.5

Currency requirements fulfilled for higher categories of accreditation will meet the requirements for earlier accreditation categories.

3.6

Provisional Accreditation may be provided to staff who are working towards full accreditation.

3.7

While SCS recognises and accepts the Accreditation status granted to employees by the other dioceses of NSW & ACT it requires all employees to maintain ongoing currency in accordance with the SCS Accreditation Policy.

3.8

This policy is scaffolded by five accreditation categories:

3.8.1

Category A – Accreditation to Work in a Catholic School (support staff)

3.8.2

Category B – Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School (all teaching staff, including those who are not teachers of Religious Education)

3.8.3

Category C – Accreditation for Leadership in a Catholic School (Co- coordinators and leaders at Middle Management level)

3.8.4

Category D – Accreditation to Teach Religious Education (all RE teaching staff)

3.8.5

Category E – Accreditation for Senior Leadership in a Catholic School (Principals, APs, RECs)

4.0 Procedures
4.1

Responsibility of Principal:

4.1.1

Monitor the accreditation and currency requirements of all staff (Category A-E)

4.1.2

Complete an annual audit for Category D

4.2

Responsibility of all staff:

4.2.1

Satisfy the relevant accreditation requirements and maintain the relevant currency requirements

4.3

Responsibility of SCS Central Office:

4.3.1

Ensure that all employees are familiar with the Accreditation to Work, Teach and Lead in Sydney Catholic Schools Policy

4.3.2

Conduct a system-wide annual audit of Category D Accreditation

4.3.3

Monitor and track Category E Accreditation

5.0 Bases of Discretion
5.1

The Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools or Director of Religious Education and Evangelisation may approve transitional arrangements or Provisional Accreditation in anomalous situations.

6.0 Explanatory Notes and Definitions
6.1

Category A – Accreditation to Work in a Catholic School

6.1.1

School support staff who have direct and immediate contact with students, parents and teaching staff are required to participate in a one-day (or equivalent) Orientation Program to acquaint them with the vision and mission of Catholic schools within the context of the evangelising and catechising mission of the Catholic Church. This would normally be conducted at the beginning of a school year for all new support staff.

6.1.2

Aspects of this program may include:

  • An introduction as to what it means to be employed in a Catholic workplace
  • An exploration of The Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools
  • SCS guidelines/expectations
  • Discussion of the school’s Vision and Mission Statement (if a school-based program)
  • Discussion of the relationship of these documents to an individual’s work
  • Partnership with families and parishes.

Typically, the support staff to attend the Orientation Program would include:

  • School secretaries
  • Teachers’ aides/assistants
  • Laboratory assistants
  • Library assistants
  • Grounds persons and cleaners (during school hours) who have direct contact with students
  • Permanent canteen staff.

Schools need to determine at a local level how volunteers should be engaged in the relevant aspects of the Orientation Program.

6.1.3

Currency: All support staff are expected to attend a minimum of fifteen hours of formation over a period of five years as a means of maintaining their ongoing Accreditation to Work in a Catholic School. Typically, this formation would consist of attendance at staff faith formation days. It is expected that all schools will utilise one professional development day per year for the purpose of the faith formation of all staff.

6.1.4

Category A – accreditation and currency requirements are tracked by each school.

6.2

Category B – Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School

6.2.1

All newly appointed teachers, both part-time and full-time, should participate in a two-day formation program offered by the SCS Office so as to meet the Accreditation requirements to Teach in a Catholic School. This should occur within the first twelve months of employment.

6.2.2

Aspects of this formation program may include:

  • Mission of the Catholic Church
  • The Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools
  • Catholic Life and Culture
  • Pastoral Care
  • Scripture, Prayer and Liturgy
  • Christian Leadership
  • Catholic Ethical and Social Teaching
  • Partnership with Families and Parishes

Beginning teachers are required to complete a further two-day formation program in their second year which complements and builds on their first year program. This second year program is coordinated by the SCS Office.

Experienced teachers, new to the Catholic sector, are required to complete a two-day formation program in their first year of employment with SCS in order to meet the Accreditation requirements.

