Enhancing Catholic School Identity

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Theme 1: The Catholic education system endeavours to serve and reach out to an increasingly diverse community.

A Catholic education is founded on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ and invites every member of the school community to an encounter with Jesus. The Catholic school does this by creating rich opportunities for staff and students to engage in open and respectful dialogue with the Christian narrative and the Catholic tradition on the one hand, and a diversity of meanings, understandings and beliefs on the other. In this way students and staff are invited and challenged to deepen their understanding of themselves, others, the world and God, and develop their authentic selves.

The Catholic education system endeavours to serve and reach out to an increasingly diverse community. Young people today are immersed in a globalising world and they are exposed to a multiplicity of cultures, social contexts and beliefs through personal experience, the media and other religions and world views. This pluralisation of world views is a real context of life and of schooling today. Schools, in partnership with parents and parishes, need to respond to this in the school program.

In addressing the changing needs of our students, teachers, parents, parishes and the community, and the Catholic Education Melbourne community, the Catholic education system is challenged to reflect continuously on its Catholic identity, in particular the ways we articulate our identity and vision and express our distinctiveness as Catholic communities in a pluralistic society.

The Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) project is a collaborative research project of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) and the Katholieke Universiteit (Catholic University) Leuven. It supports Catholic schools and Catholic Education Melbourne to better understand how their Catholic identity is expressed in work and in practice and how to support the future development of that Catholic identity.

The ECSI project developed a theological foundation for our approach to enhancing Catholic identity in Catholic education. It also developed survey instruments to assist schools and Catholic Education Melbourne to gather information about Catholic identity in their own communities. From the project, a process connected to the School Improvement Process has emerged, which can assist schools to better understand how Catholic identity is expressed, perceived and imagined in their school community. It is a rich resource for schools as they work to shape the school’s Catholic identity for the future.

Enhancing Catholic identity is relevant and important for Catholic Education Melbourne staff, as well as for schools. Not only does strengthening Catholic Education Melbourne’s Catholic identity have an obvious role in enhancing the Catholic identity of the schools we serve; all people working in Catholic education need to have open and inclusive opportunities for continuing faith formation and the development of authentic selves. Authentic relationships are thus supported and strengthened, enhancing the way we relate to, and work with, each other, and the way we provide advice and support to school communities. 

An enhanced Catholic identity for schools and Catholic Education Melbourne

a) Enhance Catholic identity through:
  • continued engagement with the Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) project
  • the School Improvement Process
  • other formative initiatives. 

b) Develop the second stage of the ECSI project in collaboration with school communities, with a specific focus on school-based strategies.

c) Develop an ongoing Catholic formation/spiritual development program for Catholic Education Melbourne staff.