6.2.3

Currency: All teachers are expected to attend a minimum of thirty hours of formation over a period of five years as a means of maintaining their ongoing accreditation. Typically, this formation would consist of attendance at staff faith formation days. It is expected that all schools will utilise one professional development day per year for the purpose of the faith formation and spiritual development of staff.

6.2.4

Category B – accreditation and currency requirements are tracked by each school.

6.3

Category C – Accreditation for Leadership in a Catholic School

6.3.1

All Coordinators and Middle Managers must be qualified teachers, with the necessary background, knowledge and professional commitment to the Vision and Mission of Catholic Schools. Coordinators and Middle Managers holding postgraduate qualifications in Religious Education/Theology/Catholic Leadership are accredited for Category C upon application.

Coordinators and Middle Managers not holding such qualifications must complete the equivalent of a four-day (24 hours) Leadership Formation program prior to their appointment or within the first two years of their appointment.

6.3.2

Aspects of the program may include:

  • Mission of the Catholic Church
  • The Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools
  • Catholic Life and Culture
  • Pastoral Care
  • Scripture, Prayer and Liturgy
  • Christian Leadership
  • Faith Formation of Staff
  • Partnership with Families and Parishes
  • Catholic Ethical and Social Teaching
  • Catholic Worldview across the Curriculum.

Completion of PEARL (Program for Emerging and Aspiring Religious Leaders) satisfies the category C requirements.

Alternatively, Coordinators and Middle Managers can meet their accreditation requirements through the successful completion of two units of postgraduate study in Religious Education/Theology/Catholic Leadership.

Category C Accreditation requirements apply to:

  • Directors of Study/Curriculum Coordinators
  • Heads of Department/Subject Coordinators
  • Teacher Educator (Primary) LoP (secondary)
  • Year and Welfare Coordinators
  • Youth Ministry Coordinators
  • Primary School Coordinators
  • Any other equivalent roles
6.3.3

Currency: It is expected that all Coordinators and Middle Managers will complete a minimum of forty-five hours of formation over a period of five years as a means of maintaining their ongoing accreditation. It is expected that all schools will utilise one professional development day per year for the purpose of the faith formation and/or spiritual development of staff. Typically, this formation would consist of attendance at staff faith formation days (30 hours), professional development, and/or formal tertiary studies in the approved fields. This may also include formation and immersion programs approved by the SCS Office.

6.3.4

Category C – accreditation and currency requirements are tracked by each school.

6.4

Category D – Accreditation to Teach Religious Education

6.4.1

Teachers of Religious Education must be qualified Catholic* teachers, with the necessary background, knowledge and professional commitment to the Vision and Mission of the Catholic School.

*It is generally expected that all teachers of Religious Education are Catholic and will display a demonstrable commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church in the area of faith and morals along with regular participation in Sunday Eucharist and, more generally, in the life of a Parish community. In special circumstances, teachers from other Christian denominations, notably the Orthodox tradition, may be granted provisional accreditation to Teach Religious Education by the Director of Religious Education and Evangelisation.

6.4.2

In order to be accredited as a teacher of Religious Education, teachers must have completed:

  • undergraduate studies which include a minimum of six approved units in Religious Education/Theology at a Catholic tertiary institution (for students commencing their undergraduate studies from 2013) OR
  • undergraduate studies which include a minimum of six approved units in Religious Education/Theology at a secular tertiary institution OR
  • a minimum of four SCS approved postgraduate units of study in Religious Education/Theology at a Catholic tertiary institution OR
  • a minimum of four SCS approved postgraduate units of study in Religious Education/Theology at a secular tertiary institution OR
  • the completion of SCS approved qualification in Religious Education/Theology from an endorsed provider.

Upon individual application, teachers may also be accredited to teach Religious Education if they have previously been accredited to teach Religious Education in another State or Territory of Australia, provided it is in line with the minimum requirements of SCS.

6.4.3

Currency: It is expected that all teachers of Religious Education will complete a minimum of forty-five hours of formation over a period of five years as a means of maintaining their ongoing accreditation. Typically, this formation would consist of attendance at staff faith formation days (30 hours), professional development, and/or formal tertiary studies in the approved fields (15 hours). This may also include formation and immersion programs approved by the SCS Office.

6.4.4

Category D – accreditation requirements are tracked by the SCS Central office. Currency requirements are tracked by each school.

6.5

Category E – Accreditation for Senior Leadership in a Catholic School

6.5.1

Senior leaders in Catholic schools must be qualified Catholic* teachers, with the necessary background, knowledge and professional commitment to the Vision and Mission of the Catholic School. Principals, Assistant Principals and Religious Education Coordinators are considered to be senior leaders.

*All senior leaders in a Catholic school must be Catholic and must display a demonstrable commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church in the area of faith and morals along with regular participation in Sunday Eucharist and, more generally, in the life of a Parish community. In special circumstances, teachers from other Christian denominations, notably the Orthodox tradition, may be granted accreditation for Senior Leadership by the Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools.

6.5.2

To be eligible for senior leadership positions employees must:

  • be accredited for Leadership in a Catholic School (Category C)
  • be accredited to teach Religious Education (Category D)
  • have completed a minimum of four units of study at a postgraduate level in Religious Education/Theology/Catholic Leadership at a Catholic tertiary institution or as part of an approved program of study at a secular tertiary institution.The four units must be in addition to studies used for the purposes of category D Accreditation.
6.5.3

Currency: It is expected that all senior leaders will complete a minimum of seventy-five hours of formation over a period of five years as a means of maintaining their ongoing accreditation. Typically, this formation would consist of attendance at staff faith formation days (30 hours), professional development, conference attendance and/or formal tertiary studies in the approved fields (45 hours). This may also include formation and immersion programs approved by the SCS Office.

6.5.4

Category E – accreditation and currency requirements are tracked by the SCS Central office.

6.6

Provisional Accreditation

6.6.1

Provisional Accreditation is premised on the underlying philosophy that all teachers of Religious Education and leaders in Catholic schools are acting in these specific roles on behalf of the Archbishop. In essence, the Archbishop mandates teachers to proclaim the Gospel message within the Catholic tradition in his name. Hence, accreditation is a requirement for all those who teach Religious Education or holding leadership positions in Catholic schools.

6.6.2

The category of Provisional Accreditation applies to those who are yet to satisfy their specific accreditation requirements in the following categories:

  • Accreditation D – Accreditation to Teach Religious Education – (All RE teachers)
  • Accreditation E – Accreditation for Senior Leadership – (Principals, Assistant Principals and Religious Education Coordinators).

The status of Provisional Accreditation is granted for a maximum of four years and will be detailed in the employee’s individual contract and/or letter of appointment.

In extraordinary circumstances Provisional Accreditation may be extended for a period of up to five years. In the case of Maternity Leave, the extension will correspond to the time on leave.

6.6.3

Provisional Accreditation would generally be granted when the following provisions are met:

  • the applicant is Catholic, or on the basis of their strong commitment to the Catholic ethos, has received special endorsement (Category D and E only)
  • the details surrounding the contractual nature of the arrangement are fully documented
  • a professional development pathway is developed, e.g. enrolment in and completion of a relevant postgraduate study program.

The Provisional Accreditation of teachers of Religious Education and senior leaders, including Religious Education Coordinators, Assistant Principals and Principals, will be monitored by the SCS Central Office.

7.0 Supporting Documents
7.1

Related policies

  • Staff Study Support Policy
7.2

Supporting documents

  • Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney
  • New Horizons: Inspiring Spirits and Minds 2015-2018 Strategic Plan

8.0 Appendices

Nil

9.0 Classification
9.1

Policy Number:RE201601-1.0

9.2

Version: 1.0

Last modified: January 2016

This policy supersedes all previous policies relating to matters contained therein. In so much as any aspect of this policy may appear to be in conflict with another Archdiocesan system or school-based policy, then precedence is to be given to this policy.

Changing laws, legal precedents, and experience may all serve as triggers for immediate review.

9.3

Audience: Public

9.4

Review by: December 2020

9.5

Approved by Leadership Team: 13 August 2015

9.6

Originally endorsed by SACS Board: 29 June 2011

9.7

Approved by Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools: 29 January 2016

9.8

Commencement Date: 1 February 2016